Conservative Leadership Candidates Face Off Friday

It will be standing room only when Conservative leadership hopefuls go head-to-head in a southwestern Ontario debate on Friday.

Ten of the 14 leadership candidates will take the stage at the Komoka Wellness And Recreation Centre on Tunks Lane in Komoka at 7pm. Candidates not attending include Kevin O'Leary, Kellie Leitch, Andrew Saxton, and Deepak Obhrai.

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex Conservative MP Bev Shipley is hosting the debate, which will be the only one held in the region before party members cast their votes on May 27.

While those in the audience will not be able to ask questions during the debate, area residents were encouraged to submit questions online before hand.

"We've had a wide variety of questions submitted, so there will be diversity," said Shipley. "There will be questions around immigration, small businesses, agriculture, and the newly released budget. Each candidate will have an opportunity to answer and then there will be a rebuttal opportunity."

Based on pre-registration numbers, Shipley said they are expecting the facility to reach its 480 person capacity. Although an effort will be made to accommodate those who show up at the door.

Shipley believes the number of candidates in the race is one of the factors driving interest in the debate.

"One of the difficult things about this leadership race is that there are 14 candidates. One of the great things about it is it shows a great confidence, that these individuals are very confident people," said Shipley. "This debate gives another opportunity for more people to hear and try to determine out of that large number of candidates who they see as the best person to lead the party."

Doors open at 6:30pm.

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