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Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada was not included on the list of participating groups on Saturday as Commissioner David Johnston unveiled new criteria for the upcoming English and French-Language federal election debates.
In a statement released on Saturday Johnston said that the Liberals, Conservatives, Green Party, NDP Party and Bloc Québécois have been invited to participate in the debates, scheduled to go ahead Sept. 8 and 9. However, the People’s Party and the Maverick Party — formerly known as the ‘Wexit’ Party — have been left out.
In order to participate, Johnston said each party either had to be represented in the House of Commons by an elected Member of Parliament, had to win at least four per cent of the national vote during the last federal election or garner four per cent of the national vote within five days after the federal election date is set, which can be measured through public opinion polling.
Read more: Canada election: Leaders debates set for Sept. 8, 9
According to the polls, the People’s Party had only garnered an average of 3.27 per cent while the Maverick Party had secured 0.7 per cent.
The Commission used nine polls to determine which parties were eligible to participate, including:
“Internal party polling or polls commissioned by a political party” were not considered, the Commission said.
The PPC party said in a release that Bernier was “disappointed, but not surprised” to see he was excluded from the national leaders’ debate.
“I do not blame the Commission, whose criteria were clear and objective,” Bernier said.
“Rather, I blame the political establishment cartel, which refuses to debate the crucial issues we raise and has done everything to marginalize us since the founding of the PPC.”
The PPC leader vowed that his exclusion from the debates “will not stop this wave.”
“Debate or no debate, you will keep hearing from us!” he added.
Read more: Maxime Bernier visits southern Alberta during tour for People’s Party of Canada
Bernier’s party received less than two per cent of the vote in 2019, when the party participated in an election for the first time.
Asked on Saturday whether Bernier should be allowed to participate in the language debates, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said “no.”
“He’s someone that (has) opposed science, that puts out very dangerous and divisive rhetoric and is someone that is putting out messages that are discouraging the public health response to this pandemic,” Singh told reporters while campaigning in Toronto.
“It would be the wrong thing to do, very much the wrong thing to do to give him a platform to promote very divisive and hurtful, frankly, messaging that is counter to science, counter to people’s health.”
The Liberal Party said it respects the “independence” of the commission, in an emailed statement to Global News.
“We believe that those seeking to lead the country should believe in and adhere to strong public health measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and not traffic in fear-mongering and conspiracy theories,” the statement read.
Global News sent out a request to the Conservatives and Greens for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
— With files from Global News’ Eloise Therien
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