A federal leaders debate focusing on women’s rights was cancelled after NDP leader Thomas Mulcair pulled out. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not planning on attending, leaving too few leaders for the “Up For Debate” event to continue on.
Mulcair has said previously that he was not going to attend any debate that Prime Minister Harper was not participating in.
“We believe that all leaders should be participating in a debate on women’s rights and gender equality issues,” Jackie Hansen, Up For Debate spokesperson and Amnesty International women’s rights campaigner, told Vancity Buzz.
“We are more than half of the electorate, there are issues that impact women and men and people of different genders and we need to be having those discussions, so it’s very disappointing to us that both the Conservatives and the NDP are not up for debating these issues in a nationally broadcasted debate.”
Hansen said the organization is currently searching for alternatives to get the discussion rolling on women’s rights issues among the party leaders, including creating one-on-one videos that they plan to screen at a Toronto event in September. So far they have confirmed four out of five of the leaders for what they call an “alternative debate format.”
— Up for Debate (@UpforDebate2015) August 25, 2015
Still, the cancellation of this debate is a huge blow to the conversation on gender equality, said Hansen.
“As you can imagine, it takes a lot of time and effort to organize a debate and we really needed the critical mass there to make sure we can have the important discussions that needed to be had with all the people around the table.”
She added that there shouldn’t be a need for standalone debates on women’s issues, as it should be included in general debates more frequently.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Green Party leader Elizabeth May had a bit of a Twitter discussion over the matter, suggesting they would be open to doing a televised discussion on women’s rights.
— Stephen Lautens (@stephenlautens) August 24, 2015
— Elizabeth May (@ElizabethMay) August 24, 2015
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 24, 2015