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A final conservative debate that will not go down in history

The only three candidates who presented themselves in the very lackluster last debate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada attacked each other very little, reserving their criticisms of Justin Trudeau or the alleged leader of the race, Pierre Poilievre, who shone with his absence.

Organized in a complex of industrial premises located on the outskirts of Ottawa, near the airport, the third meetingyou party official brought together only the former Premier of Quebec Jean Charest, the Ontario federal deputy Scott Aitchison and the former Ontario provincial deputy Roman Baber, around the same table in a cramped room.

The organization promised to “energize new and returning members” with an event that lives up to its budget, as guided by its conservative principles. She delivered a debate without an audience, elaborate camera shots, and afflicted with some sound issues.

“We all agree, a true leader needs to present himself,” dropped Jean Charest in English as an attack on his main opponent, Pierre Poilievre.

The charge was sent simultaneously on social networks, where the Charest clan shared messages such as “Where is Peter? and “Are you scared, bro?” » (« You scared, bro? “), taking up the aesthetics of Internet memes.

Call to vote

Meanwhile, on the artisanal television set, Mr. Charest once again presented himself as the only candidate capable of winning the next election, which he said could be called any day given the status minority of the Trudeau government. “You can unite this party,” he insisted, pointing at the camera.

The former premier of Quebec saved attacks on candidates Aitchison and Baber, who were trying to convince listeners to place them on the first choice of their ballot. The exercise proved to be more perilous in the second half of the debate, held in the language of Molière.

The themes of health, transportation and taxation, in particular, gave rise to generally consensual speeches centered on the need to defeat the Liberal Party in the next federal election.

At most, the candidates politely debated the merits of supply management in the dairy industry, a program of which Mr. Charest said he was the only defender. Scott Aitchison insisted on the perils of the division of the conservatives. Roman Baber alluded to his opposition to certain health measures against COVID-19 and asked to imagine him facing in the next election Justin Trudeau, “or worse, Chrystia Freeland”. “By the next elections, I will speak French [aussi bien] than English,” Mr. Aitchison promised in his closing argument.

The exchanges during the previous debates were marked by the rivalry between the candidates Pierre Poilievre and Jean Charest. The two men have transposed their attacks on the Web, where they have been insulting each other for several months. As of Wednesday, 150,000 Conservative members had already voted for their next leader, or about 22% of the roughly 678,000 members.

Better to do than debate

Two of the five candidates for leader had better things to do than show up in the final debate: Ontario MP and front-runner Pierre Poilievre, as well as Ontario MP and candidate who champions the opposition to the law. Abortion, Leslyn Lewis.

Even though the meeting was taking place a stone’s throw from his riding of Carleton, Pierre Poilievre declined his party’s invitation, arguing that he had crossed swords enough with his opponents during the race. His campaign had already ridiculed the organization of the only official debate in English, in Edmonton. Mr. Poilievre was in Saskatchewan on Wednesday evening, where he mocked the exercise. “Looks like they’re playing a little game of cards,” he told his supporters.

The only Quebec elected official who supports his campaign, Pierre Paul-Hus, told the To have to Wednesday that he did not know if he himself was going to watch this debate, which he described as useless.

Candidate Leslyn Lewis also announced her absence from this last debate, citing a scheduling conflict with an event already planned for her campaign. The absent candidates were assessed a $50,000 penalty by the party.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who took part in other official debates as a candidate, was disqualified from the leadership race by Conservative Party authorities in July. He is accused of having “accepted donations from a company”, which is contrary to Canadian electoral law, as well as irregularities in the sale of several hundred membership cards.

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