Inside and outside Quebec, those who watched the French-language debate on Thursday had starkly differing impressions of who won.

But both groups agreed Conservative Leader Stephen Harper put in a good performance, according to results from Vote Compass, CBC's online voter engagement survey.

Among Quebec respondents, more considered Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe the winner of the Sept. 24 debate, with Harper getting the second most votes.

Non-Quebecers, however, handed it to Harper — and in fact thought Duceppe performed the poorest of the five candidates.

The results are based on 11,276 respondents who participated in Vote Compass between Sept. 24 and Sept. 25.

Inside Quebec, 29 per cent thought Duceppe won the debate, followed by Harper (20 per cent), NDP Leader Tom Mulcair (18 per cent), Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (eight per cent) and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (three per cent), according to the Vote Compass results.

Twenty-three per cent didn't have an opinion about who won.

The results looked different outside the province, where 31 per cent thought Harper won the debate, followed closely by Trudeau (30 per cent), Mulcair (18 per cent), May (five per cent) and Duceppe (two per cent).

Thirteen per cent didn't say.

Animated debate

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The French-language debate on Sept. 24 was the first debate in this election that featured all five party leaders. (Christinne Muschi/Canadian Press)

The debate, which took place in Montreal, was the first French-language debate of the campaign, as well as the first to include all five party leaders.

It was considerably more animated than the first two English-language debates, and featured a fair bit of crosstalk.

While the leaders argued over a range of topics, some of the most significant clashes centred on the issues of religious accommodation, Quebec sovereignty and stewardship of the economy.

Mulcair, whose party has been leading in the polls in Quebec, came under fire during the debate from both Duceppe and Harper for defending the idea that a woman should be allowed to wear a facial covering while taking the citizenship test.

Elizabeth May, whose command of French is acknowledged to be the weakest among the leaders, had one of the most memorable quips of the night, when she exclaimed, "What is the impact of the niqab on the economy? What is the impact of the niqab on climate change? What is the impact of the niqab on the jobless? It is a false debate meant as a distraction from the real challenges for Canada."

The Vote Compass results for the debate were also polarized when broken down by the first language of the respondent.

Thirty-six per cent of English speakers thought Harper won the debate, 26 per cent of French speakers thought Duceppe won and 31 per cent of those who specified another language thought Trudeau won.


Developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in Canada exclusively by CBC News. The results are based on 11,276 respondents who participated in Vote Compass between Sept. 24 and Sept. 25.

Unlike opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not randomly selected. Similar to opinion polls, however, the data are a non-random sample from the population and have been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample. Vote Compass data have been weighted by geography, gender, age, educational attainment, occupation, religion, religiosity and civic engagement to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to census data and other population estimates.