OTTAWA — The federal Conservative party has bowed to pressure to change the leadership debate format for the final formal event later this month.
Previous party debates had all 14 candidates on stage together for the entire time, a format widely panned as allowing for little substantive discussion of the issues.
Front-runner candidate Kevin O'Leary tried to force a change for the last event in Edmonton but ended up skipping it when the party didn't budge.
But the candidates have now been told that the format will more closely mirror that of a conservative conference in Ottawa earlier this year that saw contenders debating in small groups.
Half of the event on April 26 will be conducted that way and the other half will see all the candidates given time to make closing remarks and rebut points made by others.
The change was publicly announced Wednesday, along with the name of the debate moderator, businesswoman and long-time conservative Susan McArthur.
The event in Toronto will be the final party-sanctioned debate before Conservative party members begin receiving their ballots to select the winner of the contest, who will be declared on May 27.
O'Leary previously said he'd attend the final debate no matter the format, but hoped it would be changed. He was fined $10,000 for failing to show up in Edmonton.
The Canadian Press