Green party announces its first member of Parliament
The Green party has gained its first ever member of Parliament — Blair Wilson — a Vancouver-area Independent who quit the Liberal party last year.
Green party Leader Elizabeth May introduced Wilson at a news conference Saturday morning in Ottawa, just a week after he approached the party.
"It felt like coming home," Wilson said Saturday.
The MP for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding was turfed from the Liberal caucus last year after allegations surfaced about spending irregularities in his 2006 campaign.
Wilson reminded reporters that he was cleared of any wrongdoing after an eight-month investigation by Elections Canada.
May said her party welcomes the MP because he gives the Greens a voice in parliamentary debates. She also said having Wilson on her team means she should be allowed to take part in the televised leaders debate in the next federal election campaign.
"With a Green MP sitting in the House of Commons, it will now be impossible to exclude the Green party from the televised leaders' debates in the next election," said May.
The Green party took 1.5 million votes in the 2006 election. Combined with continued strong national polling numbers near 10 per cent and federal byelection results that have placed Green candidates ahead of some of their counterparts in the dominant parties, May said Saturday her party has been confirmed as a legitimate contender and not just a fringe element.
Conservative party officials, however, raised questions about Wilson's legitimacy as a Green MP.
"Our view is there should only be one Liberal candidate in the leaders' debate," said Kory Teneycke, Harper's communications director, citing the agreement between Dion and May last year not to contest one another's ridings in the next election.
"You can't have two candidates from essentially the same party in the debate."
During Saturday's news conference, Wilson said environmental issues and the Green party have strong support in his riding.
"The environment has always been the biggest issue in my riding and I think that in the [next] election, the environment will be the top issue nationally as well," he said.
Whether Wilson ever enters the Commons as a Green MP will likely be determined by voters in his riding later in the fall.
Political observers speculate that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will move to dissolve Parliament next week before the fall sitting resumes, sending Canadians to the polls for a vote in mid-October.
With files from the Canadian Press