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The second official debate in the Conservative Party’s leadership race brought more laughs than sparring to Moncton, N.B., Tuesday evening, as the fourteen candidates now in the race found far more to agree on than debate.
Billed as the first bilingual debate among the five the party is organizing, the mostly good-natured forum saw anglophone candidates trying out sometimes halting French in an effort to broaden their appeal.
The debate returned again and again to the issue of job creation in Atlantic Canada, with candidates offering similar economic development and tax cutting policies and saving their main attacks for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.
Organizers were expecting about 300 people to attend the event at the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Moncton. The crowd applauded briefly only occasionally, mostly listening silently as candidates took turns responding briefly to a series of eight questions, four of which were drawn from party members in attendance, moderator Monica Barley said.
Tuesday’s debate was the first opportunity to see how the two latest entrants to the race — former MP Pierre Lemieux from eastern Ontario and Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson — stack up against the 12 other contenders who first debated last month.
The 14 now in the race are:
Follow @cath_cullen on Twitter for photos and on-the-ground insight on Tuesday evening’s debate.