Federal leaders' debates set for Sept. 8, 9

A group of media outlets will organize federal leaders' debates on Sept. 8 and 9.

A group of media outlets will host one English and one French debate

Two leaders' debates, one in each of Canada's official languages, are being organized for September. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Dates and venues for two election debates between the leaders of Canada's federal parties have been set.

A French-language debate will be held on Sept. 8 from 8 to 10 p.m. EDT, and an English-language event will be held the next day from 9 to 11 p.m. EDT. Both debates will take place the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.

The debates are being produced by a coalition of media outlets: CBC News and Radio-Canada, APTN News, CTV News, Global News, L'actualité, Les coops de l'information, Le Devoir, Noovo Info and La Presse.

Patrice Roy of Radio-Canada will moderate the French event and journalists Hélène Buzzetti of Les coops de l'information, Guillaume Bourgault-Côté of L'actualité, Paul Journet of La Presse, Le Devoir's Marie Vastel and Noémi Mercier of Noovo Info will also participate.

Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, will moderate the English event, along with participation from CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton and Melissa Ridgen of APTN News, Evan Solomon of CTV News and Mercedes Stephenson of Global News.

Federal party leaders take part in a French-language debate in 2019. Since then, Erin O'Toole has become the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Annamie Paul has become leader of the Green Party of Canada. (Chris Wattie/The Canadian Press)

Topics for the debates will be announced three days before they take place.

The Debate Broadcast Group was selected to produce the debates by the Leaders' Debates Commission, the independent agency tasked with setting up two debates per election campaign.

Participation criteria already set

The commission already has announced the criteria for the leaders' participation in the events. Parties must meet at least one of three of the following requirements:

  • They must be represented in the House of Commons by at least one MP initially elected under the party banner.
  • They must have won at least four per cent of the national vote in the 2019 election.
  • They must show they draw at least four per cent of the national vote five days after the election is called, as demonstrated by public polling.

The Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Bloc and Greens all meet at least two of those requirements. Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada will need to show it is receiving at least four per cent of public support in polling if it wants to be represented in the two September events.

The commission said in June it would announce which political parties will participate in the debates no later than six days after the general election is called.

Like the debates organized by the commission in 2019, these events will be free to broadcast by other media organizations. The Debate Broadcast Group has already partnered with OMNI Television and CPAC.

The debates will be simultaneously translated into American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ), as well as six Indigenous languages. OMNI will translate the debate into Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi and Tagalog.


  • This story has been updated from an earlier version which incorrectly stated the number of criteria parties must meet to participate in the leaders' debates. In fact, parties must meet one of three criteria identified by the Leaders' Debates Commission.
    Aug 16, 2021 8:27 AM ET

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