Tories reverse decision, agree to CBC election debate

The New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives will participate in the CBC election debate after all, party officials announced on Friday.

Party had sought to have Green Party, People's Alliance excluded from Sept. 9 event

The New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives have reversed their controversial decision to boycott the CBC provincial election debate.

The party announced Friday that David Alward will participate in the Sept. 9 debate after all.

"David Alward is looking forward to a fair and fulsome debate that will clearly frame the choice between saying yes or no to job creation generated by the development of shale gas and other valuable natural resources," party president Jason Stephen said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the Tories decided to pull out of the televised event, saying they did not agree with allowing the smaller Green Party and People's Alliance to participate.

They argued the debate should only include the three main parties — the Progressive Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP.

Stephen does not address that issue in his statement. Instead, he says only that the party is pleased with the opportunity to have a "clear and comprehensive conversation on the future of jobs and natural resources in New Brunswick communities."

The decision comes after the party faced criticism for pulling out of the debate.

"David Alward is making his whole campaign about 'say yes' but the first thing he did was 'say no,'" Liberal campaign co-chair Dominic LeBlanc had said, referring to the Tories's campaign slogan, urging New Brunswickers to say yes to natural resource development.

"Why is he afraid of participating in the same form of debate he did just four years ago?" said LeBlanc, who is the MP for Beausejour.

"We welcome a full examination and full debate of our platform," he said.

Radio-Canada's French-language debate will only include the three main parties.

Radio-Canada officials decided Green Party Leader David Coon and People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin are not sufficiently fluent in French.

But they will interview both leaders in English and air them with French subtitles.

The provincial election will be held on Sept. 22.

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