Debate recap: Who said what & what supporters thought of the first Conservative leadership debate

Things got a little heated during the first unofficial Conservative Party of Canada debates as candidates vie for leadership of the party.

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On Thursday, May 5 the prospective conservative leadership hopefuls vied in debate. The event was hosted by the Canada Strong and Free Network. It included five out of the six leadership contenders — Roman Baber, Leslyn Lewis, Pierre Pollievre, Jean Charest and Scott Aitchison. Patrick Brown referred to the debate as “eye rolling political theatre” and sat this one out.

Many candidates chose to focus on increasing calls for unity and respect. The most robust debate took place between Poilievre and Charest with references to Charest’s connection to Huawei. In typical Poilievre fashion, he repeated “how much” after Charest danced answering the line of questioning about financial earnings from Huawei.

The crowd booed Charest on his reference to the “illegal blockade” i.e. the Freedom Convoy that protested COVID restrictions, after two years of being otherwise ignored, in Ottawa earlier this year.

In the media scrum, I asked contender Roman Baber about the Pfizer documents that come out each month and reference Health Canada’s role in rubber stamping the COVID injections. I asked how he would restore Canadians' faith in institutions who do not stay up to date on science as it evolves and continue with emergency use authorization despite glaring data misrepresentations by the manufacturer.

Baber responded that the regulator should be reviewed and not be funded by industry. If elected leader, and subsequently Canada’s prime minister, Baber commits to conducting “a full audit on everything that transpired in the last two years.”

In a quick follow up, I ask Baber how he would approach the intention of the federal government to require COVID-19 vaccines in all federally regulated workplaces under the Canada Labour Code. Referencing his Jobs And Jabs act, he would repeal any such requirement.

After the debate and media scrum finished, I caught up with the those mingling on the upper floor to gauge feedback on how the debates went. Overall, the attendees were glad to see some back and forth but looked forward to hearing more rigorous debate and less niceties.

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