Federal leaders face off in final debate of the election campaign

Federal leaders face off in final debate of the election campaign

Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet will likely find himself on the defensive Thursday

Six federal political leaders are set to face off in the final scheduled debate of the 2019 election campaign.

Thursday night’s event is a French-language rematch of the officially sanctioned English debate on Monday, also at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.

It is also the last time the leaders will present themselves to Canadians together before advance polls open Friday morning.

Voter surveys suggest the two previous televised debates gave a boost to the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, but didn’t move the needle for the front-running Liberals and Conservatives.

Quebec voters remain volatile and all six parties are counting on picking up support in the province as part of their respective paths to victory.

The re-emergence of support for the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec was dismissed by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Thursday.

While his party appears to be losing ground to the BQ, Singh said the NDP is far better placed to work with the rest of Canada to deliver on major promises.

READ MORE: Tories to release platform on Friday, Singh sets terms for NDP minority support

Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet will likely find himself on the defensive Thursday, though, as the Conservatives as well had been hoping to court some of his party’s voters to shore up their seat count in Quebec.

But leader Andrew Scheer was widely considered to have taken the hardest hit in Quebec after the previous French-language debate put on by television network TVA, and though his aides had been bullish on Tory chances in the province, they’ve now dialled back that enthusiasm.

The TVA debate did not feature Green Leader Elizabeth May, who arrived for Thursday’s event saying she was looking forward to it.

“I always have the same strategy: Listen to the questions and give an honest answer,” she said in French on her way into the museum.

People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier was also shut out of the TVA debate but will join the group Thursday. The English debate Monday saw the other five leaders gang up on his stance against increasing immigration to Canada.

While he has managed to win some support for his nascent political movement across the country, he is also fighting hard to hold onto his seat in Quebec.

When asked on his way in to the event whether he was concerned about losing it, he laughed and said “just watch me.”

The riff on former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s line comes as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was expected to take quite a bit of heat during Thursday’s event. Scheer has previously said he had wanted more time in the last debate to go directly after the prime minister.

Thursday’s debate was to feature five themes: economy and finances, environment and energy, foreign policy and immigration, identity ethics and governance and services to citizens.

Ahead of the debates, the Conservatives and Liberals had sought to energize their respective supporters by taking jabs at each other.

The Liberals released new ads on Thursday that took aim at Scheer, hoping to deflect from scrutiny of Trudeau himself with the Liberal leader saying in one ad that Scheer “wants you to think this election is about me — I think it’s about you.”

The Conservatives fired back on Facebook with a video urging Trudeau to fire former cabinet minister and Toronto candidate Judy Sgro, who told a radio station that her black constituents in Toronto told her they loved Trudeau even more after learning he wore blackface. Sgro has apologized.

Trudeau has likewise apologized for wearing brownface and blackface, which he says he now understands to be racist, after a series of images of him from 2001 and the 1990s rocked his campaign last month.

Mindful that he might end up having to support either one of those parties in a minority Parliament, Singh laid out some conditions earlier Thursday for doing so.

His terms largely matched his campaign platform — national pharmacare and dental care programs, more affordable housing, eliminating interest on federal student loans, a tax for the super-rich and action on climate change.

But he added a new item: changing the way the country votes.

Electoral reform is an especially sore spot for the Liberals, who promised that the 2015 election would be the last under the traditional first-past-the-post electoral system, only to scuttle the recommendations of the committee they put together to examine the issue.

Singh’s NDP backs a system of mixed-member proportional representation, which advocates say better reflects the will of voters as expressed in the popular vote. Singh said the issue is about “giving power back to people.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Helping Hands of Terrace sorting facility was completed in November 2020. Phase two added a second shipping container and a roof, meaning that multiple people can sort recyclables at one time. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
VIDEO: Inside Helping Hands of Terrace’s sorting facility

Phase two of the facility was completed late last year

Kitselas Administration office. (Kitselas First Nation website photo)
Kitselas First Nation candidates announced for June 10 election

Over three dozen candidates vying for position of one chief councillor and six council members

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

Crew works on the Howe Creek Trail broad walk near the northeast corner of Christy Park.
Howe Creek Trail repair work under progress

Residents asked to avoid using trail near the northeast corner of Christy Park

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Meghan Gilley, a 35-year-old emergency room doctor and new mom was vaccinated from COVID-19 in January, while she was pregnant. She’s encouraging others to do the same. (Submitted)
‘The best decision’: B.C. mom encourages other pregnant women to get COVID-19 shot

Meghan Gilley, 35, delivered a healthy baby after being vaccinated against the virus while pregnant

Most Read