CanadaSingh ‘troubled’ by Bernier’s invite to leaders’ debate, calls on commissioner to reconsider
‘I don’t believe in mass immigration’: Maxime Bernier at PPC rally in Napanee
During the rally, Bernier told Global News, “We must not fear the fact that the climate is changing, but there’s no emergency crisis.” About 100 people from across Ontario attended a rally with People's Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier at the Napanee Lions Banquet Hall. The PPC is putting itself on the political map by speaking freely about controversial topics including climate change and mass immigration. On Sept. 4, Bernier sent out multiple tweets calling climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, “mentally unstable.
NDP Leadersaid in a letter Tuesday that he is "troubled" that People's Party of Canada (PPC) Leader has been invited to participate in the leaders' debate and called on debates commissioner David Johnston to reconsider his decision.
"I am troubled by your decision to allow the leader of the People's Party of Canada in the debates," the letter reads. "It is wrong that Mr. Bernier be given a platform to promote an ideology of hate that spreads prejudice and disinformation."
Party leaders rip into conspicuously absent Justin Trudeau at first leaders' debate
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer took aim at a conspicuously absent Justin Trudeau, while Green Party leader Elizabeth May and the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh sparred largely at each other in an attempt to cement themselves firmly in third place in the polls, at the first leaders’ debate on Thursday night in Toronto. Thursday’s Maclean’s/City TV debate was the first of four in the federal election campaign, and the first time Scheer and Singh are participating in a leaders debate. Trudeau has chosen to attend only a single English language debate on Oct. 7 and will participate in both French language debates.
The letter comes a day after it was announced Bernier would be invited to participate in Canada's official leadership debates in October.
Singh claims Bernier should not be allowed to participate in the debates because he has "courted racists to run for his party," "frequently promotes damaging conspiracy theories" on social media and has been photographed with "far-right hate groups with neo-Nazi ties."
"These are not the actions of a person who has earned the privilege of promoting their agenda on a national stage," Singh wrote.
Bernier was not invited to the debates when the commission sent the first invites to party leaders in August.
Thomas Walkom: Singh and May are in a battle for third place
So far in the federal election race, Elizabeth May’s Greens and Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats remain in a virtual draw. Both leaders have, in effect, admitted that their parties have no chance at forming government. Rather, they are vying for third place in the hope of holding the balance of power should the Oct. 21 vote result in a hung Parliament. This explains much of their behaviour. In Thursday’s leaders’ debate, for instance, they spent little time attacking Justin Trudeau, the absent Liberal prime minister. Rather they focused their ire on Conservative leader Andrew Scheer – and, to a lesser extent, on one another.
However, Bernier argued that not inviting him to take part was the commission’s way of excluding his party, which he says is the only one that has anything different to say.
“It won’t be a real debate if I’m not there,” he told candidates and supporters at his party’s first national conference in August.
“It will be a phony discussion where they attack each other on their superficial differences.”
According to the Leaders' Debate Commission, for a federal political party to be included in the official debates, it must satisfy two of the following three criteria:
Whether the party is represented in the House of Commons by an MP who was elected as a member of that party.
Whether a party intends to endorse candidates in at least 90 per cent of the country’s 338 ridings.
Whether a party has a “legitimate chance” of electing more than one MP, based on “recent political context, public opinion polls and previous general election results.”
338Canada: The very long odds for the PPC
Philippe J. Fournier: The debate commission ruled Bernier's party has a legitimate shot at winning more than one seat. The 338Canada model suggests not.
According to the, when the initial invitations were sent in August, the PPC satisfied only one criterion.
"At that time in the electoral cycle, and with the evidence then available, the Commissioner did not consider that the PPC had a legitimate chance to elect more than one candidate," the release reads. "The Commission indicated this was a preliminary assessment and that it would seek further information."
However, in a news release issued Monday, Johnston said he was "satisfied that more than one candidate endorsed by the party has a reasonable chance to be elected."
"With the benefit of more recent information, I am of the view that the PPC has attracted a significant number of party members, has established a notable presence in the media and on the political landscape and, based on recent polling data, has achieved a reasonable chance of success in more than one riding,” Johnston said in the release.
In the letter, Singh said he disagrees with Johnston's findings, saying "most informed political analysts believe his party is unlikely to gain seats in this election."
Don’t be afraid of including Maxime Bernier in debates
Don’t be afraid of including Maxime Bernier in debates
Singh also urges Johnston to reconsider his decision.
"Canadians deserve to hear an open political debate between different points of view," he wrote. "They are not well served by a debate that instead needs to spend its time defending values that are already at the core of what Canadians believe."
Global News has reached out to the PPC for comment, but has not heard back by time of publication.
Speaking at an event in St. John's, N.L., on Tuesday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he looks forward to holding Bernier to account publicly for what he says are his "intolerant views."
"And I certainly hope all of the leaders will do the same," Trudeau said.
At an event in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he will debate "anybody who is ready to be the prime minister."
In an emailed statement from the Green Party, a spokesperson confirmed that "Ms. May said, 'He met the criteria. I welcome him to the debate!'"
— With files from Rachael D'Amore
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