Conservatives debate carbon tax, drug policy in Vancouver

Several prominent candidates absent from Sunday's debate, including reality TV star Kevin O'Leary and Kellie Leitch

VANCOUVER – Conservative party leadership hopefuls sparred in Vancouver Sunday about whether they would scrap the carbon tax, an environmental policy first introduced in British Columbia and proposed by the current Canadian government.

Nine of the 14 candidates vying to lead the country’s official Opposition faced off on Sunday in front of several hundred members of the public.

Michael Chong says Canada’s decision to introduce a national carbon tax, a policy that was first introduced in British Columbia, is a good idea and would allow for a multibillion-dollar cut to income taxes.

Several prominent candidates were absent from Sunday’s debate, including reality TV star Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch, whose controversial proposal to screen new immigrants for “Canadian values” has prompted criticism.

There are two remaining official leadership debates scheduled in the lead-up to May 27, when Conservatives will elect a new party leader.