Leaders' Debates Commission
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Leaders' Debates Commission
Leaders' Debates Commission
Commission des débats des chefs
Logo Leaders' Debates Commission.png
Agency overview
Formed2018 (2018)
JurisdictionFederal election debates
Agency executive
Parent agencyPrivy Council Office

The Leaders' Debates Commission is the independent Canadian government agency which was charged with organizing two debates, one in English and one in French,[1] between the leaders of eligible political parties during the 2019 Canadian federal election.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Following the 2019 election, the Commission released a report to Parliament containing recommendations for future election debates, including that itself be charged with organizing future debates and tasked with determining the criteria for a leader to be invited to debates.


Prior to the creation of the commission, Canadian leaders' debates were organized and held by a consortium of the main television networks.[8] In 2015, Stephen Harper, then leader of the Conservative Party, said he would not participate in debates organized by the consortium and instead participate in a series of independently organized debates.[9][10] While he later agreed to participate in a French language debate hosted by the consortium, no English language debate was hosted by the consortium due to the resulting uncertainty.[11] Other independently hosted debates occurred during the 2015 election campaign, but reached much smaller audiences than previous consortium debates.[10][12]


The commission is tasked with holding two official debates during the 2019 federal election. Following the election, it is also required to provide a report to Parliament on the leaders' debates and make recommendations for how future leaders debates should be conducted.[1][13][14]


David Johnston, former Governor General of Canada, is the commissioner.[15] Journalist Michel Cormier serves as the commissions' executive director.[1][16]

The body also has a seven person advisory board. The current members are of former Members of Parliament John Manley, Megan Leslie, and Deborah Grey, history professor Chad Gaffield, human rights activist Craig Kielburger, judge Louise Otis and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network CEO Jean LaRose.[1][17] The first meeting of the advisory board took place on March 26, 2019.[18]

2019 Debates

The English language debate is took place on October 7 and the French on October 10.[19][20] Both debates took place at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.[19][21]


Following the Commission's request for proposal, the Canadian Debate Production Partnership was selected to produce the debates. The CDPP consisted of a consortium of English- and French-language broadcasters and newspapers: CBC News/Radio-Canada, Global News, CTV News, the Toronto Star, HuffPost Canada/Quebec, La Presse, Le Devoir, and L'Actualité.[20][21]

The English debate was moderated by Rosemary Barton (CBC News), Susan Delacourt (Toronto Star), Dawna Friesen (Global News), Lisa LaFlamme (CTV News) and Althia Raj (HuffPost Canada), each responsible for a portion of the debate.[19] The French moderator was Patrice Roy (Ici Radio-Canada Télé), who was assisted by several journalists from prominent Quebec newspapers.[19]

Leaders invited

The government established rules in 2018 to determine which party leaders are invited to the official debates.[22][23] To be invited a party must satisfy two of the following:

  1. Have at least one member elected under the party's banner;
  2. Nominate candidates to run in at least 90% of all ridings; and
  3. Have captured at least 4% of the votes in the previous election or be considered by the commissioner to have a legitimate chance to win seats in the current election, based on public opinion polls.[22][23]

In November 2018, Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould said that Maxime Bernier would qualify for the debates as leader of the People's Party of Canada if the party nominated candidates in 90% of ridings.[7][20]

On August 12, 2019, the Commissioner extended invitations for Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh, Elizabeth May and Yves-François Blanchet to attend. He also sent a letter to Maxime Bernier indicating that he did not qualify for the debates at this time, and asking for additional information from the People's Party so that a final decision could be reached by September 16.[24] Bernier criticized the decision saying that it would not be a "real debate" without him.[25] On September 16, following submission of further information from the People's Party, the Commissioner determined that "more than one candidate endorsed by the party has a reasonable chance to be elected" and therefore Bernier would be invited to the debates.[26][27]

Content of debates

English debate: [28]

1. Affordability and economic insecurity

2. National and global leadership

3. Indigenous issues

4. Polarization human rights, and immigration

5. Environment and energy

French debate: [28]

1. The economy and finances

2. Environment and energy

3. Foreign policy and immigration

4. Ethics and governance

5. Service to citizens

On July 17, protesters gathered in cities across Canada calling for a leaders' debate to be held on the topic of climate change. The protests were directed at CBC News after organizers were told that broadcasters not the commission would determine the questions and topics of the debates. In response to the protests, the CBC released a statement saying that the commission and the editorial group at the broadcaster ultimately selected to host the debates would be responsible for making such determinations.[29][30][31][32][33] On August 8, 2019, organizers delivered a petition with 48,000 signatures to the CBC.[34]

2020 Report

In June 2020, the Commission released its report reviewing the 2019 election debates and making recommendations for future debates.[35][36] The report recommended a permanent and publicly funded commission be tasked with organizing two debates every election. It also called for the head of the commission to be selected through consultation with all political parties, and for the commission, not the government to set the criteria for participation in future election debates.[35][36]


  1. ^ a b c d Government of Canada (April 2019). "Leaders' Debates Commission". Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ Berthiaume, Lee (September 19, 2018). "Feds plan to have leaders' debate organizer in place by 2019 election". CTV News. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ Kirkup, Kristy (November 6, 2018). "Liberal government hammered over process to create independent debate commission". CTV News. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ Bryden, Joan (May 3, 2019). "Leaders' election debates need to be more accessible, more civil, commission told". CTV News. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ Wright, Teresa (May 26, 2019). "Scheer Accuses Trudeau Of Creating Favourable Re-Election By Putting Unifor On Media Panel". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ Berthiaume, Lee (September 19, 2018). "Trudeau Liberals setting up new body to organize federal leaders' debates". Global News. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ a b Vigliotti, Marco (November 22, 2019). "Bernier can join leaders' debates if People's Party meets nomination threshold: Gould". iPolitics. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ Coyne, Andrew (November 2, 2018). "Liberals squander chance to turn election debates into something meaningful". National Post. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ Chase, Steven (May 14, 2015). "Broadcasters fight back against federal leaders' debate changes". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ a b Berthiaume, Lee (September 19, 2018). "Liberals plan to have leaders' debate organizer in place by next election". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ Payton, Laura (August 12, 2015). "Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau confirm participation in Munk Debates, 2nd French debate". CBC News. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ Payton, Laura (July 9, 2015). "Election debate dates set by broadcasters without Conservatives". CBC News. Retrieved 2015.
  13. ^ Grenier, Éric (October 30, 2018). "Ex-governor general David Johnston nominated as Canada's first debates commissioner". CBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ Kirkup, Kristy (October 30, 2018). "Ottawa creating independent commission to organize leaders' debates". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2019.
  15. ^ Kirkup, Kristy (October 30, 2018). "David Johnston Tapped By Liberals To Organize 2019 Leaders' Debates". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ Vigliotti, Marco (Feb 19, 2019). "Former journalist named executive director of new debates commission". iPolitics. Retrieved 2019.
  17. ^ Vigliotti, Marco (March 22, 2019). "Ex-politicians Leslie, Manley, Grey to sit on debates' commission advisory board". iPolitics. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ CBC (March 26, 2019). "Leaders' Debates Commission advisers meet". CBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ a b c d CBC News (August 20, 2019). "CBC's Rosemary Barton to be among federal debate moderators". CBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ a b c Lim, Jolson (July 31, 2019). "Proposed dates for federal election debates set for second week of October". iPolitics. Retrieved 2019.
  21. ^ a b CBC News (July 31, 2019). "English election debate hosted by new media group set for week of Oct. 7". CBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  22. ^ a b Government of Canada (October 29, 2018). "Order In Council 2018-1322". Retrieved 2019.
  23. ^ a b Bryden, Joan (May 3, 2019). "Federal Election 2019 Debates Need To Be More Civil And Educational For Voters, Commission Told". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019.
  24. ^ Tasker, John Paul (August 12, 2019). "Maxime Bernier excluded from initial invitations to leaders' election debates". CBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  25. ^ The Canadian Press (August 18, 2019). "Maxime Bernier argues he deserves place in leaders' debates". CBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  26. ^ Lilley, Brian (16 September 2019). "MAD MAX TO GET HIS SAY: Bernier invited to two leader debates".
  27. ^ Wherry, Aaron (September 16, 2019). "Maxime Bernier invited to participate in official commission debates". CBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  28. ^ a b "Official leaders' debates to cover 5 topics, include questions from Canadians". Global News. Retrieved .
  29. ^ Silva, Steve (July 18, 2019). "Northern demonstrators demand CBC host federal leaders' debate on climate change". CBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  30. ^ Kwan, Braela (July 18, 2019). "Youth Taking Action: Rallies across Canada Seek CBC Leaders' Debate on Climate". The Tyee. Retrieved 2019.
  31. ^ Franson, Jason (July 18, 2019). "Younger voters mobilizing to make federal election about climate change". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 2019 – via CityNews.
  32. ^ Landreville, Troy (July 18, 2019). "Vancouver Island group calls on CBC to 'Change the Debate'". Comox Valley Now. Retrieved 2019.
  33. ^ Radio-Canada (July 17, 2019). "Des jeunes réclament un débat des chefs sur le climat". Radio-Canada. Retrieved 2019.
  34. ^ McIntosh, Emma (August 8, 2019). "Tens of thousands sign petition demanding CBC host climate debate". National Observer. Retrieved 2019.
  35. ^ a b The Canadian Press (June 1, 2020). "Report on federal election leaders' debates suggests permanent commission". CBC News. Retrieved 2020.
  36. ^ a b Johnston, David (Debates Commissioner) (June 1, 2020). "Democracy Matters, Debates Count: A report on the 2019 Leaders' Debates Commission and the future of debates in Canada". Leaders' Debates Commission. Retrieved 2020.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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