Everybody’s invited but Derek Sloan

MPP Randy Hillier, MP Derek Sloan, nurse Kristen Nagle and Pastor Henry Hildebrandt at a service at the Church of God in Aylmer, April 25, 2021. Image from Hildebrandt's YouTube Channel.

When Ontario’s party leaders meet for Monday’s televised debate, one party leader who appears to meet the requirements won’t be at the podium.

The debate is open to all party leaders with elected MPPs in the provincial legislature.

Steven Del Duca of the Ontario Liberal Party is invited, along with Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, and Mike Schreiner of the Green Party.

Even though the Ontario Party has a sitting member in Rick Nicholls, who represents Chatham-Kent-Leamington, Derek Sloan is not invited.

Nicholls’ campaign manager Sue Adams said she was told it was because he didn’t run in the last election as an Ontario Party candidate.

Nicholls ran under the Progressive Conservative banner in 2018. He was kicked out of the party last year when he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and sat as an independent before joining the Ontario Party last December, well before the writ dropped.

Adams said it sounded like a technicality.

Global News, which is producing the debate, did not immediately respond to a request from Windsor News Today for comment. Nicholls also had not responded at the time of publication.

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The debate will air on all the major television networks starting at 6:30 p.m. Journalists Steve Paikin and Althia Raj are the moderators.

A wider pool of journalists curated the questions, although some are from Ontario voters. The format also allows party leaders to ask questions of each other.