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

News Release

Toronto, January 17, 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 Toronto 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 Ryerson 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 provide a platform through which all Canadians can take part in public discourse on issues of national importance. The Government of Canada is listening to Canadians about how we can ensure these debates continue to contribute to an engaged and well-informed citizenry, as well as a healthier, more vibrant democracy.”
‑ The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions

Quick Facts

  • Today’s roundtable is the second in a series of roundtables Minister Gould and Parliamentary Secretary Fillmore are hosting with stakeholders. A roundtable was hosted in Halifax on January 15th, with other roundtables planned for Montreal, 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:
Dan Lindenas
Director of Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of Democratic Institutions613-995-0308

Media Relations
Privy Council Office

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