07/31/2015 03:26 EDT | Updated 07/31/2015 11:59 EDT

Federal Election 2015: Mulcair Won't Attend Consortium Debate Without Harper


The NDP announced Friday Thomas Mulcair will not participate in a broadcast consortium debate without Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The party issued a statement saying the party will continue to consider leaders’ debate proposals — but under a new set of conditions.

The NDP will make its final decisions to participate in proposed leaders’ debates based on the following criteria:

  • The host organization is credible and non-partisan;
  • The proposed topics to be discussed are varied and relevant to a large number of Canadians; and
  • The prime minister and other political party leaders are invited and have agreed to participate

Canada’s broadcast consortium — a network of broadcasters that includes the CBC, Radio-Canada, Global News, CTV News, and Tele-Quebec — is set to host two debates weeks before the October election.

A French-language leaders’ debate will be broadcasted Oct. 7 and an English-language debate is scheduled the following day.

Prior to Mulcair’s withdrawl, the NDP had confirmed its participation for the 1.5-hours English debate.

The Conservative Party rejected the consortium’s invitation in May.

Leaders’ debates are an “important” part of the electoral process, the NDP’s campaign director Anne McGrath said. She criticized Harper’s “my way or the highway” approach and his refusal to budge from his “no” stance.

“This debate about the debates is the direct result of the Conservative party’s unilateral break with traditional practice that, while not perfect, was coherent and functional,” said McGrath.

She urged that Conservatives “must explain to Canadians why they have yet to accept the broadcast consortium’s proposal and failed to put forward alternative solutions.”

The NDP will confirm its list of debates the party will participate in on Aug. 10.

Maclean’s is set to host the first national leaders’ debate on Aug. 6.

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