If you thought that Stephen Harper's move Wednesday to challenge Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to debate mano-a-mano was an odd play by the Conservatives, it will soon make a little more sense. After the news that the shadowy "broadcast consortium" has ruled-out a head to head bout which I mentioned earlier, now the truth seems to be coming out: it was all a Conservative fake, and Harper is too chicken to really take on Ignatieff solo.
Liberals wanted SH-MI debate in addition to 4-leader. Conservatives proposed replacing 4-leader with 2-leader debate. Libs declined.
Tory campaign insiders say Harper won't take up Ignatieff challenge of separate one on one TV debate. #elxn41 #cdnpoli
“I look forward to debating the federal party leaders on April 12 and 14. I am disappointed, however, by the broadcasters’ consortium’s decision to exclude Green Party Leader Elizabeth May from the debate. The Liberal Party of Canada advocated for her inclusion in negotiations with the consortium.
“Now that the broadcasters’ consortium has chosen their dates for the multi-party debate, I reiterate my challenge to Mr. Harper: I am ready and willing to debate him one-on-one – any time, any place.
“Mr. Harper expressed his desire to debate me as the leader of the only party that can replace him in government. All that remains is to agree upon a time and place – and many respected potential hosts have offered to assist.
“A one-on-one debate with Mr. Harper should not replace multi-party leaders’ debates. A real debate is needed, however, on the different visions of leadership between the only two people with a real opportunity to become prime minister of this country at the end of this election.”