CBC Digital Archives

1988 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
Free trade dominates the debate as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, head of the Progressive Conservatives, takes on Liberal John Turner and Ed Broadbent of the New Democratic Party in a debate the issues of the 1988 election.

In addition to discussing the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States, considered the single most important issue of the campaign, they talk about issues important to women, including abortion, pay equity and a child care program.

• The 1988 election was held on November 21st. At dissolution there were 282 seats available in the House of Commons. After redistribution, 13 more ridings were added for a total of 295 eligible seats for this election.

• "In an extraordinary exchange between the federal party leaders the signing of the free trade agreement sparked a bitter argument over patriotism," reported the Globe & Mail. The heated exchange between Brian Mulroney and John Turner "was the high point of the three hour debate."

• The election results: Progressive Conservatives 169 seats, Liberals 83 and the New Democrats 43.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: Oct. 25, 1988
Guest(s): Ed Broadbent, Brian Mulroney, John Turner
Moderator: Rosalie Silberman Abella
Panellist: David Halton, Pamela Wallin, Doug Small
Duration: 2:56:24
Some technical difficulties occured during the original broadcast.

Last updated: February 3, 2012

Page consulted on October 1, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Fighting Words: Bill 101

On March 31, 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Quebec's language law but ruled that the...

The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement

It was the most controversial agreement of its kind in Canadian history. Prime Minister Brian ...

Ed Broadbent: A Voice from the Left

As leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent was a democratic socialist who loved to smoke cigars and dr...

The Auto Pact: En Route to Free Trade

In 1965, a landmark agreement with the United States transformed Canada's tiny car-making indu...

1990: Canadians to face more taxes with the n...

To cries of protest, the House of Commons passes the controversial Goods and Services Tax bill...

1988: Free Trade Agreement signed

The Canada-U.S Free Trade Agreement is now official... at least on paper.