Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre
The team of Pierre Poilievre, candidate in the federal Conservative leadership race, indicated on Thursday that he will not take part in the third debate that the party plans to hold next month.
Jenni Byrne, a senior member of her team, released a statement on Twitter on Thursday afternoon after the party announced that it would, at the start of August, a third official debate.
According to the party statutes, candidates in the leadership race are required to participate in official debates, or face a fine.
Ms Byrne says candidate Poilievre has already taken part in the first two official debates, in addition to another organized in Ottawa by the Canada Strong and Free Network – an organization that promotes the conservative movement in the country.
Team Poilievre also castigates the party's English-language debate in Edmonton in May, calling it an embarrassment because it included sound effects and questions about the candidates' tastes in music and television.
The statement also says the party's planning for a third debate comes suddenly as the Poilievre team scrambles to get the activists' vote out.
Earlier this month, Mr. Poilievre did not participate in an unofficial debate held in Alberta when candidates were all in Calgary for the Stampede.
Members of the Leader's Choice Organizing Committee met on Wednesday evening and decided to hold a third official debate, following a poll of members.
Candidate Pierre Poilievre during the debate in French organized in a hotel in Laval.
Party spokesman Yaroslav Baran said 24,000 members responded overwhelmingly in favor of a third debate.
The event will take place somewhere in August – we should know the date later Thursday.
The candidates have already participated in two official debates in May, one in English in Edmonton and the other in French in Laval. The campaign teams had, however, been informed by party authorities that there could be a third official debate at the beginning of August.
This debate will take place as the postal ballot is already underway and the party has begun to receive ballots completed by members in good standing.
The event will also go ahead without Patrick Brown, who was disqualified from racing earlier this month due to an allegation that he allegedly violated federal election law, which he denies.
The results of the leadership race will be announced in Ottawa on September 10.
Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest urged party authorities to organize this third debate, and candidates Scott Aitchison and Roman Baber also demanded it. Leslyn Lewis's team had said they would participate if appropriate.