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Canada’s only English-language debate with all parties present took place tonight, and it did not disappoint.
Off the bat, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer got Trudeau with a remark about Trudeau’s infamous blackface incident.
“Justin Trudeau only pretends to stand up for Canada. He’s very good at pretending things. He can’t even remember how many times he put blackface on. Because the fact of the matter is, he’s always wearing a mask.”
Scheer’s comment alludes to the fact that, after the first photo had been released of Trudeau at an Arabian Nights themed party, he admitted to one other incident of wearing makeup, while singing Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song. This fell apart when the next morning, a third incident appeared, again appearing in full black face.
Sparks flew shortly after when Green Party Leader Elizabeth May butted heads with People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier, who lambasted May’s policies, comparing them to the failed socialist state of Venezuela.
“I appreciate you, but I don’t share your socialist policies. We won’t be able to create any wealth with your policies. You have the same sort of policies as socialist countries like Venezuela. You won’t create any wealth. You have to admit that.”
Much discussion was given to Quebec’s controversial religious symbols law Bill 21. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was challenged by the moderator and other federal leaders over his refusal to intervene in the province’s decision.
In response, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet stood by his province’s law citing provincial sovereignty.
As the night went on, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh again made his position clear regarding his thoughts on Maxime Bernier. Only two weeks ago, Singh publicly announced that he believed Bernier and his party had no place on the debate stage, stating that he should not be invited to the event.
Singh did not shy away from that motion tonight. Rather, he told Bernier directly, telling him that he “incites hatred,” that he does not deserve a platform, and that his ideas were harmful to Canada.
It was at this point that Bernier counter-punched at Singh, questioning his commitment to freedom of speech.
“You’re for diversity. But what about diversity of opinion?” asked Bernier. “I have the right to have another opinion about immigration, and I don’t know why—you’re a leader, yet you must try to have everybody on your side. But are you believing in free speech only when people are saying things that you want to hear?”
Near the end of the debate, Andrew Scheer went after Justin Trudeau for his constant attacks on Conservative Premiers including Doug Ford and Jason Kenney suggesting that he should consider running for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party instead of the prime minister’s job.
“There is a vacancy for the Ontario Liberal leadership, and if you’re so focused on provincial politics, go and run for the leadership of that party,” said Scheer to applause.
Overall, the discussion was fairly civilized, with each leader having their moment in the spotlight. The six will meet again in just three days time for the French language debate on October 10.