Where to watch the French-language leaders debate

Here’s everything you need to know about the first of this week’s two leaders’ debates, from what’s on the agenda to how to watch it live

The five leading party leaders will face off on a debate stage twice this week, on back-to-back nights. First up is the French-language debate on Wednesday, Sept. 8. For all the details of how the evening will work and how you can watch, we have you covered.

Where and when?

The event is taking place at the Canadian at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., just across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill, but given COVID-19 protocols, there will be no live audience this time around. The debate runs from 8 to 10 pm EDT.

How can I watch or listen?

You have many, many options. Networks such as CBC, CTV and CPAC will air the debate live, and there are multiple online streaming options too, including Politco, YouTube and There is a full list of options here, including simultaneous translation into English and several other languages.

Who’s debating?

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O’Toole, Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul,  Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Leaders’ Debates Commissioner David Johnston (you may remember him from such previous roles as governor general) determined that to be included, a leader’s party must meet one of the following criteria: on the date the election is called, the party must have one MP in the House of Commons who was elected under that party’s banner; the party must have received at least four per cent of the popular vote in the previous federal election; or, five days after the election is called, the party must hold at least four per cent national support, as determined by an average of the horse race results from leading polling organizations.

That leaves out, for example, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier.

Who’s moderating?

The moderator is Patrice Roy of Radio-Canada, with journalists Hélène Buzzetti from Les coops de l’information, Guillaume Bourgault-Côté from L’actualité, Paul Journet  from La Presse and Marie Vastel of Le Devoir asking questions, while Noémi Mercier of Noovo Info stick-handles Canadian voters asking questions directly to the party leaders.

What’s on the agenda?

The debate will consist of five segments—focused on climate; cost of living and public finances; Indigenous peoples, cultural industries and cultural identity; justice and foreign policy; and the pandemic and healthcare—each including a question from a voter, a one-on-one debate, a three-way debate, a question from a journalist to each leader and a free-for-all debate among all the leaders on stage. Expect plenty of shouty cross-talk.

What if I’m feeling nostalgic and/or geeky?

You can watch key clips or the 2019 Leaders’ Commission debates in their entirety here. You can watch the 2019 Maclean’s/Citytv National Leaders Debate here and the 2015 Maclean’s debate here.

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