Big moments in Canadian federal campaign debate history
The first of four campaign debates will kick off this Thursday. The first set will be held in Vancouver. On Thursday, Dec. 15, it will be the French-language debate, followed the next day by the English-language debate. Both will be broadcast from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET on CBC Newsworld. The second set of debates will be held in Quebec on January 9-10.
Analysis of the French-language debate, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005.
Leaders' Debates: January 9&10, 2006 8-10 p.m. ET
Join us for live analysis of the second set of leaders' debates, being held in Montreal, Quebec at La Maison de Radio-Canada.
The English-language debate happens Monday, January 9, moderated by TVO's Steve Paiken.
The French debate takes place the next day (January 10) moderated by TVA's Sophie Thibault.
The debates will be broadcast between 8 p.m. ET - 10 p.m. ET.
Canadian debates seem to have a history of, well, not much happening. So we started wondering, what federal campaign debate events have been significant in previous elections?
2000 - Stockwell Day (Canadian Alliance), Jean Chretien (Liberal), Joe Clark (Progressive Conservative), Alexa McDonough (NDP) and Gilles Duceppe (Bloc Quebecois)
Health care was at the top of the agenda for many Canadians throughout this election. During the debate Stockwell Day held up a crude sign written in magic-marker saying "No 2-tier health care," breaking the debate rules and frustrating even his own advisors. All leaders had agreed to bring only their notes to the debate, and the move left everybody talking about little else.
Gilles Duceppe also had a strong moment during the debate while referring to dubious loans of public funds in the then PM Jean Chretien's constituency. "The government is playing with the taxpayers' money," Duceppe declared. "I know your favourite song is 'Don't Worry, Be Happy.' I'm telling you the next one will be 'Be Worried, There's an Inquiry.'"
1993 - Jean Chretien (Liberal), Kim Campbell (Progressive Conservative), Audrey McLaughlin (NDP), Preston Manning (Reform) and Lucien Bouchard (Bloc Quebecois)
This debate was significant for what it didn't have. Personal attacks were few, and the jump in the number of parties at the podium meant getting face time was a challenge for all the candidates. This new atmosphere would set the pace for future debates.
1988 - John Turner (Liberal), Brian Mulroney (Progressive Conservative) and Ed Broadbent (NDP)
CBC Archives Video (Runs 1:49)
It was John Turner who seemed to get the best of Mulroney in this debate as he pummeled Mulroney's commitment to Canada and insinuated he was endangering the country's sovereignty by signing the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He accused Mulroney of selling Canada out with "one signature of a pen." Mulroney's big rebuttal was "Be serious."
1984 - John Turner (Liberal), Brian Mulroney (Progressive Conservative) and Ed Broadbent (NDP)
CBC Archives Video (Runs 3:59)
Liberal Party patronage was a major issue in the 1984 election. Previous Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau had appointed over 70 Liberal-affiliated cronies to various patronage posts the day before he resigned office. When new Liberal leader John Turner was sworn in as Prime Minister, he did not rescind those appointments, despite widespread outrage expressed by news commentators and the public.
In the televised leaders' debate, Turner defended his decision by responding to a journalist's question saying, "I had no option." Brian Mulroney seized the opportunity. "You had an option, sir, to say no, and you chose to say yes to the old attitudes and the old stories of the Liberal party," he argued. "That sir, if I may say respectfully, that is not good enough for Canadians." Turner froze.
1972 and 1974 saw no televised debates.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau didn't like the format and refused to participate.
1968 - Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Liberal), Robert Stanfield (Progressive Conservative), Tommy Douglas (NDP), Real Caouette (Social Credit)
CBC Archives Video (Runs 6:37)
This was the first time Canadian federal campaign debates were televised. During the French-language debate Trudeau made a big impact when he defended his idea to reintroduce the Omnibus Bill, which had died on the table when the election was called. He justified the bill's stance on homosexuality by saying "We are not going to send policemen in the nation's bedrooms to see what goes on between two adults over the age of 21, that is all there is to it."