The final debate of the federal Liberal leadership race was a mostly sedate affair that only saw some sparks fly toward the end over the issue of strategic voting.
Perceived frontrunner Justin Trudeau initiated a heated exchange with Vancouver MP Joyce Murray over cooperation with the other opposition parties to end vote splitting in some ridings.
So what cooperation is, it is one time running our candidates against each other in the progressive parties so only one progressive candidate is on the ballot, it’s transparent, it’s democratic,” Murray said.
“And it leads to Thomas Mulcair as prime minister of this country and that’s not what I’m interested in,” Trudeau shot back.
“I’m very worried that if we assemble a hodge podge coalition or coming together or cooperation that actually removes choices from Canadians by forcing them to make an either or choice they will not believe we’re ready to govern,” he added.
Murray countered that Canadians want a style of electoral system where their politicians are working together and cooperation is a way of achieving that.
The vote-splitting debate was sparked by Saturday’s announcement by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May that her team won’t field a candidate in the upcoming byelection in Newfoundland that was created by the resignation of Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue.
Penashue quit this month after Elections Canada found his election campaign had accepted 28 different ineligible donations, but he has indicated he’ll run in the byelection.
Murray was taking credit for the decision, issuing a news release Saturday saying she called May and asked her not to run a candidate in the Labrador byelection.
The six leadership hopefuls also covered topics ranging from the environment to getting youth involved in politics.
The other contenders in the race are former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon, former Toronto-area MP Martha Hall-Findlay, Toronto lawyer Deborah Coyne and retired military officer Karen McCrimmon.
The party will choose a new leader on April 14th.