PC party rejects candidates' call for televised debate

The Progressive Conservative party of Alberta is rejecting a call by candidates Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver for a televised leadership debate.

Lukaszuk and McIver tell PC party Albertans need chance to get to know contenders

Alberta PC leadership candidates Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver both say they want to hold a public leadership debate. (CBC)

The Progressive Conservative party of Alberta is rejecting a call by candidates Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver for a televised leadership debate. 

In a written statement sent Monday, PC Party president Jim McCormick said that the party is focusing on implementing a "revolutionary e-voting system."

"We are not prepared to change that commitment at this stage in the campaign," McCormick said adding that the party has hosted seven events that each candidate was mandated to attend.

A live debate hosted by the youth wing of the party on Aug. 21 will be live streamed on YouTube, McCormick said.

Earlier on Monday, Lukaszuk and McIver asked the PC Party to work with media outlets in the province to coordinate a public debate.

The two candidates made the announcement at the Alberta Legislature in which they released a letter they sent to McCormick on Aug. 6.

In their letter, Lukaszuk and McIver say many Albertans have not yet had the chance to get to know the three leadership candidates.

Speaking Monday, Lukaszuk said a televised debate is typical in such cases, as whoever wins the leadership campaign will become premier.

“Albertans deserve to get to know us and see our different policy alternatives – but most importantly, public debate eliminates the possibility of sending a mixed messages to different crowds under different circumstances,” Lukaszuk said.

“All Albertans should be hearing the same thing form all candidates no matter where they are.”

“One of the things Albertans need to know is what their potential leader is going to say to all Albertans – not a tailored message to a tailored audience,” agreed McIver.

Debate call deemed 'grandstanding'

Lukaszuk said at least two major television networks had come forward to host the debate, but would require the participation of candidates in the running.

McIver and Lukaszuk said they had asked Jim Prentice, the third candidate in question, to sign their original letter requesting a televised debate.

“There’s a blank space for a signature,” said Lukaszuk when asked whether Prentice had been approached.

“I guess potentially the other candidate could still sign it but I haven’t heard yet that that’s the plan,” added McIver. “Perhaps its not as important to him as it is to us that we have this full public debate.”

On Sunday night, a spokesman for Jim Prentice told CBC News that Prentice supports the idea of a televised debate. In a written statement sent to a Radio-Canada reporter on Monday. Bill Anderson said that Prentice has taken part in eight all-candidate debates since the start of the campaign and has committed to two more.

He said there is "little to debate until all candidates have stated their vision and policy positions" and said the call for a televised debate by the other candidates "amount to nothing more than a desperate attempt to draw attention to their campaigns."

"This morning’s press conference from Ric McIver and Thomas Lukaszuk is nothing more than grandstanding and engaging in political stunts," Anderson wrote. "The fact that they’re combining in their desperate efforts calls into question exactly how many do-overs they need."

After remaining silent all day, Prentice used Twitter to fire back at his opponents Monday evening: 


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