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People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier ‘thrilled’ to be included in leaders’ debates

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Maxime Bernier was in New Brunswick when he learned his People’s Party of Canada would be allowed to take part in televised French and English debates – Sep 17, 2019

The federal leader who has arguably garnered the most attention in the last 24 hours is in New Brunswick.

Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, says his party has “momentum” a day after he was invited to take part in the French and English leaders’ debates.

“There’s a momentum for us right now,” Bernier told reporters at a campaign stop in Oromocto. “People will be able to see the other option and see the principle alternative.”

Bernier’s views have been a matter of debate and criticism, particularly his party’s immigration platform.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the 2019 federal leaders’ debates

On the campaign trail Tuesday, some of the other party leaders weighed in on Bernier’s invitation to the debates after his initial exclusion.

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“I look forward to holding him to account publicly for his intolerant views,” said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who was in St. John’s, N.L.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, speaking to reporters in Winnipeg, said he had debated Bernier before and was open to debate anyone.

“My focus is on Justin Trudeau,” he said.

WATCH: Andrew Scheer says he’s open to debate anyone

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Federal Election 2019: Andrew Scheer says he’s open to debate anyone – Sep 17, 2019

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, on the other hand, objected to Bernier’s participation, calling on debates commissioner David Johnston to reconsider his decision in a letter on Tuesday.

“I think it’s wrong to give someone like Mr. Bernier the platform to spread hateful and divisive messages,” Singh said.

READ MORE: Singh ‘troubled’ by Bernier’s invite to leaders’ debate, calls on commissioner to reconsider

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In response, Bernier said he was “looking to having a debate” with Singh.

“We’re going to speak about our values and our values are individual freedom, personal responsibility, respect and fairness,” he said.

University of New Brunswick Saint John political scientist J.P. Lewis says Bernier, whose party has shown low single-digit support nationally, has nothing to lose in the debate.

WATCH: Maxime Bernier invited to participate in federal election leaders’ debates

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Maxime Bernier invited to participate in federal election leaders’ debates – Sep 16, 2019

“I don’t think they would go in with the burden of thinking they’ll ever have to govern,” said Lewis. “That’s a much different approach to a debate.”

Bernier continues to campaign in a province where policy has been aimed at attracting more immigrants to grow the population — not something the PPC leader frowned upon in his comments Tuesday.

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“We need to receive fewer refugees and helping the real ones,” he said. “We can increase the economic immigrants and that’s what we want to do.”

Bernier will continue to campaign in the province on Wednesday, with stops scheduled in Miramichi and Moncton.