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National alliance cancels leaders’ debate on women’s rights, gender equality

    October 17, 2019

    UP FOR DEBATE 2019

    October 17, 2019

    OTTAWA – A broad alliance of women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations has officially called off plans to host a national leaders’ debate on women’s rights and gender equality, citing a lack of commitment from most federal party leaders.

    In March, the alliance wrote to all party leaders, inviting them to participate in a national televised debate on women’s rights and gender equality – the first debate of its kind since 1984.

    Months later, and only days away from Election Day, the only two leaders committed to debating women’s rights and gender equality issues are the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh and the Green Party’s Elizabeth May. While the Bloc Quebecois expressed interest, Up for Debate could not secure a firm commitment from the party’s leader, Yves-François Blanchet. The alliance did not receive an RSVP from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer or Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

    “It is with great regret that the Up for Debate campaign is cancelling our plans to hold a nationally televised leaders’ debate on women’s rights and gender equality issues,” said Jacqueline Hansen, Gender Rights Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada. “It’s especially disheartening because not all the leaders have outlined their commitments to address the rights of women, transgender, non-binary, and two-spirit people.”

    With less than a week until Election Day, Up for Debate is now calling on all federal party leaders to clearly articulate their plans to address women’s rights and gender equality. Specifically, the campaign is asking each leader to outline their plans to end gender inequality; provide more affordable housing and child care options; protect and promote sexual and reproductive rights; and end violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

    “These are the issues directly impacting more than half Canada’s population. And these issues were simply not up for debate in this election campaign,” said Sarah Kennell, Director of Government Relations at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. “We may have cancelled a standalone debate, but we’re expecting the federal leaders to outline their plans to address women’s rights and gender equality issues in the last few days of the election campaign. They owe it to more than half of the voting population.”

    Up for Debate 2019 is a campaign coordinated by an alliance of women’s rights and gender equality advocates from across Canada.

    For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, 613-744-7667 ext 236,