January 21, 2020

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Munk Debates cancels foreign-policy event because Trudeau won't attend

TORONTO - Organizers of a foreign-policy election debate that was scheduled for next Tuesday have cancelled the event because Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau won't participate.

Rudyard Griffiths, chair of the Munk Debates, said no one had a bigger impact on Canada's foreign policy over the last four years than Trudeau.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau makes a healthcare announcement while campaigning Monday, September 23, 2019 in Hamilton, Ontario. Organizers of a foreign-policy election debate that was scheduled for next Tuesday have cancelled the event because Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau won't participate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau makes a healthcare announcement while campaigning Monday, September 23, 2019 in Hamilton, Ontario. Organizers of a foreign-policy election debate that was scheduled for next Tuesday have cancelled the event because Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau won't participate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

"Regrettably, the prime minister's refusal to attend our debate has denied Canadians the only real opportunity they had this election to see his foreign policy record challenged in a substantive and sustained fashion," Griffiths wrote in a statement.

The other three major party leaders had confirmed they would attend.

Trudeau also declined to participate in a debate earlier this month hosted by Maclean's and Citytv, though he will take part in the official French and English election debates and another organized by Quebec's TVA network.

Liberal spokeswoman Zita Astravas said in a statement that the official debates organized by the Leaders' Debates Commission will be widely distributed on TV, radio and digital platforms to reach the largest possible audience.

"We have also confirmed the Liberal leader's participation in the TVA debate, as the only major Canadian network not included in the commission," she wrote. "We hope and encourage TVA to consider participating in the commission's debates in the next election."

The Conservatives slammed Trudeau's refusal to participate in the foreign policy debate, saying he is "running from his record of disastrous foreign policy decisions."

"But perhaps the biggest hit to Canada's international reputation came last week when Justin Trudeau made headlines all over the world for wearing blackface on multiple occasions," the party said in a statement.

"Justin Trudeau cannot be trusted to represent Canada with dignity and poise on the international stage. He is not as advertised."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2019.

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