Maxime Bernier says there won’t be a ‘real’ leaders’ debate if he’s not invited

People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier delivers an address at the PPC national conference in Gatineau, Que. on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — Maxime Bernier argued that not inviting him to take part in the official election debates means excluding the only political party leader who has anything different to say.

“It won’t be a real debate if I’m not there,” Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, said to candidates and supporters at his party’s first national conference in Gatineau, Que., on Sunday.

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“It will be a phony discussion where they attack each other on their superficial differences.”

Bernier said the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Greens and Bloc Quebecois all share similar views on things like immigration, climate change and supply management in the dairy sector.

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Bernier dismissed his political rivals as espousing varying degrees of left-leaning views, including the Conservatives.

He accused both the Conservatives, a party he represented for over a decade, and the Liberals of catering to those they think will elect them.

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“While the other parties look at polls and focus groups to decide what they stand for, and pander to every special interest group, we follow our principles,” said Bernier, who said his party does not do any polling.

Those other parties have all qualified for the debates, to be held Oct. 7 and Oct. 10, under criteria established by the federal government.

Bernier said he is confident the head of the Leaders’ Debates Commission will change his mind and allow him to join the others onstage.

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