Live updates: Leaders face off in only federal election debate in English

Live updates: Leaders face off in only federal election debate in English

Follow our live coverage as Justin Trudeau, Erin O’Toole, Jagmeet Singh, Yves-François Blanchet and Annamie Paul square off in what could be a pivotal confrontation ahead of the Sept. 20 election.

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This is the Montreal Gazette’s live coverage of tonight’s federal leaders’ debate. Questions/comments? ariga@postmedia.com

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Top updates:

  • Ahead of debate, leaders agree on something, urge Canadians to get vaccinated
  • Welcome to our live coverage
  • Here’s the agenda for tonight’s debate
  • Leaders gearing up for English-language debate tonight after French joust
  • Tonight’s debate could be crucial, pollster says
  • Too close to call – Liberals and Conservatives running neck and neck, polls suggest
  • François Legault favours minority Conservative government
  • Lacklustre second leaders debate short on emotion, heavy on talking points
  • Polytechnique gun control group warns Tories will gut firearms limits
  • Maxime Bernier’s party expels official for throwing gravel at Trudeau
  • Spreading misinformation and disinformation: Trudeau blasts far-right site Rebel News
  • Sept. 20 is election day, with advance polls set to open tomorrow – here’s how to vote

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8:20 p.m.

Leaders arrive at debate site

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul arrives for the last of three two-hour debates ahead of the Sept. 20 election, at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul arrives for the last of three two-hour debates ahead of the Sept. 20 election, at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. Photo by BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole arrives at the Canadian Museum of History.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole arrives at the Canadian Museum of History. Photo by BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS

8:15 p.m.

Ahead of debate, leaders agree on something, urge Canadians to get vaccinated

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8 p.m.

Welcome to our live coverage

Good evening.

Welcome to our live coverage of the first and only English leaders’ debate in advance of the Sept. 20 federal election.

I’ll be providing updates throughout the evening. I’ll post a live feed of the proceedings once it is available.

Tonight’s two-hour confrontation starts at 9 p.m. It’s being held at the Museum of Canadian History in Gatineau, across the river from Parliament Hill.

Five federal leaders will be on the stage – Liberal Justin Trudeau, Conservative Erin O’Toole, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, the Bloc Québécois’ Yves-François Blanchet and Annamie Paul of the Green Party.

The event is being organized by the Debate Broadcast Group, which was selected by the Leaders’ Debates Commission, an independent federal entity.

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Maxime Bernier was not invited because his People’s Party of Canada did not meet the criteria established by the commission. A former Conservative minister and leadership candidate, Bernier lost his seat in the last election.


8 p.m.

Here’s the agenda for tonight’s debate

Tonight’s debate will cover five themes, the Debate Broadcast Group says:

  • Affordability
  • Climate
  • COVID recovery
  • Leadership and accountability
  • Reconciliation

The debate will include five segments, each corresponding to one of the five themes.

All five segments will include the following:

  • A question from a voter
  • A question from the moderator or a journalist to each leader
  • Leader-to-leader-to-leader debate (three leaders)
  • Open debate (all five leaders)

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Tonight’s debate will be moderated by Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, with the participation of journalists Rosemary Barton (CBC), Melissa Ridgen (APTN), Evan Solomon (CTV) and Mercedes Stephenson (Global).


8 p.m.

Leaders gearing up for English-language debate tonight after French joust

From The Canadian Press:

Five federal party leaders are licking their wounds and prepping their zingers after an occasionally testy debate Wednesday that came a day ahead of the first and only one in English.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and Green party Leader Annamie Paul will reconvene at 9 p.m. ET Thursday for the third debate.

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The parties sought to stake out positions and attack their opponents in the hours leading up to the leaders’ debate, with Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland criticizing the Conservatives’ childcare plan as a “step backward” for women, children and the economy.

The Liberal government has inked five-year deals with eight provinces and two territories to pay for more child-care spaces and reduce child-care fees to an average of $10 per day by 2026. The total cost is estimated at $30 billion, and includes a deal to transfer $6 billion to Quebec, which already offers $8.50-per-day child care, to increase the number of spaces available.

The Tories have said they would honour those deals for the first year if elected to government, but then convert the existing child-care expense deduction into a refundable tax credit that would cover up to 75 per cent of child-care costs for low-income families.

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A Conservative costing document says almost $27 billion of the $30 billion allocated by the Liberal government for the program would be cut, replaced by a tax credit that would cost almost the same amount but go directly to parents.

“Early learning and child care is an urgent economic issue,” said Freeland, who is running the Toronto riding of University-Rosedale. “All parents — and I’m going to be candid here, especially all mothers — understand this. Erin O’Toole clearly does not.”

The Conservatives, meanwhile, highlighted their promise to ban products made with forced and slave labour, specifically calling out China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority while portraying themselves as the best choice for those concerned about human rights abroad.

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“For years, we’ve known Uyghur slave labour is being used by China’s Communist regime in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to produce products like cotton, tomatoes, and solar panels for export,” O’Toole said in a statement.

“As prime minister, I won’t hesitate to act against this disgusting practice and ensure that the worst human rights offenders don’t profit from these abuses.”

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet on Thursday rejected the idea of being part of a coalition federal government after the election.

Blanchet said he would refuse any scenario that would see his party prop up a Liberal or Conservative minority government for any length of time in the House of Commons, and would instead support a minority government that would survive a full four-year mandate.

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Before the English-language debate, Singh went shopping with his expecting wife at an Ottawa baby store on Thursday.

Several NDP candidates in the Toronto area have highlighted the party’s promise to establish a guaranteed livable income, starting with seniors and people living with a disability.

“This is absolutely essential,” said Alejandra Bravo, the candidate for Davenport. “This, coupled with our amazing commitments around affordable housing, which are tangible and doable, are going to make a significant difference to reduce the poverty in this country.”

This week’s French and English-language debates come as opinion polls suggest the Liberals and Conservatives are stuck in a tight two-way race, with the NDP and Bloc poised to determine which of the two main parties emerges victorious.

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8 p.m.

Tonight’s debate could be crucial, pollster says

Jean-Marc Léger of the Léger polling firm notes that in the last three elections the English debate had an impact on about three per cent of the electorate.

“Three per cent is enough to change a government or to get a majority,” he noted on Twitter.

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Fifty-four per cent of Canadians say they will likely watch one of this week’s debates, according to a poll published yesterday by Léger. It was conducted for Postmedia.


7:30 p.m.

Too close to call – Liberals and Conservatives running neck and neck, polls suggest

With 11 days to go before election day, surveys indicate that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives are in a very tight race, with the final result too close to call.

Below are the last 10 national polls, as compiled by 338Canada, a site that uses survey results, electoral history and demographic data to create electoral projections.


7:30 p.m.

François Legault favours minority Conservative government

Premier François Legault today gave a tacit endorsement to the Conservatives, urging Quebec nationalists to beware of the Liberals, New Democratic Party or Green Party because they want to centralize more power in Ottawa.

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Wading hip deep into the election campaign, Legault said even if Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has shortcomings such as wanting to rip up the $6-billion daycare deal signed by Legault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just before the election, other parts of his platform are appealing.

Philip Authier reports from Quebec City.


7:30 p.m.

Lacklustre second leaders debate short on emotion, heavy on talking points

With less than two weeks before election day and an increasingly tight race between parties, Canada’s political leaders had a largely flat debate Wednesday, where each participant mostly served viewers pre-packaged lines on hot-button issues such as the deficits, the environment, healthcare and Indigenous policy.

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Read our full story.


7:30 p.m.

Polytechnique gun control group warns Tories will gut firearms limits

PolySeSouvient, a group of students and graduates of the Ecole Polytechnique formed to promote gun control after the mass murder of 14 women at the school in 1989, warned on Thursday that a Conservative government in Ottawa would gut whatever remaining restrictions exist on firearms in Canada.

“In terms of its record, the (Conservative) party, its leader and its members are totally aligned with the gun lobby,” PolySeSouvient co-ordinator Heidi Rathjen told reporters. “We don’t believe for a second (Conservative leader Erin) O’Toole’s disingenuous and opportunistic about-face on assault weapons.”

Read our full story.

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7:30 p.m.

Bernier’s party expels official for throwing gravel at Trudeau

From the Reuters news agency:

The small right-wing People’s Party of Canada (PPC) expelled one of its local officials on Thursday over allegations he threw gravel at Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week, a party spokesman said.

Trudeau was hit by a handful of gravel on Monday, television images showed, while campaigning in London, Ontario, ahead of the Sept. 20 election. He was making his way back to his campaign bus past a crowd shouting their opposition to COVID-19 vaccines.

London police said they were investigating, but have not announced any charges. PPC spokesman Martin Masse confirmed in an email that Shane Marshall had been removed as president of the PPC’s Elgin-Middlesex-London constituency association.

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Masse gave no further details. Marshall could not immediately be reached.

People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier, a former minister of foreign affairs and industry, founded the populist PPC in 2018 after narrowly losing his bid for the leadership of the main opposition Conservative Party.

In 2019, the PPC won only 1.6 per cent of the national vote and failed to get a seat in parliament, but an Ekos poll this week has the PPC at 9 per cent. Bernier, who calls himself a “limited-government conservative,” has been drawing vocal crowds as he campaigns against pandemic lockdowns and vaccine mandates.


7:15 p.m.

Spreading misinformation and disinformation: Trudeau blasts far-right site Rebel News

A Federal Court of Canada ruled yesterday that the far-right site Rebel News should be accredited to this week’s federal debates.

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Several of the site’s representatives asked questions at last week’s post-debate press conferences.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh refused to answer.

But Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took the opportunity to blast the site.

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6:30 p.m.

In 2019, the Liberals narrowly outpaced the Bloc in Quebec

There are 338 seats in the House of Commons, 78 of which are in Quebec.

Here are the Quebec results of the last election – on Oct. 21, 2019 – by party:

  • 35 Liberal
  • 32 Bloc Québécois
  • 10 Conservative
  • 1 NDP

And here are the national results by party

  • 157 Liberal
  • 121 Conservative
  • 32 Bloc Québécois
  • 24 New Democratic Party
  • 1 Independent

6:30 p.m.

A look back: Leaders have faced off in two debates in French over the past week

Leader of the federal parties participate in the federal election French-language leaders debate, in Gatineau on Sept. 8, 2021.
Leader of the federal parties participate in the federal election French-language leaders debate, in Gatineau on Sept. 8, 2021. Photo by POOL /REUTERS

If you missed the first two debates (both of which were in French), check out my live blogs:


6:30 p.m.

Quebec Premier François Legault has a federal election shopping list

In making public what has become a tradition for Quebec premiers — a shopping list of demands in federal election campaigns — Premier François Legault last week resumed his quest to increase the federal share of health care funding in Quebec from 22 per cent to 35 per cent.

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Read our full story, by Philip Authier.


6:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 is election day, with advance polls set to open tomorrow – here’s how to vote

Elections Canada, an independent agency that organizes federal elections, is assuring voters that they will be able to vote safely in the midst of the fourth wave of COVID-19.

The Montreal Gazette has put together a guide to voting in the election.

Here are some key links from Elections Canada:

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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ariga@postmedia.com

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