English-language debate ahead of Quebec vote cancelled after premier pulls out

MONTREAL – An English-language leaders debate that was scheduled to take place ahead of Quebec’s October election has been cancelled after Premier Francois Legault refused to participate.

Parti Quebecois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon also said Friday that he wouldn’t participate in the Sept. 20 debate because Quebec’s common language is French.

“Without the participation of all the main party leaders, the English-language media consortium representatives agree it would not be a fair and informative exercise. As a result there will be no English-language party leaders debate in this election campaign,” the consortium of broadcasters organizing the debate said in a statement.

The other three parties in the legislature, however, had said their leaders would participate.

A spokesman for Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade said earlier in the day that she was planning to attend to the English debate regardless of who else refused to show up.

Quebec Conservative Party Leader Eric Duhaime said he too would debate in English, and Quebec solidaire spokeswoman Sandrine Bourque said the party’s candidate for premier, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, planned to be there even if the CAQ and the PQ wouldn’t be.

Legault spokesman Ewan Sauves said in an email that the premier would take part in two televised French-language debates and that preparing for each debate takes a significant amount of time. He said the premier also refused an invitation for a third French-language debate.

The leaders of Quebec’s four largest parties, including Legault, participated in an English-language debate ahead of the last provincial election in 2018. It was the first English-language leaders debate in the province’s history.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2022.

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