Minister Gould hears from stakeholders in Montreal on political party leaders’ debates

News Release

Montreal, January 26, 2018 – Recognizing that a well-informed, engaged electorate is fundamental to the health and well-being of our democracy, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, met with a cross section of leaders from media, academia and public interest groups today in Montreal to hear their ideas for the creation of an independent commission or commissioner to organize federal political party leaders’ debates in advance of the 2019 election.

Today’s roundtable was held at McGill University and moderated by the Institute for Research on Public Policy. Some of the themes explored were:

  • who should organize leaders’ debates;
  • how the debates can reach the largest number of Canadians;
  • how to ensure that debates are accessible to all Canadians; and
  • how the education mandate of the independent commissioner could be structured.

Minister Gould’s mandate letter from the Prime Minister directs her to “bring forward options to create an independent commissioner to organize political party leaders’ debates during future federal election campaigns, with a mandate to improve Canadians’ knowledge of the parties, their leaders, and their policy positions.” Members of the public are invited to submit their feedback online until February 9, 2018.

The information gathered during this roundtable and other related consultations on leaders’ debates will be used to help inform policy decisions, with the goal of having an independent commission or commissioner in place in advance of the next federal election campaign.


“Leaders’ debates are a platform for political leaders to present their ideas and policy positions to Canadians. Their importance to an engaged and well-informed citizenry means we have an obligation to ensure they reach as many Canadians as possible. The ideas I heard today in Montreal will contribute to the dialogue we have been having across Canada and will help as we consider options for the organization of leaders’ debates.”
‑ The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions

Quick Facts

  • Today’s roundtable is the final in a series of roundtables Minister Gould and Parliamentary Secretary Fillmore hosted with stakeholders. Other roundtables were hosted in Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

  • The first televised federal party leaders’ debate took place in 1968.

  • The 1979 leaders’ debates attracted an audience of 7.5 million, nearly half of the English-speaking population.

  • Total viewership for both English and French debates in the 2015 election campaign were significantly lower than the debates held in 2006, 2008 and 2011.

Associated Links


For more information (media only), please contact:

Jordan Owens
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Media Relations
Privy Council Office

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