CBC Digital Archives

1984 leaders' debate (highlights)

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.

Prime Minister John Turner is on the defensive against fiery Progressive Conservative Brian Mulroney and New Democrat Ed Broadbent in this 1984 encounter. Mulroney pounces on Turner's patronage appointments and thunderously rejects Turner's leadership in a heated exchange. Broadbent gets in tough shots on both his opponents in an animated confrontation.
• The federal election of 1984 was held on September 4th. At dissolution, the House of Commons had 282 seats.

• After the debate, The Globe & Mail reported "...Mr. Turner and Conservative Leader, Brian Mulroney, hammered each other over patronage and economic issues ... NDP Leader Ed Broadbent scored points in a wide variety of issues that he said distinguishes his party from Tories and Liberals."

• The Globe credited Broadbent with coming out on top in the debate saying the event was "a contest of image over content and both (Turner and Mulroney) failed to achieve their objectives."

• Mulroney and the Progressive Conservatives dominated in 1984, winning 211 seats. It was the largest majority government in Canadian history and, at the time, the worst federal defeat for a governing party as the Liberals went from 135 seats to 40 (this trouncing was topped in 1993 when Kim Campbell's PC government went from 151 seats to two). The NDP took 30 seats with one claimed by an Independent. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 25, 1984
Guest(s): Ed Broadbent, Brian Mulroney, John Turner
Reporter: Jason Moscovitz
Duration: 4:00

Last updated: July 15, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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