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Bill Kelly: The federal leaders’ debates need a reboot

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pose for a photograph before the federal leaders' debate in Gatineau, Que., on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pose for a photograph before the federal leaders' debate in Gatineau, Que., on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Now that the federal election is in our rearview mirror, it’s time to consider ways to make our elections more attractive to the millions of potential voters who chose not to take part in the process.

Former governor general David Johnston has an idea that may help voters become more engaged. He suggests we reboot how the leaders’ debates are structured.

READ MORE: Six federal party leaders make pitches to voters in final debate of campaign

Instead of having all of the leaders on one stage talking over each other and reciting their pre-written talking points, there should be one debate with only the main contenders and another debate with the second-tier leaders.

It’s a concept worthy of consideration, and this past election underscores the need to revamp the process.

READ MORE: Blog — 2019 Canadian election leaders’ debate

Polling throughout the election campaign indicated that it was a two-horse race between the Liberals and the Conservatives. There was no way the Green Party, the Bloc Québécois, the People’s Party or even the NDP were going to form the next government. So why not a head-to-head debate between the two front-runners to help voters decide?

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If you have less than, say, 20 per cent of voter support, you should be relegated to the second-tier debate.

It’s not the ideal solution to electoral reform, but it might be a good first step.

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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