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Three of five candidates for the leadership of the federal Conservatives will be participating on Wednesday night in the final official debate before the winner is announced Sept. 10.

Ontario MP Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber – a former member of the Ontario legislature – and former Quebec premier Jean Charest will be in a studio in Ottawa for the 90-minute debate that begins at 6 p.m. ET. There will be no audience in the studio for the proceedings.

However, Ontario MPs Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre are skipping the event.

They have cited concerns about its format, questions, the necessity of this third debate and an interest in engaging with party members. Both face $50,000 fines levied by the party for skipping the debate.

Asked, on Wednesday, about the debate, Pierre Poilievre’s campaign said their previous comments on the debate stand. Jenni Byrne, a senior adviser to Mr. Poilievre, tweeted a statement on the issue available here. Ms. Lewis tweeted her concerns here.

Wednesday’s debate follows debates in Edmonton and Laval, Quebec.

The communications director for Mr. Charest’s campaign noted in a statement that party members supported the third debate. The party canvassed the membership and received a positive vote.

“[Mr. Charest’s] primary goal is to speak to the issues that members care about and show them the respect they deserve,” said Michelle Coates Mather.

Please check here for coverage of the debate.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you're reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY'S HEADLINES

CARE OK DESPITE CRISIS: FORD - Ontario Premier Doug Ford broke his silence Wednesday on the health care crisis engulfing the province, suggesting most patients continue to receive adequate care despite emergency room and ICU closures and record waits. Story here.

OTTAWA CRASHES GARNER ATTENTION - No injuries have been reported after an amphibious tour bus crashed Wednesday into the gates at 24 Sussex Dr., the prime minister’s unoccupied official residence. Story here. Meanwhile, Ottawa police say one person is in custody after a vehicle hit the front gates of Parliament Hill early Wednesday morning. Story here from CTV.

MILLER APOLOGY TO FIRST NATION - Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller delivered an apology on behalf of the federal government to a Saskatchewan First Nation for an “experiment in radical social engineering” that forced a farming colony on the community’s land. Story here.

SURVIVORS PAIN `LIKE SLAPS’: POPE - Pope Francis said on Wednesday he felt the pain of survivors of Canada’s residential school system “like slaps” and that the Catholic Church has to face up to its responsibility for institutions that abused children and tried to erase Indigenous cultures. Story here.

INDO-PACIFIC STRATEGY MUST RECOGNIZE CHINA SECURITY THREAT: EXPERTS - The federal government’s forthcoming Indo-Pacific strategy must explicitly recognize and respond to the security threat China poses to the region, experts say, otherwise Canada risks being regarded as irrelevant in a part of the world that is expected to be a centre of economic growth for decades. Story here.

BC HOUSING CEO QUITS - The man who has led B.C.’s housing agency for 22 years is resigning, saying several recent incidents of violence against homeless people, plus the increasingly threatening environment for policy-makers have left him questioning whether he can continue to offer solutions. Story here.

HAJDU SEEKS SUPPORT FOR FEDERAL TB PLAN - Federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu is urging the government of Nunavut and the territory’s top Inuit organization to sign a long-delayed plan for combatting tuberculosis as soon as possible, a step that could lead to more federal money being earmarked to fight the infectious disease, which continues to plague Inuit communities. Story here.

CLASSIFIED AD SECURES DOCTOR - Victoria-area senior will likely have a family physician soon, but only after his desperate wife bought a newspaper classified ad to beg for help. Story here.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

CAMPAIGN TRAIL - Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber and Jean Charest are in Ottawa for the final official debate of the Conservative leadership race. Leslyn Lewis is in Cornwall, Prince Edward Island. Pierre Poilievre is in Regina.

POILIEVRE WINS FUNDRAISING RACE - Pierre Poilievre has won the fundraising race among candidates seeking the leadership of the federal Conservatives, raising more money in the second quarter of the year than his rivals combined. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

FREELAND IN SAINT JOHN - Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, in Saint John, New Brunswick, visits Port Saint John to meet with workers and discuss supply chains.

MILLER IN PEEPEEKISIS - Crown-Indigenous Minister Marc Miller, in Peepeekisis Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, delivered a national apology to the Peepeekisis Cree Nation.

JACZEK IN TORONTO - Helena Jaczek, the minister for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario , in Toronto, announced more than $12.3-million to support the return of Tennis Canada’s National Bank Open tournament and the Boots and Hearts Music Festival (Boots and Hearts), operated by Republic Live.

SAJJAN IN VANCOUVER - International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan, in Vancouver, announces funding to support organizations in B.C.’s aerospace sector. He also makes remarks at the 2022 Aerospace, Defence and Security Expo. Mr. Sajjan is also minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada.

MENDICINO IN SAULT STE. MARIE - Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., hosted a news conference to demonstrate some of the ways the Canada Border Services Agency prevents smuggling of firearms into Canada.

THE DECIBEL

As new GDP numbers in the U.S. set off worries about whether we’re heading for a recession – even if Canada’s numbers aren’t that bad – Globe journalist David Parkinson explains how recessions are defined, which economic indicators we should be watching and just how worried people should be. Mr. Parkinson has been covering business and financial markets for more than three decades. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was scheduled to virtually attend a meeting of the Northern Territories Federation of Labour and participate virtually in the Mississauga-Lakeshore NDP nomination meeting

TRIBUTE

RUBY HAS DIED - Renowned Canadian civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby has died, his law firm confirmed Wednesday. Story here,

OPINION

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on Canada being `there for’ Ukraine except in all the ways that count: Clearly, there is something broken at Global Affairs. This is the department, after all, that sent a high-ranking official to a party at the Russian embassy in Ottawa, even as Vladimir Putin’s army was laying waste to Ukraine. Will anything be done about this latest moral disgrace? Will anyone be held to account? Will we even find out how it happened? On past evidence, no. Perhaps a committee will attempt to look into it. But it will discover, as previous committees have, that it lacks the power. Documents will be withheld, witnesses will fail to appear on one spurious ground or another: cabinet confidence, national security, take your pick. Eventually it will peter out. And that will be that.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Danielle Smith’s bizarre, dangerous campaign to become Alberta premier: Ms. Smith’s UCP campaign is akin to Pierre Poilievre’s unconventional, often irresponsible drive for the federal Conservative leadership – but on steroids. Even before Ms. Smith’s strange pontifications on lifestyle decisions and cancer (one might wonder how she would explain pediatric cancer), she had gained notoriety earlier in the pandemic for saying that “hydroxychloroquine cures 100 per cent of coronavirus patients within six days of treatment.” As a radio-show host at the time, she was forced to apologize for the egregious mistruth. She would later advocate for the use of ivermectin as a COVID treatment drug, even though it, too, would eventually be discredited.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on the so-what of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spending two weeks in Costa Rica: It’s a cheap and easy way to land a political punch, though, and partisans usually jump on it when given the opportunity (only to forget their outrage when it’s their guy sipping mai tais on a beach or flying out to New York for a long weekend to catch a Yankees game). But it’s a silly habit we should all endeavour to break: politicians are people, and we cannot expect people to function at optimal levels if they are denied opportunities to spend leisure time with their families. What’s more, if we want decent, smart and thoughtful people to consider lending themselves to public office, the job can’t be inordinately thankless (to the extent that that isn’t already the case). After all, why would someone who ostensibly could earn much more in the private sector choose to run for public office with all its stresses, knowing also that their every move will be scrutinized, every expense pored over, all sorts of details of their private life often exposed – and on top of it all, lambasted for taking the occasional vacation?”

Cory Hann (The National Post) on how the Conservative leadership debates are a bore — here’s how to fix them: Official Conservative party debates have to be ruthlessly fair to each candidate no matter how hopeless their campaign may be. The second the party’s neutrality is credibly questioned, the whole leadership election can be thrown into complete chaos. It’s a major risk, and when in a leadership election, the party’s risk tolerance suddenly becomes zero. That makes putting on an entertaining and/or informative debate impossible. How do you question a candidate’s policy without risking sounding biased to the ears of their supporters? How do you entertain a membership when you have to give perfectly equal time to the last place candidate with the charisma of a paper bag and the same hope of winning as one? That’s why you end up with a complicated debate formats, and mixing Netflix recommendations with questions about balancing the budget.”

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