Munk Debates calls on federal leaders to sign up for foreign policy debate

OTTAWA — A proposed leaders’ debate on foreign policy already has one confirmed participant, with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer quickly accepting an invitation to participate in the Munk Debates event scheduled for Oct. 1.

The Munk Debates, which organizes several events on different issues each year, announced Thursday its plans for a federal election debate involving the leaders of the Liberals, the Conservatives, the NDP and the Green Party.

On its website, the group says the event will go ahead once all four party leaders confirm their attendance, with a Sept. 24 deadline for replies. The website includes a petition aimed at pressuring the four to take part in the foreign policy-focused debate.

“In a normal election debate, foreign policy often becomes an afterthought,” Rudyard Griffiths, the organizer of the Munk Debates, said in an interview.

Griffiths, who will also be the prospective event’s moderator, said the current global context makes a debate centred specifically on foreign policy even more relevant now than in the last election.

“We are living through a once-in-a-generation period of global tumult,” he said.

Scheer jumped at the chance to debate foreign policy — an area in which he contends Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shown “weakness and poor judgment.”

A spokesperson for the Liberal Party said Trudeau has not yet decided whether to participate, though he has committed to two official televised leaders’ debates. The NDP said it would respond to the invitation once work on the Jagmeet Singh’s campaign schedule is complete.

The Green Party did not immediately respond to requests to confirm whether Elizabeth May would participate in the proposed Munk debate.

Soon after the announcement, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier critiqued the decision not to offer him an invitation.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the PPC said the decision was a “blatant betrayal of the democratic process” and the invited leaders “will have nothing to debate.”

The spokesperson said excluding the PPC meant the debate would not reflect the views of many Canadians who share Bernier’s perspective, which is different from the “homogeneous” beliefs of the four invited leaders.

The PPC cited its opposition to the United Nations and its promise to abolish development aid as examples of its unique policy positions.

Griffiths said his organization has a responsibility to “strike a balance” between providing Canadians with a look at the views of parties they might vote for while also keeping the debate manageable and informative.

He emphasized that the invited leaders represent parties supported by roughly 90 per cent of Canadians, based on current polling. His organization had to draw a line somewhere on who could be included, carefully balancing the value to voters with the constraints of actually holding the event, he added.

“It would be ideal to have the leaders of every party on this stage, but that’s no longer a debate, that’s something else,” Griffiths said.

“We are not the only debate happening, so we don’t have to be all things to all people,” he added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is cancelling his planned trip to… Continue reading

Town of Ponoka facing lawsuit from pair of local residents

Ponoka town council members and administration have been served with a lawsuit… Continue reading

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

TYENDINAGA, Ont. — Hours of talks between the federal government and representatives… Continue reading

Red Deer County investing in fibre optics

County investing $7 million over two years to improve Internet connections

Fashion Fridays: Apple body types: What you need to know

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 6 A Perogie Supper is being held Thursday, Feb. 6 from… Continue reading

Woman loses 50 pairs of shoes after boyfriend accidentally donates them to thrift store

Cassandra Converse can’t wait to go shoe shopping. Last month, Converse’s boyfriend… Continue reading

RDC Queens fall in double OT to MacEwan University Griffins

Griffins 4 Queens 3 (2OT) The RDC Queens managed to salvage a… Continue reading

Trump takes Daytona 500 warmup lap in presidential limousine

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump gave an election-year embrace to… Continue reading

Canada expected to support heavy fuel ban in Arctic despite costs to northerners

The federal government is expected to support international measures that would reduce… Continue reading

Nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

OTTAWA — The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is warning that the… Continue reading

‘Sonic’ speeds to $57M debut; ‘Parasite’ sees big Oscar bump

NEW YORK — The redesigned “Sonic the Hedgehog” showed plenty of teeth… Continue reading

Justin Timberlake on ‘trauma’ of being pelted with bottles at SARS concert

TORONTO — Justin Timberlake is still haunted by being pelted with what… Continue reading

Most Read