New media group to host federal election debate in October

Canadians are scheduled to go to the polls in three months for the federal election. With the unofficial campaign already underway, Eric Sorensen looks at how things are shaping up for the parties.

This year’s federal election debates will take place in Ottawa during the second week of October and will be hosted by the Canadian Debate Production Partnership (CDPP), a new partnership of Canadian media organizations.

The English debate will take place Oct. 7 and the French debate will be Oct. 10.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the 2019 federal leaders’ debates

The CDPP, which is headed up by former governor general David Johnston, has been named the event’s official producer and will distribute the French and English versions to a number of platforms. These platforms include:

  • Global News
  • CBC News
  • Radio-Canada
  • CTV News
  • Toronto Star and Torstar chain
  • HuffPost Canada and HuffPost Québec
  • La Presse
  • Le Devoir
  • L’Actualité

For a party’s leader to participate in the debate, the party must meet at least two of three criteria:

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  • Have a member of Parliament elected as a member of that party in the House of Commons at the time the election is called;
  • Intend to run candidates in at least 90 per cent of ridings in Canada;
  • Have either obtained four per cent of the vote in a previous election or have a legitimate chance to win seats in the upcoming election.

The debates will be free to stream and the broadcasts will be available in French, English, some Indigenous languages and non-official languages, ASL, LSQ and described video.

“Debates play an essential role in our democracy and we are delighted to have the experience of the CDPP to help deliver high quality, informative, transparent debates to Canadians,” Johnston said in a statement.

“The CDPP is able to reach a large number of Canadians, across the country, on a variety of platforms. We respect their experience delivering quality political journalism, their rich history producing engaging and informative journalism and their journalistic integrity.”

READ MORE: Upcoming federal election debates need to be more ‘civil’, commission says

In May, Johnston consulted with 45 groups as the commission prepared a proposal to host the election debates. They conveyed that the coming federal election campaign ought to be more accessible, more civil and more educational for voters trying to make an informed choice.

Michel Cormier, executive director of the commission, previously told Global News that those consulted included academics, cultural communities, journalists, experts in civic education, debate organizers in other countries, as well as representatives of the six Canadian political parties most likely to meet the criteria required for their leaders to take part in both the English- and French-language debates.

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READ MORE: As parties prep for the 2019 election, Scheer’s Tories are summer’s early frontrunners: Ipsos poll

The federal election is set to take place on October 21 with the latest polls indicating that Scheer’s Tories have a slim lead over the Liberals heading into campaign season.

–With files from the Canadian Press.