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OTTAWA (LifeSiteNews) – The sole pro-life verified candidate of six vying for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) will do her best to fend off her mostly pro-abortion opponents this evening as candidates take the stage in their first, albeit unofficial, debate in Ottawa.

While there are six verified CPC leadership candidates, only five are listed as confirmed to be taking part in the debate, and only one, CPC MP Dr. Leslyn Lewis, is solidly pro-life.

Confirmed to be in attendance for the debate in addition to Lewis are CPC MPs Pierre Poilievre and Scott Aitchison, along with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, and independent Ontario MPP Roman Baber. Missing is Brampton, Ontario Mayor Patrick Brown.

The debate rather refreshingly will not be moderated by a member of the mainstream media, but instead will be facilitated by Candice Malcolm, founder and editor-in-chief of True North, a conservative independent media outlet.

It will be held at the Shaw Conference Centre in Ottawa from 5:30 to 7 p.m. EST. Those in the Ottawa area interested in attending in person can purchase debate-only tickets for $55.37.

The leaders’ debate will be the first time CPC leadership candidates will take the stage to both express their views and take questions from moderators. No doubt the candidates will also spar with one another back and forth.

Malcolm will be joined by radio host, author and lawyer Jamil Jivani.

The debate will also serve as the kickoff for the annual Canada Strong and Free Network, which is taking place from May 5 to 7 at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Social issues could be front and center in the debate

Lewis is the only official pro-life candidate to make the final ballot after two other pro-life candidates, Joseph Bourgault and Grant Abraham, were denied entry onto the ballot by the party despite raising enough funds.

The CPC’s Leadership Election Organizing (LEOC) did not say why the two pro-life candidates were disqualified, but only that they did not meet the correct entry rules.

Lewis on Monday voiced concern that some candidates were disqualified from running in the leadership race.

“We want a fair race. I’m not afraid of a hard fight, and the Conservative party is not one that should be cancelling legitimate contestants. @CPC_HQshould let them run,” Lewis tweeted Monday.

Lewis has a “green light” rating from Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) as a fully supportable pro-life candidate.

Last week, Lewis released two major platform updates, the first confirming her pro-life policies and the second reaffirming her opposition to COVID vaccine mandates.

As a result of Lewis being the only openly pro-life candidate on the ballot, combined with the fact the debate will be moderated by independent media, no doubt important questions surrounding social issues will be asked of the candidates.

Baber, who is currently an independent Ontario MPP, said he does not “believe gov’t has a role in how people start or grow their families.”

“But I’ll respect the right of every Canadian to seek nomination, introduce legislation & vote freely on matters of conscience, regardless of their view on life. @CPC_HQ must welcome diversity of opinion.”

On Tuesday, Aitchison released a video on Twitter stating clearly his support for abortion.

Charest, who is also a leadership candidate, reaffirmed recently on Twitter that he is “pro-choice.”

CLC gives Poilievre a “red light” rating for his spotty voting track record regarding life issues.

The CPC will hold its official English language debate on May 11 in Edmonton, Alberta, and its French language debate on May 25 in Montreal.

Of note is that the Independent Press Gallery of Canada will be hosting its own CPC leadership debate on May 30 in Toronto. It is not yet confirmed which candidates will attend.

The debate will be moderated by independent media True North senior journalist Andrew Lawton.

An independent Canadian journalist panel featuring the Western Standard’s Derek Fildebrandt, Rebel News’ Sheila Gunn Reid, and Rupa Subramanya will be posing questions to the CPC candidates.

The CPC will announce its new leader on September 10.

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