The federal Conservative Party says it won’t participate in the traditional leaders’ debates run by a consortium of broadcasters including CBC, CTV and Global and will instead take part in up to five independently staged debates in the run-up to the fall federal election, the Globe's Stephen Chase reports.
The decision by the Harper Conservatives appears to deal a serious if not fatal blow to the near-monopoly that broadcasters such as CBC have had in determining how federal political leaders square off before national ballots.
Conservative campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke said the Tories have accepted invitations to participate in two rival debates – one organized by Maclean’s magazine and its owner Rogers, and the other by French-language broadcaster TVA. The Conservative decision puts pressure on other federal political parties to follow suit in abandoning the consortium-run debates which have almost always controlled these events.
The New Democrats said they have also accepted TVA’s and Maclean’s debate invites, as well as one put forward by an initiative on women’s equality called Up for Debate.
An NDP spokesperson said New Democrats are still mulling over the proposal from the traditional broadcast consortium and have yet to make a decision.
The rejection of the broadcast consortium as the sponsor and manager of political debates – a role they’ve played for decades – doesn’t prevent outlets such as CBC or CTV from bringing their television cameras to the new independently run debates and broadcasting these events.