APTN to produce Canada’s next federal election leaders’ debate

A technician cleans the set in preparation for a leaders debate, Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in Montreal. Leaders of five major parties have received invitations to participate in federal leaders' debates in October, with the People's Party of Canada left out for now.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson.

The commission overseeing leaders’ debates during federal elections says Indigenous media outlet APTN will be one of the broadcast partners producing the next event.

The Leaders’ Debates Commission announced on April 1, 2021, some details of the next two official election debates, one in English and one in French, as speculation continues to mount in Ottawa about the timing of the next federal vote.

Read more: Blog: 2019 Canadian election leaders’ debate

A group of broadcast news organizations that includes CBC, CTV, Global and APTN will produce, promote and distribute the English-language debate during the next campaign.

APTN National News and Current Affairs executive director Cheryl McKenzie says they are very pleased with the news and adds this decision honours one of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action #85 for APTN to support reconciliation by continuing to provide leadership in programming that reflects the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples.

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“That’s part of why we accepted the invitation because it’s our mandate and our duty to honour our responsibility to bring the voices of Indigenous Peoples into the national political dialogue for all Canadians to have access to,” says McKenzie. “This is huge for us and we don’t take it lightly. This is the first time in history that a national Indigenous news media organization will have meaningful involvement in the federal leaders’ debates. We put our hands up in respect to the leadership of CBC News, Global News and CTV News for changing the course of history in Canada. We owe this partnership to all of our audiences.”

Read more: ‘First Contact’: TV docuseries seeks to shatter Indigenous stereotypes in Canada

APTN says the biggest part of their preparations for Canada’s next federal election leaders’ debate is asking the people of Indigenous communities what is important to them.

“Our journalists all across the country will provide their analysis of what they’re hearing on the ground,” adds McKenzie. “Election issues and campaign speeches will be brought into the journalism we do in our news and weekly current affairs shows. We’ll also make full use of our social media platforms to reach as many people as possible ahead of the election, during, and after as we follow up on the campaign promises.”

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According to a Canadian Press media release, the debates will be carried across Canada by those in the broadcast group, as well as by OMNI Television, CPAC, the Toronto Star and third-party platforms, and it will also be translated into Indigenous and other non-official languages.

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The timing of the debates will depend on when Canadians next head to the polls, which could be sooner than the next fixed-election date in 2023 if the Liberal minority government is dissolved before then.

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