If you’ve been following the federal election closely, then you probably already know about Monday night’s leaders debate.
If you’re just joining in: we’re glad you’re here! But there are a few things to get caught up on before the leaders take the stage at 7 p.m. EST.
This debate will cover affordability and economic insecurity, the environment, Indigenous issues, human rights and immigration. You’ll hear about more than that, though, as the leading headlines in recent weeks are sure to make an appearance.
“We’ve done our best to create a format and an experience that will give Canadians access to the politicians facing off against each other but also responding to questions in the moment and moving off prepared scripts,” Jennifer McGuire, general manager and editor in chief of CBC News said of the debate topics in a September news conference in Ottawa.
Expect to hear leaders discuss Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s blackface scandal, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier’s polarizing immigration and climate platforms — and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s American citizenship.
So what’s to come, and what should you expect? The Star has compiled the key points below.
Where can I watch?
Right here. The Star will be live-streaming the debate — but you can also catch it live on CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Global News, as well as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
The debate is also going to be translated to: American and Quebec sign language, Ojibwe, Plains Cree, Inuktitut, Cantonese, Mandarin, Italian, Punjabi and Arabic. Described video will also be available.
Who is participating?
Party leaders from the six leading federal parties will be attending the debate:
- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer
- Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
- New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh
- Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
- Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet
- People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier
Hang on — Bernier will be there?
Yes, this debate now includes Bernier — though you may have heard he was not going to be in attendance.
Initially, Bernier was not invited to participate in the debate. According to David Johnston, former governor general who now leads the independent Leader’s Debates Commission, Bernier’s party faced an uphill battle electing more than one seat in this election.
That changed Sept. 16, when Johnston announced in a statement he was “of the view that the PPC has attracted a significant number of party members, has established a notable presence in the media and on the political landscape and, based on recent polling data, has achieved a reasonable chance of success in more than one riding.”
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Who is moderating?
The English-language debate will be moderated by five journalists — the Star’s Ottawa bureau chief Susan Delacourt, CBC’s Rosemary Barton, Global’s Dawna Friesen, CTV News anchor Lisa LaFlamme and HuffPost Canada bureau chief Althia Raj.
The moderators all represent the media companies which comprise the Canadian Debate Production Partnership. Each will moderate different segments of the debate.
How were the participants chosen?
The Leader’s Debates Commission — an independent group established to organized a debate in each official language — outlined three criteria a party must meet in order to be considered:
1) Representation in the current House of Commons by a member who was elected under that party’s banner.
2) A determination that the party intends to run candidates in at least 90 per cent of electoral districts.
3) The party’s candidates received at least four per cent of valid votes in the last election, or have a “legitimate chance” of winning seats, based on polling data and at the discretion of the debates commissioner.
A party needs to satisfy two of those requirements in order to be invited.
Is this the only debate?
This is the first Engish-language debate to be hosted during the election campaign. It follows a French-language debate that was hosted by Quebec TV station TVA on Oct. 2. Chantal Hébert has takeaways about that here (hint: Not a great night for Scheer in a province that she sees as vital to his election efforts).
What other debates will there be?
Look out for the French-language debate, which will air Oct. 10. It will be live-streamed on thestar.com.
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