NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is getting a lot of heat for backing out of a proposed leaders' debate on women's issues just because Conservative Leader Stephen Harper won't attend.
Up for Debate, an alliance of more than 175 women’s and other organizations, has now cancelled the event.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Green Leader Elizabeth May, and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe had agreed to participate.
In a news release today (August 25), May let everyone know what she thinks of Mulcair's move:
As the only woman leader of a federal political party, I know women have deep concerns about all areas of public policy. Excluding women's voices from debates is profoundly anti-democratic, yet the Conservatives and the NDP have now signalled repeatedly that the leaders’ debates they prefer are those with no woman leader present.
Now the debate on women's issues that had been in the works for months, a debate that had been agreed upon with an accepted date negotiated with the NDP, Liberals, Greens, and Bloc, has been cancelled.
Is it possible Thomas Mulcair has not considered the message this sends to young women and girls? I find it incomprehensible that someone leading a ‘progressive party’ would renege on a commitment to a broad coalition of social justice and feminist organizations. In the spirit of cooperation, I ask him to reconsider.
Meanwhile, Up for Debate announced today that the NDP, Liberals, Greens, and Bloc have agreed to "explore an alternative debate format" in place of a live debate.
The four party leaders will participate in one-on-one interviews on women's issues, which will be released on September 21 at Toronto’s Isabel Bader Theatre.
“It may not be the debate we first imagined – but an alternative can get all party leaders speaking on the record to issues that matter to women. And it will still be the first time that happens in 30 years,” Up for Debate spokesperson Ann Decter said in a news release.