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1968 leaders’ debate

The Story

The leaders of Canada's four national parties spar on their biggest stage yet as CBC hosts Canada's first televised debate. Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, Robert Stanfield and Réal Caouette push their policies on health care, foreign relations and the Criminal Code and use media's biggest stage to sell themselves as the man to lead Canada.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: June 9, 1968
Guest(s): Réal Caouette, Tommy Douglas, Robert Stanfield, Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Moderator: Pierre Nadeau, Charles Templeton Panellists: Ron Collister, Tom Gould, Jean-Marc Poliquin
Duration: 2:5:21

Did You know?

• The federal election of 1968 was held on June 25th. At dissolution, the House of Commons had 264 seats.


• Televised Hansard in the House of Commons was nine years away, so this was a rare opportunity to watch the leaders present their ideas to the electorate.


• Confederation Hall, where the debate took place, is in the West Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It's illustrated on the front of the Canadian five dollar bill.


• After the broadcast, the Globe and Mail called it "a mild debate ... the similarity between the positions of Mr. Stanfield and Mr. Trudeau was evident from the moment they began their opening statements."


• Pierre Trudeau's Liberals won decisively in 1968, doubling the seat total of the second place Progressive Conservatives. The Liberals took 152 seats, Progressive Conservatives 72, New Democratic Party 22, Social Credit 14 and one seat going to an Independent.



Leaders' Debates 1968-2011: Arguing for Canada more