Conservatives seek five election debates but not traditional format

The Conservative party wants to increase the number of election debates, but also change who gets to host them.

OTTAWA — The Conservative party wants to increase the number of election debates, but also change who gets to host them.

The consortium of broadcasters that traditionally hosts the leaders’ debates had proposed four such meetings ahead of the October 19 vote, but the Conservatives prefer to explore other options, the party said in a statement Tuesday.

“We believe the diversity and innovation inherent in different debate sponsors and approaches is valuable,” party spokesman Kory Teneycke said in the statement.

“Therefore we have decided to decline the proposal from the broadcast consortium for four debates, which for practical purposes would effectively exclude other media and organizations capable of hosting debates of this nature.”

The party has already accepted an offer from TVA for a French-language debate and one from Macleans/Rogers for an English-language debate.

Individual networks are welcome to make proposals, but the Conservatives will not agree to any debates set up by the consortium, Teneycke clarified in an interview.

“We won’t participate in any. It’s a hard No,” he said. “We have many, many offers from other credible media outlets.”

The Conservatives are willing to take part in another French debate and up to two more English ones, for a total of five, the statement said.

At least one other media organization, The Globe and Mail, has said publicly it has submitted a proposal to host a debate.

Teneycke said the party will decide on a case-by-case basis which offers it will accept.

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