Conservative leader Eric Duhaime wants to debate in English even without the Premier Legault


"Absentees are always wrong," said the Quebec Conservative Party (CPQ), which is inviting Liberal leader Dominique Anglade to participate in an English-language debate during the upcoming election campaign even if Premier Francois Legault refuses to attend.

According to CPQ leader Éric Duhaime, Quebec's English-speaking community deserves to have its own debate to address the issues that are important to it, including health, education and language issues.

The English-language media consortium decided on Friday to cancel its debate scheduled for Sept. 20 because of the withdrawal of Legault and Parti Québécois (PQ) leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

The consortium said that without the presence of all the major parties, it would be impossible to present a "fair and informative" debate.

But according to Duhaime, it is not up to the English-speaking population to pay for the choice of certain parties. He believes that the parties who wish to do so should have the opportunity to debate in English.

At least one English-language media outlet told the Conservative leader that it would be willing to hold an English-language debate without the CAQ leader, but that at least the leader of the Liberal Party would have to participate.

If Anglade agrees to participate, the organizers would be prepared to make further invitations to all parties, including the PQ and the CAQ, if they wish to reconsider their initial decision.

On Friday, Legault's press secretary said that preparing for debates takes a lot of time, and that the premier had already committed to cross swords with the other leaders on TVA and Radio-Canada in French.

Duhaime disagreed with this argument, saying that after preparing for two debates, the additional time required to prepare for the English debate would not be so substantial.

Instead, he accused the premier of wanting to limit the debates in the run-up to an election in which he is heavily favoured. Duhaime added that Legault participated in an English-language debate during the 2018 election campaign.

According to the PCQ leader, the opposition parties could even benefit from the absence of Legault, since they would have more visibility, which they have had difficulty obtaining in recent years because of the pandemic.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 14, 2022