The leaders of the province’s four major political parties will face off during the Ontario Leaders Debate ahead of the provincial election.
The debate will air between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on May 16. It will be produced by a broadcast partnership made of CBC, CHCH, CITYTV, CPAC, CTV, Global and TVO.
Election day is June 2.
“Voters are busy. It’s difficult to pay attention to every announcement and promise that gets made during the campaign,” said Mackay Taggart, Ontario Regional Director of News, Global News, and member of the broadcast partnership organizing committee.
“Our hope is that the debate will allow Ontarians to hear the platforms of the leading parties, and compare them in an environment with as little rhetoric and spin as possible.”
The debate will feature PC Leader Doug Ford, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.
The debate is open to the leaders of all parties who have an elected MPP in the Ontario legislature. This excludes, for example, the New Blue Party of Ontario whose first MPP crossed the floor but was elected in 2018 under the PC banner.
The debate will be moderated by TVO’s Steve Paikin and Althia Raj, host of Toronto Star podcast It’s Political and a member of CBC’s At Issue panel.
“My co-moderator Althia Raj and I will start from a premise that the viewers want to hear from the leaders, and not us,” Paikin told Global News. “So, you’re not going to hear questions that go on forever, and you’re not going to see moderators being overly belligerent with the leaders.”
The hosts will ask questions curated by a wider group of journalists alongside questions raised by voters via video. Candidates will also be able to ask one another questions.
Data from polling firms will also be used to craft the topics discussed by party leaders.
Ontario’s party leaders have taken part in one main debate so far — an event dedicated to issues in northern Ontario. Healthcare, housing and highways were among the topics discussed.
“This will be my eighth leaders’ debate — both federal and provincial — and I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret: if the leaders are all determined to misbehave and scream at each other, there’s precious little the moderators can do,” Paikin said.
“We’ll beseech them all before the debate starts not to shout over each other and we hope they’ll respect the format and the rules.”
The debate will be broadcast on CBC, CHCH, CITYTV, CPAC, CTV, Global and TVO, as well as various radio stations, and will be streamed online.
It will be held at the TVO Broadcast Centre in Toronto.