09/16/2019 11:22 EDT | Updated 09/16/2019 20:12 EDT

NDP Nabs Former Quebec Green Party Leader To Run Against Defector

Eric Ferland and Pierre Nantel have swapped party allegiances.

LONGUEUIL, Que. — The feud between federal New Democrats and Greens is taking a strange twist on Monday morning in the Quebec riding of Longueuil-Saint-Hubert near Montreal, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is announcing that environmentalist Eric Ferland will be the party’s candidate.

Not only is Ferland a former leader of Quebec’s Green Party, but the incumbent in the riding is former NDP MP Pierre Nantel, who defected to the Greens.

The Greens and NDP have been locked in a fierce battle for third place in public-opinion polls as each seeks to attract progressive voters unhappy with the governing Liberals and worried about climate change.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, left, stands beside Eric Ferland during a news conference Monday in Longueuil, Que.

New Democrats are clearly hoping Ferland will bolster their environmental credentials and convince Quebecers to support the party like they did in 2011, when voters handed the NDP under Jack Layton a majority of the province’s seats.

The NDP has struggled in Quebec since that high-water mark and there have been questions over whether Quebecers, the majority of whom support the province’s controversial ban on religious symbols, Bill 21, will vote for Singh.

Monday’s campaign event follows a weekend tour of Quebec in which Singh promised the province new powers over immigration, the right to withdraw from federal programs with federal compensation and an expansion of its French language laws.

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