Answering the most googled questions during the Maclean’s Leaders Debate

Maclean’s answers the five questions that Canadians Googled during the Maclean’s debate

(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

Google makes the world go round. It’s where we go to settle dinner-table arguments, figure out odd acronyms and quietly investigate weird lumps on our bodies. During Thursday’s federal election debate, Canadian Google searches took on a different tone, as Canadians sifted through partisan rhetoric. Here are the most common questions Canadians googled during the debate—as well as some answers. You’re welcome.

Did Canada have a surplus before Harper?

Yes. Canada had a surplus every year between 1997 and 2005 under Jean Chrétien and then Paul Martin. Stephen Harper did run surpluses in 2006 and 2007, but he has posted deficits ever since. He says that has a lot to do with the global financial crisis of 2008. The other party leaders claim the Conservative party’s handling of the economy is to blame. Read our Maclean’s primer on each party’s economic policies so you can decide for yourself here.

Is Canada in a recession?

Many experts say yes. Harper says no. This was a key issue in the debate, with all the leaders throwing out numbers that directly contradicted each other. Here’s what we know for sure. The Canadian economy has shrunk in the last five months. To technically be called a recession, it takes six months of negative growth, but pretty much everyone except the Conservatives agree that, if we aren’t already in a recession, the economy isn’t doing great. To understand how we got here, read this: How Canada’s economy went from boom to recession so fast.

Related: Aaron Wherry answers Google’s top questions about the leaders

Who does Justin Trudeau consider to be middle class?

Justin Trudeau has made a middle-class tax cut one of the centrepieces of his economic plan. Under that plan, everyone earning between $44,701 and $89,401 gets a tax cut of 1.5 per cent (up to $670 a year). At the same time, he’s offering a child benefit for those making less than $150,000 a year (that’s about 90 per cent of Canadians). If you’re interested in a breakdown of the exact tax plans (including how much you’d need to pay), depending on who wins, we’ve got you covered here. If you’re wondering what each party will do about child care, that’s here.

    Does Thomas Mulcair want Quebec to separate?

    Thomas Mulcair fought to keep Quebec in the country in both the 1980 and 1995 referendums and he doesn’t want the province to leave now. However, his personal convictions aren’t the issue; his policies are. Mulcair has said that if 50 per cent plus one of Quebecers vote to leave Canada, they should be allowed to go. Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper are accusing him of fanning the flames of separatism. To understand Mulcair’s full position, check out this hard-hitting interview by Aaron Wherry: The Interview: NDP Leader Tom Mulcair

    What is the main role of the Senate?

    The tiny minority of Canadians who still defend the Senate would tell you its main role is roughly the same as the role of the House of Commons: to study bills in committee, propose amendments and, ultimately, vote on the law of the land. All of that is true, but that’s not why the Senate keeps making headlines. Senators are accused of wasting taxpayers’ money on personal trips and absurd luxuries; some are even facing criminal probes. All the parties agree that the Senate needs to change, but none agrees on how to do it. If you’re interested in learning about each party’s plan, check out our fun video here. Or check out John Geddes’s analysis of why our Senate may be here to stay: Senate reform? There’s just the teensy problem of the Constitution.

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