Party leaders set to woo English Canada in 2nd debate

Federal party leaders will look to gain traction in English Canada in Thursday night's election debate, a day after attempting to pick up ground in the crucial Quebec battleground during their verbal-jousting session in French.

Federal party leaders will look to gain traction in English Canada in Thursday night's election debate, a day after attempting to pick up ground in the crucial Quebec battleground during their verbal-jousting session in French.

As in the French session, a significant portion of Thursday's English-language debate at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa will focus on the economy in light of the financial unrest in the United States.

CBC Television, CBC Newsworld and CBC Radio One will broadcast the debate live from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET. It will also be streamed live on and Canada Votes.

CBC Newsworld's broadcast coverage begins at 8:40 p.m. ET with host Don Newman.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is expected to be more aggressive in the second debate as he again tries to brand his party as the best to navigate Canada through uncertain economic waters. 

A relaxed and reserved Harper spent much of the French-language debate Wednesday night fending off attacks from other party leaders over the economy, often acquiescing to his opponents' demands to speak.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion will look to gain momentum from the French debate. On Wednesday night, Dion — appearing at ease speaking in his first language — outlined a five-point economic plan that he said he would implement within a month of forming a government.

There will be less at stake for Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe on Thursday night, but the French-language debate was vital for him. He compared Harper to U.S. President George W. Bush, and attacked the Conservative leader for his $45 million in cuts to culture funding across Canada.

NDP Leader Jack Layton is likely to continue attacking Harper's economic policies Thursday night after saying on the previous day that a Harper government would give tax cuts to corporations and oil companies.

Green Leader Elizabeth May will look to be more vocal in Thursday's debate after labouring through the French session. She did, nevertheless, take jabs at Harper over his economic record and his tough-on-crime approach.

Dion, Duceppe rank highest in performance poll 

An online poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid following the debate had 40 per cent of 637 French-speaking Canadians who responded saying Dion won the debate, compared to 24 per cent saying Duceppe won.

About 20 per cent of respondents said the leaders' performances made them change their mind on who they would vote for on Oct. 14.

Harper ranked third among respondents, with 16 per cent saying he won the debate. Only 11 per cent of respondents said they believed Layton won, while only one per cent put May as the winner. The survey has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Following Thursday night's debate, federal leaders will again take their campaigns on the road.

The debate is scheduled to run from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET and will be moderated by TVOntario's Steve Paikin. It coincides with the U.S. vice-presidential candidates' debate between Republican nominee Sarah Palin and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Do you have a question for Stéphane Dion? Send it tonational@cbc.cafor The National's Your Turn with the Liberal party leader on Oct. 8.