CBC Digital Archives

2008 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.

media clip
Top of the agenda for the 2008 leaders' debate is the economy as Canadians go to the polls in the midst of a global recession. Two rookie federal leaders are in the mix: Elizabeth May of the Green Party and the new Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion, whose Green Shift plan comes under attack from Conservative leader Stephen Harper. But it's Harper himself who mostly takes fire - for cuts to arts funding, his environmental record and proposed tough sentences for violent young offenders. As Canadians head to the polls yet again, the CBC's Paul Hunter sums up the 2008 debate.

• Despite introducing and passing a 2007 law in Parliament that fixed the date of the next election to Oct. 19, 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election on Sept. 7, 2008. Citing the "dysfunctional" nature of Parliament, he sought a stronger mandate from Canadians by setting the election for Oct. 14, 2008. • When the results came in, Harper had indeed won a stronger mandate, but not the majority he sought. The Conservatives finished with 143 seats (an improvement from 127 in 2006), the Liberals won 66, Bloc Quebecois had 49, and the NDP finished with 37 seats.

• Liberal leader Stéphane Dion resigned from his post days after the election. After a period of jostling between Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae to replace him, Ignatieff was declared interim leader in December 2008 and ratified as such in May 2009.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Oct. 1, 2008
Guest(s): Stéphane Dion, Gilles Duceppe, Stephen Harper, Jack Layton, Elizabeth May
Reporter: Paul Hunter
Duration: 3:28

Last updated: July 15, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 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...

Leaders' Debates 1968-2011: Highlights

After months of anticipation and weeks of campaigning, it all comes down to one night. Televis...

Leaders' Debates 1968-2011

After months of anticipation and weeks of campaigning, it all comes down to one night. Televis...

1989: May Day in the era of perestroika

In 1989 Moscow's May Day parade is a mass display of balloons and ribbons instead of weapons.

Fumbles and Stumbles: Great Election Gaffes

Call it a blunder, a slip-up, a goof or a gaffe, but if it happens on the campaign trail it ca...

"Orange Crush" helps NDP become Opposition in...

Stephen Harper's Conservatives win a majority, but the NDP garners a staggering seat count in ...