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Conservative leadership race: 14 candidates pitch their policies in Moncton, N.B.

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.

CBC News continues to live stream the post-debate scrums as each candidate meets reporters.

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.

The first debate organized by the party last month in Saskatoon was held only in English.

The party is hosting a total of five debates during the leadership race, with the next, a French debate, set for Quebec City on Jan.17.

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.

Other contenders could enter the race before late February.

Anyone interested in voting must purchase a party membership before March 28.

The 14 now in the race are:

  • Chris Alexander.
  • Maxime Bernier.
  • Steven Blaney.
  • Michael Chong.
  • Kellie Leitch.
  • Pierre Lemieux.
  • Dan Lindsay.
  • Deepak Obhrai.
  • Erin O’Toole.
  • Rick Peterson.
  • Lisa Raitt.
  • Andrew Saxton.
  • Andrew Scheer.
  • Brad Trost.

Conservatives will pick their next leader next May 27, using a ranked ballot system.

Follow @cath_cullen on Twitter for photos and on-the-ground insight on Tuesday evening’s debate.

CBC | Politics News