MONTREAL — File this under “Only in Canada.”
A move is afoot to reschedule a federal election debate slated for Thursday so it doesn’t conflict with the opening game of the Montreal Canadiens’ first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe got the ball rolling Sunday by saying there’s little doubt hockey-mad Montreal fans will choose the game over the debate.
NDP Leader Jack Layton later echoed those sentiments, the Liberals followed suit, and the Conservatives said they could live with whatever the debate broadcasters decide.
Bloc leader Duceppe wants other party leaders to join him in urging the consortium of broadcasters who organize the debate to move it back a day.
He pointed out that the first English debate is scheduled for Tuesday, before the playoffs begin. The only other Canadian team in the playoffs is the Vancouver Canucks, who still don’t know their first-round opponent.
“All I’m asking is that the debate take place Wednesday so that Quebecers have as much access to this debate as Canadians,” Duceppe said.
“We all know that hockey is very popular in Canada and in Quebec, which is why it would be a better idea to push the French debate back to allow hockey fans to watch the debate as well as the game on Thursday night.”
The response from two of the other parties was strongly in favor, while the answer from the Tories was more equivocal.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the decision belongs to the broadcasters and the Tory leader will be there whichever day they choose.