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Conservative Lunn asked Green to boycott debate with him

A candidate running in Saanich-Gulf Islands said Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn asked him to boycott an all candidates' debate in Sidney this week.

“He called me and suggested I not go,” said Andrew Lewis, the Green Party candidate in Saanich-Gulf Islands. “I heard him through. He said if I don't go he won't go . . . He thought the whole thing was a set up by the Dogwood Initiative to showcase Briony Penn.”

Lunn is the incumbent and is facing a narrowed field after the NDP's Julian West withdrew from the race. Environmentalists, including the Conservation Voters of B.C., have been trying to consolidate progressive voters behind Liberal Briony Penn.

The October 7 debate, sponsored by six environmental groups including the CVBC, is the only one to be held in Sidney this election, said Lewis. “I decided I needed to be there.” Lunn made his call the day before the debate, Lewis said.

Lunn, however, did not come. “I was surprised he didn't show up in the end,” said Lewis. “I think he should have been able to speak up for himself and the party.”

Lunn, who was present at Conservative leader Stephen Harper's stop in Victoria this morning, did not return the Tyee's call.

“It seems very strange to me,” said Maurita Prato, an organizer of the debate. “Encouraging other parties not to show up as well, it's very strange behaviour. It sort of smells.”

Trying to derail the debate may be a sign Lunn is worried he will lose his seat, she said. “Gary Lunn seems very desperate in this case.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. You can reach him here.

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