Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis will not be attending the party’s third official debate set to take place in Ottawa on August 3.

Campaign spokesperson Micheal Hettrick told CTV News that Lewis “made commitments to meet with local grassroots members in person next week.” 

“She will be honouring those commitments.”

Lewis had previously published an open letter to the party’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC), where she said she could not in good conscience attend the third official debate if it revolved around previously discussed topics such as the carbon tax and the federal budget.

“I cannot in good conscience fritter away an opportunity to meet thousands of Canadians who are desperate for answers so that I could attend an impromptu meeting with leadership candidates to discuss questions to which the answers have already been memorialized in previous debate videos that exist online,” said Lewis.

According to Lewis, there was a lack of details on the debate’s format and the party chose a date she explicitly said was unavailable. 

Lewis also said that “despite our team being in regular communication to confirm whether there was going to be a third official party debate, we were granted only two weeks notice to change our travel plans, cancel events with grassroots members, and were threatened with a fine of $50,000 if we didn’t cooperate with this sudden change of plans.”

In her letter, Lewis said she would of liked to see candidates debate issues surrounding the Liberal’s Net-Zero Policy, the World Economic Forum, the WHO Pandemic Treaty, the effectiveness of Covid vaccines, as well as the injuries vaccines have caused and the topic of abortion.

She added that “it is easy to survey the party’s 675,000 members and cherry pick some ‘member asked questions’ that are safe and paint our party in a media friendly light.”

Lewis has often engaged in Question & Answer sessions with attendees at her campaign rallies. Members have been able to ask her direct questions on a variety of issues.

She is the second candidate to drop out of the party’s controversial third debate, which is set to take place during what campaigns say is the middle of the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) period.

The campaign of presumed front-runner Pierre Poilievre has also announced that he would not be attending the third official debate.

“The Party’s proposed third debate is smack dab in the middle of the get out the vote period,” said the Poilievre campaign. 

“The sole objective of the campaign now is to get new members and existing members to fill out their ballots and submit them before the September deadline.”

The party’s spokesman Yaroslav Baran previously confirmed to the Canadian Press that attendance is mandatory.

Candidates who skip the debate are set to face an “automatic” $50,000 fine, as per party rules.

There have already been two leadership debates organized by the party,  another debate hosted by the Canada Strong and Free Network and various events including forums and fireside chats.