The latest on the first official Conservative leadership debate in Edmonton


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OTTAWA — Conservative leadership hopefuls are squaring off in the first official debate of the race. Here are the latest developments. All times eastern:

9:30 p.m.

Pierre Poilievre says if elected as prime minister, he would fire and replace Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem.

Poilievre was asked during the Conservative leadership debate how long it would take him to reduce interest rates.

He says it would depend how high inflation is when he comes to power, but added those responsible for high inflation should be held accountable.

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He says Macklem has allowed himself to be used as an ATM for the government, which has driven higher prices.

If elected, he says he would instate a new governor with a low-inflation mandate, who would protect the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar.

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9:10 p.m.

Conservative leadership candidates are taking aim at Pierre Poilievre for his stance on Bitcoin at tonight’s debate.

Jean Charest and Leslyn Lewis accused Poilievre of encouraging Canadians to invest in the digital currency.

Patrick Brown says “magic internet money” like Bitcoin fluctuates wildly and Poilievre shouldn’t be encouraging Canada’s vulnerable investors to gamble their savings.

Poilievre says he did not encourage people to invest in Bitcoin, but does not want to see it banned because investors deserve the right to choose how to spend their money.

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Roman Baber says he can’t believe career politicians are offering investment advice on stage.

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9 p.m.

Conservative leadership candidates Roman Baber and Leslyn Lewis say the greatest threat to Canada is the erosion of the nation’s democracy.

Lewis cited the invocation of the Emergencies Act in response to prolonged protests in the capital and blockades at Canada’s borders in protest of COVID-19 restrictions.

Baber pointed to the Liberal bill to regulate hate speech on the internet, calling it a law to censor speech.

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8:40 p.m.

Questions about abortion have the crowd at the first official Conservative party leadership debate up in arms in Edmonton.

Jean Charest took aim at Pierre Poilievre for refusing to disclose his position on abortion, earning him boos from Poilievre’s supporters in the crowd.

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Poilievre says, if elected, his government would not introduce or pass any abortion legislation.

Charest says the same, but also revealed he is pro-choice.

The moderator docked Poilievre 10 seconds because of his supporters’ outburst.

Poilievre could be heard off-microphone calling the penalty “nonsense.”

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8:30 p.m.

Each Conservative leadership candidate kicked off the first official party leadership debate tonight by sharing their vision for Canada.

Every candidate mentioned the divided state of the country as part of their answers.

Most also directly referenced COVID-19 vaccine mandates as one of the key reasons for that division, with the exception of former Quebec premier Jean Charest.

Charest pointed to divisions over oil and gas between the eastern and western parts of the country.

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8 p.m.

The first official party Conservative leadership debate is underway.

The candidates Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber, Patrick Brown, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis, and Pierre Poilievre walked single file onto the stage at the Edmonton Convention Centre in Alberta.

Rick Ekstein, one of the Conservative party leadership debate co-chairs, kicked off the event by saying more than 1,000 are attending the event.

Debate organizers say they heard people want the debate to be heavy on policy.

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7:20 p.m.

Longtime MP Pierre Poilievre is a popular pick for many party members awaiting the start of the first official Conservative leadership debate.

There are supporters carrying signs, and many say they like his charisma and vocal support of pipelines.

The debate is set to begin at 8 p.m.

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7 p.m.

Dozens of Conservatives are lining up to take their seats for the first official party debate of the leadership race at the Edmonton Convention Centre in Alberta.

Tonight’s debate will be the first time all six candidates share a stage.

Five of the six candidates participated in a raucous debate in Ottawa last week that saw them take harsh aim at one another.

This time, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown will join his fellow candidates on the debate stage.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2022.

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