Minister Gould seeks feedback from Canadians on political party leaders’ debates

News Release

Ottawa, January 11, 2018 – Recognizing that a well-informed, engaged electorate is fundamental to the health and well-being of our democracy, the Government of Canada is asking for feedback and recommendations from Canadians about the creation of an independent commission or commissioner to organize federal political party leaders’ debates in advance of the 2019 election.

As part of her mandate letter commitments from the Prime Minister, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, is consulting with Canadians on this issue in a number of ways:

  • Members of the public are invited to submit their feedback online until February 9, 2018.
  • In a series of roundtable discussions being held at academic institutions across Canada, Minister Gould and Parliamentary Secretary Andy Fillmore will be hearing from leaders in media, academia and public interest groups. These discussions will be moderated by the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).
  • In November, the Parliamentary Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) began its study of an independent commissioner responsible for leaders’ debates.

The information gathered during these consultations 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 Canadians with the opportunity to learn more about the policies and personalities of the people who seek to lead our country. These debates, and the discussions that they can spark amongst Canadians, are important elements of our democracy. I look forward to hearing more from Canadians about the best way to ensure that these debates are organized and distributed in a way that is impartial and available to as many people as possible.”
‑ The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions

Quick Facts

  • 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.

  • Over the next few weeks, Minister Gould and Parliamentary Secretary Fillmore will be hosting roundtables with stakeholders in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

  • 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.”

Associated Links


For more information (media only), please contact:
Dan Lindenas
Director of Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Media Relations
Privy Council Office

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