By The Canadian Press on September 12, 2019.
OTTAWA – How do you debate a prime minister who doesn’t show up?
That’s what leaders of the Conservative, NDP and Green parties are mulling over Thursday as they prepare for the first leaders debate of the federal election campaign tonight in Toronto.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau isn’t attending the Maclean’s/CityTV event, choosing instead to spend the second day of the campaign in B.C. and Alberta, the latter hostile territory for the Liberal leader when it comes to the subject of oilsands development.
He said he was looking forward to the trips, and ahead to the officially sanctioned debates in October, plus another French-language one hosted by TVA that he will attend.
“The opportunity to get out across this country, speak with Canadians, listen to them, and talk about how we are going to build a better future for everyone and how we’re going to choose a better future for everyone is at the core of what this election is all about for me,” Trudeau said at an event in Victoria where he announced more help for first-time home buyers.
“I’m going to keep doing that.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he’s not surprised Trudeau isn’t showing up for the debate, given the re-emergence of SNC-Lavalin in the headlines via a Globe and Mail newspaper report that the RCMP’s examination of potential obstruction of justice had been stymied by cabinet secrecy.
But that’s not the only thing holding him back, Scheer alleged.
“I note that this evening, a part of the debate will be focused on foreign affairs,” Scheer said at a morning event in Toronto where he highlighted the party’s pledge to offer a tax credit on employment insurance payments to people on parental leave.
“And if there’s one area where Justin Trudeau’s failures have been so visible to Canadians, so evident that Canadians can immediately understand, it’s on the subject of foreign affairs.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spent the morning in Brampton, Ont., pledging funds to build a new local hospital for the booming Toronto-area community.
Singh said he’s disappointed Trudeau has decided to skip the leaders debate, as Canadians expect him to show up and defend his record. “His record is pretty abysmal but that doesn’t mean he should give up on the debate.”
People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was not invited to the debate.
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