Conservative leadership debate in disarray after MacKay decides to back out


OTTAWA — A new media organization’s plan to host all four Conservative leadership candidates for a debate tonight is in disarray after two of the contenders dropped out.

Leslyn Lewis announced today she is unable to appear due to an ear infection and on the advice of her doctor, though she has tested negative for COVID-19.

Shortly after, Peter MacKay declared he won’t go either, saying it wasn’t fair if only three of the four candidates are onstage, and called for the event to be rescheduled.

The event is being organized by the newly formed Independent Press Gallery of Canada, run by Candice Malcolm, a conservative columnist and analyst.

The organization was set up this year and journalists who wish to join must sign a declaration they will not accept any government funding.

The Conservative party did host two official leadership debates in June, and all four candidates appeared at those.