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Updated: Fri, 13 Dec 2013 14:00:42 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Thunder Bay MP Bruce Hyer joins Green Party, doubles caucus



Bruce Hyer, who was elected as an NDP MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North and left the caucus over the party's stance on the long-gun registry, announces Friday he will be joining leader Elizabeth May as a Green Party MP. Jeff Walters/CBC

Bruce Hyer, who was elected as an NDP MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North and left the caucus over the party's stance on the long-gun registry, announces Friday he will be joining leader Elizabeth May as a Green Party MP. Jeff Walters/CBC

Independent MP Bruce Hyer was in Thunder Bay, Ont., today to announce his decision to join the Green Party, almost two years after leaving the NDP caucus.

"As of today, I like to call my status as Independent Plus," Hyer told reporters gathered for his announcement Friday morning.

The Ontario MP said he will now have the resources of the "only truly democratic party" in the House of Commons — a not-so-subtle jab at the federal New Democrats.

Hyer left the NDP caucus on April 23, 2012, after party discipline required New Democrat MPs to support the long-gun registry, something the MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North said he could not do.

The NDP had previously disciplined the Ontario MP and NDP MP John Rafferty for siding with the Conservatives during a vote to dismantle to gun registry.

Hyer, a longtime advocate of democratic reform, made the announcement with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May at his side.

"This is the only party and Elizabeth [May] is the only leader that seeks consistently day after day co-operation and compromise with other parties out of respect for all of the MPs in the House," Hyer said.

The former NDP MP said May has promised him his votes will not be whipped unlike the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals who "still require lockstep discipline in the House will little room for meaningful public debate."

NDP calls on Hyer to resign his seat

In an interview with CBC's Julie Van Dusen, May said "the policies of the Green Party oppose the idea that political party affiliation should trump your commitment to your constituents."​

May also said Hyer has "a long history as someone who has been a committed environmentalist, conservationist…he has a very strong 'green' track record."

The NDP called on Hyer to resign his seat immediately and run again in a byelection, saying he is betraying his constituents by joining a party they did not vote for in the last federal election.

"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," NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said in a written statement.

Angus said Hyer really left the NDP caucus because he was not given a role in the party's shadow cabinet.

John Percy, leader of the Green Party in Nova Scotia, welcomed the former NDP MP, saying in a post on Twitter, "Welcome to Bruce Hyer, a man who understands 21st century politics."

Last week, Conservative MP Michael Chong, tabled the proposed reform act, a private member's bill that would restore power to MPs in the House of Commons.

The Green Party Leader said she and Hyer had a lot of time to talk this past year and a half as the two are seated next to each other in the Commons.

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