Justin Trudeau won’t commit to leaders’ debate on women’s issues

Tom Mulcair and Elizabeth May say yes to Up for Debate campaign

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      Green Leader Elizabeth May says she’s stunned that Justin Trudeau of the Liberals hasn’t agreed to participate in a proposed federal party leaders’ debate on issues of women’s equality.

      “Yes, I am surprised, but I’m also horrified that the Liberals are voting for Bill C-51,” the Saanich–Gulf Islands MP told the Georgia Straight by phone from her constituency office in Sidney, referring to the Conservative government’s controversial antiterrorism legislation.

      Up for Debate, an alliance of more than 100 women’s and other organizations, is calling on party leaders to commit to a nationally broadcast debate in this year’s election on such issues as pay equity, childcare, and violence against women. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and May have said yes, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Bloc Québécois Leader Mario Beaulieu, and Trudeau have not responded.

      “We do look forward to the eventual discussions that will be had on the subject of leaders’ debates,” Cameron Ahmad, Trudeau’s press secretary, told the Straight by phone from Ottawa. “But, for now, our focus remains meeting as many Canadians as possible across the country.”

      On its website, Up for Debate points out that then party leaders John Turner, Brian Mulroney, and Ed Broadbent took part in a debate on women’s issues in the 1984 federal election. Since then, according to May, leaders’ debates have tended to give women’s rights short shrift.

      “It seems to me that in election campaigns, the major national networks decide in conjunction with the major national parties that there are key ballot-box issues, and then they’ll decide other issues aren’t ballot-box issues,” May said. “They’ll decide environment’s not a ballot-box issue, women’s issues are not ballot-box issues.”

      Green Leader Elizabeth May says leaders’ debates tend to ignore issues of women’s equality.
      Green Party of Canada/Flickr

      Irene Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer, executive director of Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre, told the Straight that “men’s issues are always at the forefront” despite the fact women make up more than half the Canadian population.

      “If women are being sexually assaulted and abused by men, it’s a men’s issue,” Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer said by phone from her Vancouver office. “So let’s call it a men’s issue.”

      On Saturday (April 11), Up for Debate will host a public forum at the Vancouver Public Library (350 West Georgia Street).



      Chuck B.

      Apr 8, 2015 at 4:25pm

      I object. If there is a debate on Women's issues there should also be a debate on men's issues.

      @Chuck B

      Apr 8, 2015 at 5:44pm

      Chuck B is not your real name......it's probably Stephen Harper.


      Apr 8, 2015 at 5:52pm

      I'd like to see a national debate on divorced men's issues. We could invite Anne MacLelland and hear her justify the gov'ts power to destroy men emotionally and financially while using all the power the law can provide in tearing apart any relationship he might ever have with his children.


      Apr 8, 2015 at 7:44pm

      Who is advising Justin?

      The same inept crew who told him to support Harper's terror bill - even before he saw it?

      Justin has to have some spine - and stand up to his handlers - and debate with adults.

      Tom Mulcair and the New Democrats look better every day!

      Slithering Snakeman

      Apr 8, 2015 at 9:02pm

      OK, women's issues are important. I, however, would prefer to see a debate on the economy. Noticed Alberta's in the shitter and the federal gov't's been selling off its GM shares prior to announcing its long-delayed budget. And the head of the BoC hasn't exactly been quelling my fears...


      Edward Bernays

      Apr 9, 2015 at 9:16am

      Trudeau the Lesser will be permitted to participate in as few debates as possible. He is not a gifted speaker nor quick on his feet. Only last week he stood and spoke in the house without reading from a prepared text for the first time. Jumbled thoughts, incomplete sentences and questionable vocabulary resulted. Hold your nose and vote NDP.


      Apr 9, 2015 at 11:24am

      Advocating for a leader's debate on women's issues doesn't preclude other debates about the economy, security, and all other regular debate topics. Getting a leader's debate on issues of childcare, violence, unpaid work,etc., also affects men. Improving conditions for women in this country isn't at the cost of men's issues. Clearly men would benefit from better childcare and strategies for less violence against both women, men, and children.


      Apr 9, 2015 at 12:42pm

      Q: What do you call a leader who can't take a stand?
      A: A follower.

      Vote Green!!!


      Apr 9, 2015 at 1:09pm

      I haven't missed voting in anything since I was old enough in '72 but I have to say I would rather tear up my ballot than vote for trudeau.


      Apr 9, 2015 at 1:12pm

      This article is garbage. Attempting to make Justin Trudeau look like he does not care about women's issues. The author has no evidence of the sort that Trudeau feels that way so the individual chooses to spin it in that sense. If Trudeau has not given a response it does not mean he is against something. Nothing but spin & smear far from straight talk. This article kind of deviates from the actual issue and that is Gender Equality and violence against women.