Maxime Bernier left out of upcoming leaders’ debate

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The Leaders’ Debate Commission, the body organizing two major federal election debates, has invited the leaders of five political parties to participate but not the People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh have secured tickets to the October 7 English-language debate and the French-language affair on October 10.

These debates will be carried by a consortium of major television broadcasters, including CBC.

In a letter to Bernier, David Johnston, the former governor general and the commissioner of the debate organizing group, said that the People’s Party has not yet met one of the criteria to participate in the televised debates, namely that the party isn’t represented in the House of Commons by an MP who was elected as a member of that party. Bernier was elected as a Conservative in 2015 before leaving to start his new party after a failed Tory leadership run.

Beyond that, Johnston said a survey of recent opinion polls — including the CBC News Poll Tracker — led him to conclude that the People’s Party would have a difficult time actually getting one of its candidates elected in the October 21 election.

According to the poll tracker, if the election were held today, the People’s Party is projected to win zero or one seat based on its current 3.1 per cent polling average.

However, the decision to exclude Bernier could be reversed if the party submits a list of three to five ridings where the party believes it is most likely to elect a candidate — and then, Johnston said, the debate commission would conduct independent polling of its own in those ridings to verify that Bernier’s chosen candidate has a reasonable chance of winning that seat.

Bernier said the People’s Party has an “excellent chance for rapid growth” if Canadians get a chance to hear the party’s message, which includes a promise to end supply management in the agricultural sector, do away with corporate welfare and significantly reduce legal immigration, among other right-wing policy proposals.

The commission will make a final decision on whether to include Bernier by September 16.

Party leaders must meet at least two of three criteria to participate in the debates.

The criteria are:

1. The party is represented in the House of Commons by a member of Parliament who was elected as a member of that party;
2. The commissioner considers that the party intends to endorse candidates in at least 90 per cent of electoral districts in the general election in question;
3. The party’s candidates for the most recent general election received at that election at least four per cent of the number of valid votes cast or based on the recent political context, public opinion polls and previous general election results, the commissioner considers that candidates endorsed by the party have a legitimate chance to be elected in the general election in question. -CINEWS

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