09/21/2015 09:19 EDT | Updated 09/22/2015 07:00 EDT

Harper's Decision To Skip Women's Issue Discussion Met With Boos

Four other federal leaders took part in the event.

TORONTO — Federal party leaders courting female voters have made their pitch, laying out proposed childcare plans and promises of an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women Monday in pre-recorded statements to a panel of women.

But one leader was conspicuously absent — Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose decision not to attend elicited boos from the master of ceremonies at the start of the livestreamed discussion.

Comedian Jess Beaulieu joked that perhaps Harper would have participated if women bled oil every month.


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe spelled out their policies on issues such as violence against women and institutional sexism.

A federal leaders' debate on women's issues was called off last month after NDP Leader Tom Mulcair withdrew, citing the prime minister's absence.

The organization behind Monday's event said the new format — which saw pundits discuss the leaders' statements — was its Plan B.

"Women are here and if the leaders don't want to come in person, we're going to have the debate whether they like it or not," said panellist Laurie Monsebraaten, the social justice reporter for the Toronto Star, which sponsored the event.

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