However, there is a narrative that has taken hold that it is Tom Mulcair's fault that the debate didn't happen, because he refused to participate without Harper present. I'm not sure why everyone is giving Harper a pass here, since it is his failure to attend that is actually stopping the debate, but I suspect it has to do with political strategy. The Liberals and the Greens see political gain from attacking Mulcair, thinking they can paint him as being weak on support for women. That's a shame - and not only because it's false.
The fact is, we aren't here to debate women's issues - we already accept that those issues are paramount to Canada's future. We're here to debate Stephen Harper's abdication of leadership on those issues. And without Stephen Harper, there is no debate.
Harper would like nothing more than for his opponents to tear each other down for
two hours straight on national television. Tom Mulcair is smart enough to know a trap when he sees one, and he's avoided it by working with the organizers to select a better format for putting women's issues at the forefront of the campaign without playing into Harper's hands.
To our Green and Liberal friends - it's unfortunate that you fell into this trap. You saw the opportunity to score political points and you chose to go after Tom Mulcair instead of Stephen Harper. That's a shame. We had hoped for better on an issue of such importance.
And women's issues are essential to Canada's future. That's why the NDP has consistently taken leadership on the matter. That's why the NDP has attracted a record number of women candidates - in fact, 43% of our candidates are women (as contrasted with less than a third for the Liberals). That's also why we've made a commitment to childcare a signature part of our platform, with specific reference to the impact on women - many of whom bear a disproportionate share of childcare responsibility. We've also pledged to hold a public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women within the first 100 days of forming government. Women's issues are Canadian issues, and we've led the way in making those issues a priority for Canada and for the government.
That's the NDP.