(Edmonton) Conservatives tuned in to the party’s upcoming leadership debate hope to see the six candidates vying for the party’s top job put an end to personal attacks, a campaign co-chairman said.
He wants candidates to talk about the issues and debate them vigorously without it getting personal, said B.C. MP Ed Fast, who is part of former Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s leadership campaign. .
He mentions that in the end, all are “part of the conservative family” and that they must come together to lead the next election and succeed.
Mr. Charest along with the other five leadership candidates will travel to Edmonton to participate in the party’s first official leadership debate to be held in English on Wednesday. Another debate in French will take place two weeks later.
Party members and interested Canadians had a chance to see how five of the six candidates reacted to each other when they took to the stage in Ottawa last week for an unofficial debate, held as part of a conference for conservative supporters.
They saw an hour and a half of heated exchanges, during which Leslyn Lewis criticized fellow MP Pierre Poilievre for his stance against COVID-19 measures. Mr. Poilievre attacked Jean Charest for his past work with the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, in addition to accusing him of being a liberal for having led the Liberal Party of Quebec.
“Our members are very engaged,” said Andrew Scheer, the former Conservative leader and Saskatchewan MP who is now working to elect Mr. Poilievre.
“Our members want to see how the leadership contestants can handle each other’s fights, because it’s going to be a lot tougher in a general election campaign,” Scheer said.
Speaking ahead of last week’s debate, he said Mr Poilievre – who has earned a reputation as a bulldog from years of aggressive performances in the House of Commons – also has a deep knowledge of politics .
“He’s one of the best-prepared MPs I’ve ever seen,” Mr. Scheer said.
Laryssa Waler, who previously served as communications director to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, said the debates take a back seat to the party affiliation candidates must announce to their supporters. here on June 3, if they hope to rely on them to choose their name on the party’s ranked ballot.
She said when watching the debates, it’s important to remember that most conservatives have already decided which candidate to support. Those on stage are also looking for opportunities to reduce support from rivals, Waler added.
“Everyone on this stage needs Pierre Poilievre not to get 50%,” she said, referring to the fact that a candidate must have majority support to be declared the winner when the ballots are counted. ballots on September 10.
“If Pierre Poilievre gets 50%, it’s over,” she said.
Poilievre returns to Edmonton after hosting a rally in the city last month that drew more than 2,000 people. His raucous events have been a defining feature of his campaign, which connoisseurs say is a sign of momentum rarely seen in leadership contests.
A big difference between last week’s debate and Wednesday’s will be the presence of Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ontario. He had decided to forgo last week’s event to sell memberships. He did, however, declare that he “won” in an email sent afterwards.
In a message sent to party members ahead of Wednesday’s debate, Mr. Brown criticized Mr. Poilievre’s embrace of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as a way to fight inflation, calling it “wacky investment advice.”
“Now is not the time for wealthy career politicians promoting get-rich-quick schemes,” Brown wrote Tuesday.
The latter, like Jean Charest, saw a path to victory by bringing in masses of new Conservative members, rather than trying to win over the existing base. Mr. Brown specifically focuses his efforts on gaining the support of racialized Canadians.
Michelle Rempel Garner, a longtime Calgary MP and Brown’s campaign co-chair, said the party needed to grow in those big-city communities to be more competitive with the Liberals.
As such, she hopes viewers of Wednesday’s debate will put themselves in the shoes of an undecided voter and wonder who is best positioned to secure a victory for the Conservative Party in the upcoming federal election.
Topics expected to be covered in Wednesday’s debate include the future of energy and the environment, law and order, cost of living and the North.
MP Rempel Garner said it would be wise for the party to organize the topics so that the candidates tackle issues that in the past have prevented Canadians from voting for the Conservatives.
“Specifically topics like child care, support for religious freedoms, support for the LGBTQ community, our position on women’s rights, reproductive health and climate,” she lists.
She points out that these are all issues that have repeatedly plagued the party over several elections.