Conservative leadership candidates readying for French-language debate – National |

Candidates running for leadership of the federal Conservative party will appear on stage Wednesday night for its French-language debate.

The event is taking place in Laval, Que., north of Montreal, and comes as a deadline approaches for candidates to have their supporters signed up as party members in order to be eligible to vote in the contest.

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Former Quebec premier Jean Charest and longtime Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre are expected to dominate much of the debate as both can speak French fluently and have charted a path to victory through the province.

Patrick Brown can also speak French and has spent the race campaigning against a controversial secularism law in Quebec that prohibits some public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols on the job, which he says is an affront to religious freedom.

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Party members will also be watching if Leslyn Lewis has improved on her French after she mostly stuck to a prepared script during the 2020 French-language leadership debate.

Click to play video: 'Highlights from the Federal Conservative Leadership debate'

Highlights from the Federal Conservative Leadership debate

Highlights from the Federal Conservative Leadership debate – May 12, 2022

Candidates will take the stage after a language reform bill passed Quebec’s legislature that critics say goes too far in protecting the French language by potentially denying the province’s anglophones the ability to access services like health-care in English.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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