CBC Digital Archives

1968 leaders' debate

After months of anticipation and weeks of campaigning, it all comes down to one night. Televised leaders' debates can be the defining moments of federal election campaigns, a couple of hours that can make or break a politician's chances of running the country. From Pierre Trudeau's 1968 small screen debut to the fireworks and finger pointing of Mulroney vs. Turner and ending in 2011, the CBC Digital Archives presents each of the English debates from 1968 to 2011. Follow the news recaps with the "highlights" clips, or watch the debates in their entirety.

media clip
The leaders of Canada's four national parties spar on their biggest stage yet as CBC hosts Canada's first televised debate. Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, Robert Stanfield and Réal Caouette push their policies on health care, foreign relations and the Criminal Code and use media's biggest stage to sell themselves as the man to lead Canada.

• The federal election of 1968 was held on June 25th. At dissolution, the House of Commons had 264 seats.

• Televised Hansard in the House of Commons was nine years away, so this was a rare opportunity to watch the leaders present their ideas to the electorate.

• Confederation Hall, where the debate took place, is in the West Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It's illustrated on the front of the Canadian five dollar bill.

• After the broadcast, the Globe and Mail called it "a mild debate ... the similarity between the positions of Mr. Stanfield and Mr. Trudeau was evident from the moment they began their opening statements."

• Pierre Trudeau's Liberals won decisively in 1968, doubling the seat total of the second place Progressive Conservatives. The Liberals took 152 seats, Progressive Conservatives 72, New Democratic Party 22, Social Credit 14 and one seat going to an Independent.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: June 9, 1968
Guest(s): Réal Caouette, Tommy Douglas, Robert Stanfield, Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Moderator: Pierre Nadeau, Charles Templeton Panellist: Ron Collister, Tom Gould, Jean-Marc Poliquin
Duration: 2:5:21

Last updated: February 3, 2012

Page consulted on June 10, 2014

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