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Steve Bannon to participate in Munk Debates on populism

Steve Bannon coming to Toronto for Munk debate
WATCH ABOVE: On the heels of being ousted by the New Yorker Festival, Munk debates announced controversial media figure Steve Bannon will face off against Canadian-American journalist David Frum in an event billed as a discussion about the rise of populism. Jamie Mauracher has the details.

Steve Bannon will be participating in a Munk debate on the rise of populism, organizers announced Wednesday, just days after the controversial figure was dropped as a headliner of the New Yorker Festival.

The former White House chief strategist will debate senior editor of The Atlantic and media commentator David Frum at Roy Thomson Hall on Nov. 2.

Both men will take on “the rise of populism,” with Bannon on the “pro” side and Frum on the “con.”

READ MORE: Steve Bannon is setting up a foundation to lead Europe’s far-right revolution: report

“Throughout the Western world, politics is undergoing a sea-change. Long-held notions of the role of government, trade and economic policy, foreign policy and immigration are being challenged by populist thinkers and movements,” a description reads on the Munk Debates website.

“Does this surging populist agenda in Western nations signal a permanent shift in our politics? Or, is it a passing phenomenon that will remain at the fringes of society and political power?”

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The website said the debate itself will move the motion, “Be it resolved, the future of western politics is populist, not liberal…”

The New York Times reported Bannon was dropped from the New Yorker Festival as other high-profile guests, including Judd Apatow, Jack Antonoff and Jim Carrey said they would pull out of their respective events if he participated.

Rudyard Griffiths, the debates’ organizer and chair, said the event, which is scheduled days before the U.S. midterm elections, will showcase the two men’s “sharply different views” on the surging populist movement and its impact on Western politics.

“We believe we are providing a public service by allowing their ideas to be vigorously contested and letting the public draw their own conclusions from the debate,” he said in a statement.

“In our increasingly polarized societies we often struggle to see across ideological and moral divides. Civil and substantive public debate of the big issues of our time helps all of us better understand the challenges we face as a society and what, if anything, can be done to resolve them.”

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Frum, who was a speechwriter for former president George W. Bush and is the author of the recent book “Trumpocracy,” tweeted about the debate Wednesday morning.

“On the Friday before the most important midterm elections of our lifetimes, I will debate Steve Bannon at Canada’s @munkdebate – and argue that his politics will lose and liberal democracy prevail across the Western world,” he said.

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READ MORE: Steve Bannon tells far-right rally in France: ‘history is on our side’

The Munk Debates is a charitable initiative founded by Peter and Melanie Munk in 2008. The debates take place semi-annually and pits two figures against each other on major policy issues.

Past participants have included Henry Kissinger, Glenn Greenwald and Larry Summers.

Bannon is still set to speak at a festival hosted by The Economist later this month.

Zanny Minton Beddoes, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, said she was deeply troubled by Bannon’s far right stances but believed open debate was more important.

Beddoes will be interviewing Bannon in New York on Sept. 15 at The Economist’s “Open Future” gathering. Some speakers at the event have cancelled because of Bannon.

With files from The Canadian Press