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3 out of 5 candidates to take part in final Conservative leadership debate tonight

Three of the five candidates vying to become the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada will take part in the race’s final debate Wednesday evening in Ottawa.

The bilingual event, with the first half taking part in English, will begin at 6 p.m. ET.

You can watch the debate live on this page when it begins.

Three candidates are slated to field questions in a roundtable format over approximately an hour and a half: Jean Charest, the former Quebec premier and one-time leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives; Conservative MP Scott Aitchison; and former Ontario MPP Roman Baber.

The debate, which will take place without a studio audience, comes just over one month from when the party will select its third permanent leader in five years on Sept. 10. 

Poilievre, Lewis sitting debate out

MPs Pierre Poilievre and Leslyn Lewis are scheduled to host meet-and-greets with supporters at the same time as Wednesday’s debate in Regina, Sask., and Cornwall, P.E.I., respectively. 

Poilievre’s team previously signaled he would not take part in the debate because they felt the first debate back in May was “an embarrassment” and he wants instead to shore up voter support.

Lewis said she had received no information about the debate format and that she had told the party she would not be available on the date set for the event. 

Under party rules, candidates must attend official party debates or face a $50,000 fine.

The party’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee said it decided to hold a third debate after finding that a majority of surveyed members supported the move. 

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