By Charlie Senack
Pierre Poilievre’s team says he won’t be at the third Conservative Party leadership debate being held next week, after calling the last debate in May “an embarrassment.”
Jenni Byrne, a senior member of Poilievre’s campaign team, said in a statement posted to Twitter that the Carleton MP has participated in two debates already, and attacked the Edmonton debate for bias.
“The Party chose a Laurentian elite liberal media personality to moderate the Edmonton debate. Rather than address public policy issues, he asked pointless questions like ‘what book are you reading’ and ‘what are you binge-watching on TV’?,” wrote Byrne. “He played a sad trombone sound when a candidate or the audience didn’t comply with his stupid rules. Candidates were given ping pong paddles to hold up when they wanted to speak. It was more of a game show than a debate. And it happened despite strong cautions to the Party about both the moderator and format — all of which were ignored.”
Byrne also said the first two debates were scheduled in the midst of campaigning, resulting in candidates being forced to stop travel — a key time for picking up new party memberships.
While no date or location has been set for the third party leadership debate, it will take place in August, “smack dab in the middle of the get out the vote period,” noted Byrne.
According to the Poilievre campaign, he has sold 311,958 memberships.
The next leader of the Conservative party will be chosen on September 12, and Byrne says Poilievre will be on the road — without interruption — until then, getting new and existing members to fill out their leadership ballots.
Poilievre is seen as a frontrunner in the race, up against four other candidates. He was up against six, but former Ontario PC Leader turned Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown was disqualified from the leadership game after allegedly breaking finance rules, which he denies.
With Brown now out, many political insiders believe it will make a Poilievre win even more likely, coming on top of former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who is seen as the next biggest challenger.
It’s been a campaign of harsh words between Polilevre and Charest, as both try to steer the party in very different directions. Charest has attacked Carleton’s MP for his open support of the so-called “freedom” trucker convoy, whereas Poilievre has gone after Charest for being too Liberal.
That was a message Byrne also alluded to in her statement on behalf of the Poilievre campaign.
“Thousands and thousands of Canadians have come to our campaign events. Our largest event had 7,000 people attend. Jean Charest has had a hard time getting even a couple dozen people to his campaign events,” she said. “That is why he wants another debate; to use Pierre’s popularity with the members to bring out an audience he can’t get on his own. No one is interested in a scandal plagued, tax and spend, carbon tax-loving, defeated Liberal Premier.”
The Manotick Messenger has tried on a number of occasions to get an interview with Poilievre regarding his campaign, but has had no such luck. He has been Carleton’s representative at Parliament since 2004.