TORONTO – Green Leader Elizabeth May should be allowed to participate in the Munk debate later this month, her Liberal rival said Monday, as she tried a last-ditch effort to get into the discussion on foreign policy.
The Greens have filed a complaint with the Canada Revenue Agency alleging the Munk debate format violates the agency’s policies that limit the political activities of charities.
The Aurea Foundation, a registered charity with the CRA, is helping fund the debate.
“I’m going to let the lawyers hash out the details of this one, but I will say that I was disappointed,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said in Toronto.
“She should be in the Munk debate because we know of all the different international issues facing Canada and the world, climate change is possibly, certainly one of the very top ones when we look at the future that we’re building for our kids and our grandkids.”
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Trudeau also said the decision to exclude May from last week’s economic debate in Calgary, hosted by the Globe and Mail, touched him on a personal level.
“My daughter watched my debate last Thursday night and it kind of bugs me that when she sees the people who could become prime minister, there wasn’t a woman among them,” he said.
“I think that’s yet another reason why Elizabeth May should be in the Munk debate and all debates.”
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The Greens argue that excluding May from the debate has put the Aurea Foundation in violation of the Income Tax Act. The law says it’s illegal for a charity to directly or indirectly support or oppose a political party and are calling on the CRA to conduct an immediate audit of the charity’s activities.
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The party says it will withdraw the complaint if May is invited to the debate, scheduled for next Monday at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.
In a letter sent to the CRA, Green party executive Emily McMillan writes that May was excluded from the debate because organizers only wanted to have the leaders of parties recognized as such under the Parliament of Canada Act.
With only two seats in the Commons, the Greens don’t have party status. But McMillan argues there is nothing in the Parliament of Canada Act to limit the meaning of “political party” that would justify May’s exclusion.