Progressive Conservatives pull out of CBC election debate
Tories disagree with Green Party and People's Alliance being included
The New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives have pulled out of CBC's upcoming provincial election debate.
The Tories contend the televised leaders debate on Sept. 9 should only involve their party, the Liberals and the NDP.
When CBC refused during a planning meeting on Tuesday to change the format, Progressive Conservative officials abruptly left.
"The position is the same position that it's always been in New Brunswick, at CBC New Brunswick, that any registered political party can take part in the debates," said Darrow MacIntyre, CBC's senior producer for news in New Brunswick.
"We don't see it at CBC as a problem to have all five parties," he said.
"All five parties are registered parties, they've been registered for a long time, they didn't just register to take part in this election campaign."
It's certainly odd. I've never seen it before, but you know politics, a lot of crazy things happen.- Stephen Yardy, NDP
The invitation for the Progressive Conservatives to join the debate remains open, but they will need to decide sooner rather than later, CBC officials said.
In the lead up to the last provincial election, the leaders of all five registered parties faced off.
Wes Gullison, deputy leader for the People's Alliance, believes all parties should be represented again.
"For the Tories to take that stand that they didn't want certain parties to participate in these debates and then to storm off is very unfortunate for the democracy of New Brunswick," he said.
Stephen Yardy, the NDP's executive director and campaign director, was also taken aback by the move.
"It's certainly odd. I've never seen it before, but you know politics, a lot of crazy things happen," he said.
"It says on one end that they're afraid to debate us and on the issues, we're happy to be there and take them."
Only 3 in French debate
Meanwhile, Radio-Canada has decided to exclude the two smaller parties from its French-language debate.
Radio-Canada officials say Green Party Leader David Coon and People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin are not sufficiently fluent in French.
Instead they will conduct interviews with both leaders in English and air them with French subtitles.
"It's extraordinarily frustrating," said Green Party campaign co-chair Marilyn Merritt-Gray.
"We encourage every francophone who would like to hear David, David's position, the Green Party position, to raise that issue," she said.
The provincial election will be held on Sept. 22.