Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (left) introduces Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer, who has sat as an independent since 2012, as her party's second Member of Parliament, on Friday at the Finlandia Club in Thunder Bay. .
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Bruce Hyer has singlehandedly doubled the Green Party caucus in the House of Commons.
The former NDP MP, who has sat as an independent since splitting with the party in 2012 over his refusal to capitulate and vote to retain the federal long-gun registry, said he considered both the Liberals and a return to the NDP, but ultimately decided joining Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in Ottawa was the best fit for his political ideals.
“Now I will have the resources of this party and will have the services of the only truly democratic part in the House of Commons,” Hyer told a packed room Friday, standing beside May and officially announcing his decision to cross the floor.
Hyer, 67, said this means he’ll have all the benefits of being in a party, but won’t be forced to vote against the will of his constituents.
“I call it independent-plus,” he said. “It will not decrease my independence. I believe it will enhance it,” he said.
First elected in 2008, Hyer has never been afraid to speak his mind.
May, who preaches a constituents-first policy, is OK with that, acknowledging that Hyer is free to vote his conscience in Parliament. May, who in 2011 became the first Green Party candidate elected to the House of Commons, said it’s a great day for the party.
“Doubling the party’s caucus in one day is certainly a very exciting step forward. What we’re trying to do as a party is change the way politics is done in Canada,” she said, ambitiously hoping the move will spur her desire to win a dozen seats in the next election.
May, who has sat beside Hyer in the House since he quit the NDP – and was also born in the same Connecticut hospital as her newest caucus member – added Hyer has always put Thunder Bay-Superior North first as long as she’s known him.
“He’s also hard-working and also very committed to the values of sustainability, dealing with the climate crisis and has a long track record as a conservationist. So he fits our values, particularly our commitment to grassroots democracy,” May said.
“And your Member of Parliament should represent you and not the political party.”
The real challenge will be convincing voters this is the case, she said.
"The Greens have frankly never been strong in Thunder Bay-Superior North, but there are a lot of green-thinking people in this riding and we just have to make sure that we connect our commitment to grassroots democracy and the fact your leader is not bossing around your MP."
Hyer committed to run for the Greens in 2015, the date of the next scheduled federal election, though admitted it won’t be an easy route back to Ottawa, given that the Green Party only garnered three per cent of the vote in the last election.
MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay), the NDP’s ethics critic, said that alone is enough to trigger a by-election, which his party called for in a release issued on Friday.
“Mr. Hyer has broken faith with the voters. We are calling on him to do the right thing, the honourable thing, and immediately resign his seat and give the voters of Thunder Bay-Superior North a real choice in a by-election.”
Hyer dismissed further claims by Angus that the move was self-serving and a betrayal to 97 per cent of the riding’s voters.
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