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Mulcair's boycott of women's issues debate not 'smart politics,' says May

BURNABY, B.C. — Elizabeth May is accusing NDP Leader Tom Mulcair of giving cover to Stephen Harper by refusing to participate in debates his Conservative rival does not attend.

The Green party leader says it's shameful and shocking that Harper — and now Mulcair, as a result — won't show up for a scheduled debate on women's issues, which has since been cancelled as a result.

May says the other leaders should be holding Harper's feet to the fire by attending the debates, leaving an empty podium to indicate the prime minister's absence.

May made the comments while unveiling her party's national housing strategy in Burnaby, B.C.

May, who is running for re-election in Saanich-Gulf Islands, is urging Mulcair to reconsider, saying it's not smart politics for the NDP leader to be so dismissive of a debate about women's issues.

The debate's organizers say they will instead hold one-on-one interviews with the leaders to discuss issues important to women — an alternative Mulcair said he supports, because it allows for a complete discussion.

Mulcair says he would have preferred the full debate format with Harper present, but barring that, the individual interview is the best he can do under the circumstances.

The Canadian Press

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