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The Conservatives Were Represented By An Empty Chair At An LGBT Debate

Toronto just hosted this election's first LGBT-centred debate.

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The participants came from several Toronto ridings, though the questions focused on national issues.

The parties were invited to choose their representatives and the participants were:

  • Bill Morneau, Liberal candidate for Toronto Centre
  • Chris Tolley, Green candidate for Toronto-Danforth
  • Craig Scott, NDP candidate for Toronto-Danforth


The candidates took questions from both the debate organizers and the audience on topics including the death of C279 — (a transgender rights bill), LGBT refugees, blood donation and protection for sex workers.

Thurs Sept 24 is the #Toronto debate on #LGBTQ issues in the federal election at @yyzbuddies, 5pm. #LGBTQVotes

Both the Liberal and the Green candidate stumbled on a question from an audience member about the criminalization of not disclosing one's HIV status. Only Scott — the only openly gay candidate on stage — appeared to be aware of the law.

Scott told BuzzFeed Canada the Liberals simply sent a local candidate "who is not an expert on the issues."

In his closing statements, Liberal candidate Morneau said he would be a "champion" for LGBT Canadians.

LGBT issues have by and large not been a talking point during this election. Green candidate Tolley said that's because it's not a comfortable topic for some of the other parties.

"It’s territory that the traditional parties have to be very careful about where they’re going. You’re trying to not lose your base, a lot of it is political strategy," he said.

The absence of a Tory candidate seems par for the course this election. According to a Star report, the party has told candidates to avoid debates and media requests. Party members, however, have said that is not the case.

Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at

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