Pierre Poilievre will skip the third debate on the leadership of the Conservative Party

OTTAWA-

The campaign of Pierre Poilievre, the perceived leader in the federal Conservative leadership race, says he will not participate in a third debate the party plans to host next month.

Jenni Byrne, a senior member of her team, issued a statement on Twitter after the party announced it would proceed to hold a third official leadership debate in early August.

Conservative party rules say candidates are required to take part in official leadership debates, or face a fine.

Byrne’s statement says Poilievre participated in the first two official debates, as well as one organized by the Canada Strong and Free Network, an organization that promotes the conservative movement.

He also criticizes the English-language debate the party held in Edmonton in May, calling it “embarrassing” because it included sound effects and questions about the candidates’ tastes in music and television.

The statement says the party’s planning for a third debate lands as Poilievre’s campaign is working to win the vote among Conservative members.


This is a breaking news update. Follow the previous version.

The Conservative Party of Canada has decided to hold a third debate in the race to become its next leader.

Members of the organizing committee for leadership elections met on Wednesday and decided to organize another one after a survey the party sent to members last week in which 24,000 responded, according to a party spokesman.

“The response was overwhelmingly in favor of a third debate,” said Yaroslav Baran.

The event will take place next month, with more details on the timing expected later on Thursday.

Under party rules, leadership candidates are required to attend official debates or face a fine.

The candidates have already participated in two official debates, one in English in Edmonton and a second in French in Laval, Que.

However, the campaigns were informed that their candidates could be called back by the party to participate in a third in early August.

It will take place with the voting already in progress and the entry of the complete ballots. The event will also not feature Patrick Brown, who was disqualified from the race this month on a charge that he may have violated federal election law, which he denies.

The results of the race will be announced on September 10 in Ottawa.

Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest had been pushing the party to host a third debate, with candidates Scott Aitchison and Roman Baber also expressing support.

Leslyn Lewis’s campaign said she would attend when needed, and a spokesman for Pierre Poilievre, the front-runner, has yet to respond to his feelings about a third debate.

Poilievre recently skipped an unofficial, non-party organized debate while the candidates were in Alberta for the Calgary Stampede.

He’s been in Toronto lately, announcing Thursday that a federal government headed by him would approve a runway expansion at the city’s Billy Bishop Airport, opening the door to planes flying in and out of downtown.

The move, Poilievre said in a statement, would increase competition in the skies and provide another option for passengers using Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The main airport has recently struggled with flight delays and cancellations as airlines adjust to higher levels of passengers following quiet periods of the COVID-19 pandemic.


This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 21, 2022

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