07/20/2015 03:12 EDT | Updated 07/20/2015 03:59 EDT

Liberals Say Tories' 'Partisan Gamesmanship' Hurting French Voters Most

Jacques Boissinot/La Presse canadienne

The Liberal party says “partisan gamesmanship” is behind the Conservatives’ decision to skip the pair of election debates organized by a consortium of Canadian broadcasters.

In a statement Monday, the Liberals say they’re concerned the interests of francophone Canadians are being sidelined by the Tories.

“Conservatives know that by turning down the consortium’s invitation, they are thumbing their noses at Quebecers and Francophones across the country.”

The Tories have said they will not participate in an English-language and a French-language debate held by the broadcast consortium, a group of TV networks that includes the CBC, Radio-Canada, Global News, CTV News, and Tele-Quebec.

Last week, Montreal-based newspaper La Presse joined the group to co-present the French debate.

The NDP, Liberals, Greens, and Bloc Quebecois are confirmed to participate in the consortium's French-language debate, which will air at 8 p.m. ET on Oct. 7.

The Tories have so far committed to doing one French debate with Quebec network TVA. Party spokesman Cory Hann told HuffPost Canada earlier this month they plan to confirm another French debate but did not offer any further details.

The Liberals say they want an equal number of French and English debates, and that the French debates should be made available to francophones across the country. TVA is a Quebec network, but has said it will make its debate available online as well.

Liberals also reaffirmed their position that Green Leader Elizabeth May deserves an invite to every major debate, saying “all parties represented in Parliament should be invited to participate.”

Earlier this year, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau threw his support behind May’s inclusion.

May told The Huffington Post Canada that Trudeau’s reasoning was twofold: He wanted to ensure environmental issues would be addressed, and that he wanted to show his young daughter that election debates are not a “boys-only thing.”

The federal election is scheduled for Oct. 19.

With files from Althia Raj

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