Canada election: Leaders debates set for Sept. 8, 9

Click to play video: 'Canada’s 44th federal election begins during 4th COVID-19 wave'
Canada’s 44th federal election begins during 4th COVID-19 wave
WATCH: Canada's 44th federal election begins during 4th COVID-19 wave – Aug 15, 2021

Dates, venues and moderators are set for this year’s English and French federal election debates.

Come Sept. 8 and 9, viewers can expect to see each party’s candidates answer questions on current issues at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

The English debate is scheduled for Sept. 9, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, while the French debate is set to begin Sept. 8, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET, according to a release from the Debate Broadcast Group published Sunday.

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Angus Reid Institute president Shachi Kurl is expected to moderate the English debate, alongside Global News’ Mercedes Stephenson, CBC News’ Rosemary Barton, Evan Solomon of CTV News and APTN News’ Melissa Ridgen.

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Radio-Canada’s Patrice Roy is expected to moderate the French debate, with the assistance of Hélène Buzzetti of Les coops de l’information, Guillaume Bourgault-Côté of L’actualité, La Presse’s Paul Journet and Marie Vastel of Le Devoir.

During the French-language debate, Noovo Info’s Noémi Mercier is also expected to moderate segments that include questions asked by Canadian citizens.

Debate topics will be unveiled three days before each event takes place and will be simultaneously translated into American Sign Language, Lange des signes québécoise, and six Indigenous languages.

According to the release, OMNI Television will live translate in Arabic, Cantonese, Italian, Mandarin, Punjabi, and Tagalog.

Click to play video: 'Decision 2021: Where the parties stand on campaign trail'
Decision 2021: Where the parties stand on campaign trail

Leaders’ Debates Commissioner David Johnston unveiled participation criteria for the debates in June.

By the date of the election, Johnston said each candidate’s party must be represented in the House of Commons by an elected MP, have won at least four per cent of the national vote during the last federal election, or garner four per cent of the national vote within five days after the federal election date is set, which can be measured through public opinion polling.

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The Canadian federal election was officially announced on Sunday after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau confirmed he had asked Governor General Mary Simon to dissolve his minority government, triggering a new campaign. The election is expected to take place on Sept. 20.

“We are experiencing a historic moment and you have something to say about it,” Trudeau said.

“You have the right to choose the future of our country, whether it’s to pursue our vaccination efforts or to continue our support programs.”

Read more: Concerns mount for Afghans who helped Canada as Taliban tighten grip on Kabul

The move was met with criticism from other party leaders, who slammed Trudeau for calling an election against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic mere hours before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

“If the threat is so significant that we need to impose mandatory vaccination, is it not too dangerous to go to the polls?” Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet told reporters Sunday.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the summer election “selfish,” accusing Trudeau of triggering an election as a means to “grab power” and reclaim a majority government.

“Why does he want a majority? It’s certainly not because he wants to help more people or help people more. It’s only because he wants to help people less,” Singh said, adding that Trudeau should be focused on helping Canadian allies trapped in Afghanistan.

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“There’s so much more that we can do right now, that we should be doing, to help these allies out,” he said.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole accused Trudeau’s government of “letting Canadians down.”

“A leader who cared about the best interests of Canadians would be straining every sinew to secure the recovery right now. Instead, Justin Trudeau has called an election,” he said.

— with files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly

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