The Latest: First debate night of the campaign, minus the Liberal leader

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OTTAWA — The latest developments as federal party leaders take part in the first debate of the campaign (all times Eastern):

8:30 p.m.

The federal leaders debate has turned to Indigenous issues, putting Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in the crosshairs of Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May.

May and Singh say they would accept a human-rights tribunal ruling ordering the federal government to compensate Indigenous children and some family members harmed by underfunded on-reserve child-welfare systems.

They go after Scheer for not answering the question directly about accepting the ruling, which could cost more than $2 billion by one estimate.

Scheer also splits from his two opponents in the room over free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous communities for energy projects, saying one community shouldn’t be allowed to hold up a project when other Indigenous communities are in favour of it.

May says Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin could build First Nations infrastructure as a form of community service.

Scheer refers to the SNC-Lavalin affair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s involvement, then later says under the Conservatives the federal prosecution service would be allowed to independently decide whether to take the company to court on corruption charges.

 

8:25 p.m.

The three federal leaders taking part in tonight’s debate are taking their first break.

Just before the break, Green party Leader Elizabeth May took aim at NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s plan to provide dental care for all.

She says the party looked at such a plan, along with pharmacare, and believed it may be too costly to implement.

She questions how Singh’s NDP could pay for it all, and notes the Greens would focus on target a dental care program to low-income.

The three leaders are also asked about Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21, but known suggest they would not intervene in a court challenge to the legislation if elected to govern.

May suggests she would look to find jobs for those people who are forced to leave Quebec because they can no longer work.

 

8:15 p.m.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Green party Leader Elizabeth May say they would run governments that would live within their means.

Scheer says there are troubling signs that Canada could be headed into tough economic times, and warns there may not be enough fiscal room for the government to act.

Scheer says a Conservative government would balance the budget within five years.

Singh then takes aim at Scheer by bringing up the record of the previous Conservative government, saying a Tory government would cut services.

But after an intense back-and-forth, the three leaders agree on something: That Trudeau isn’t at the debate because he’s afraid of defending his record.

May quips that the trio can now sing “Kumbaya” and keep going with the debate.

 

8:10 p.m.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is making a pitch to Alberta voters while his opponents step onto a debate stage in Toronto for the first time this campaign.

At a rally in Edmonton, Trudeau says the rest of the country won’t forget Alberta as it goes through tough economic times due to drops in oil prices.

Trudeau’s rally started late, ensuring that it would overlap with the start of the Maclean’s/Citytv leaders debate, where a podium remains open for him.

The first question of the debate is for Green Leader Elizabeth May on her promise of a “guaranteed living income.”

May says the plan is very realistic, but will take some years to bring into place because of the need to set the payments at the right levels to cover the cost of living in different provinces and cities.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is warning about adding tens of billions of dollars in new spending without finding money to pay for its and pivots to talking about Trudeau.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh takes aim at Scheer, saying that a Conservative government would cut services.

 

7 p.m.

The three leaders taking part in tonight’s election campaign debate have made their way into the Citytv building in Toronto.

Partisan supporters are holding signs, cheering and chanting outside the building, including a group of Maxime Bernier supporters holding a sign asking to get the People’s Party leader into the night’s debate.

Green Leader Elizabeth May was the first to arrive.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer arrived next, and stopped to speak with a reporter after getting off his campaign bus, to say he is ready to talk about the Tory plan.

He also took a dig at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for not showing up.

May, Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh are taking part in the Maclean’s/Citytv debate while Trudeau is scheduled to hold a rally in Edmonton.

The Canadian Press

1 COMMENT

  1. I doubt Trudeau was MISSED by many. He has lots to hide and did not want to run the exposure risk. Is he any different than Trump?

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