Third Conservative leadership debate suffers without Poilievre or Lewis present

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The Conservative Party’s leadership debate on Wednesday suffered from low attendance and low interest, as frontrunner Pierre Poilievre opted to sit out from the event.

Also not present was the social conservative MP for Haldimand—Norfolk, Leslyn Lewis, leaving perceived runner-up Jean Charest, former Ontario PC MPP Roman Baber, and MP Scott Aitchison to duke it out on stage. According to the Canadian Press, the event drew just 300 sets of eyeballs on its live Facebook feed at its peak, with just 100 people tuning in by the end.

“The party’s feed on YouTube indicated more than 18,000 views on Thursday morning, but it is unclear who tuned in to listen during the debate as it was happening,” they report.

Poilievre, meanwhile, was at an event in Regina, Saskatchewan, where he told the crowd that there was “no place” that he would rather be. Lewis, meanwhile, was meeting with supporters in Cornwall, PEI.

Charest, of course, used this as an opportunity to attack Poilievre for ditching the event. The Charest camp even went so far as to buy the domain wherespierre.ca, showing a crudely made video of an empty podium with Poilievre’s name on it.

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