The leaders of Canada’s main federal parties are facing off tonight for the official French-language leaders’ debate of the election campaign.
You can watch a translated, live stream of the debate at the top of this page.
The participants in tonight’s debate are Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet.
The debate opened with a question from moderator Patrice Roy about the prospect of another snap election if this vote results in another minority government.
Trudeau would not commit to respecting a four-year interval between elections, while O’Toole said he “absolutely” would.
WATCH: Trudeau and O’Toole speak about the prospect of another snap election
Trudeau, O’Toole on what they would do if minority government is electedDuring the first exchange of the official French-language leaders’ debate, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau respond to a question about not calling another snap election if a minority government is formed. 2:16
Singh later criticized Trudeau for calling the election, calling it an “egotistical” decision.
“Why did you call this election?” Singh asked Trudeau. “It made no sense to do this.”
Trudeau, O’Toole spar over mandatory vaccines
Discussions about Canada’s handling of the pandemic, vaccinations and public health care dominated the early stages of the debate, with the leaders largely re-stating their established positions.
On mandatory vaccinations, Trudeau said restrictions that bar non-vaccinated people from travelling, going to restaurants and working in some workplaces have been effective measures to promote vaccination.
“Yes we need to inform, but we also need to demonstrate that it’s in [Canadians’] interest to be vaccinated,” Trudeau said.
O’Toole accused Trudeau of politicizing the issue of vaccines and said a Conservative government would promote vaccinations while using other tools, such as rapid COVID-19 tests, for people who are not vaccinated.
“The middle of a pandemic is not the time to have an approach of division,” the Tory leader said.
O’Toole was also pressed about his stance on public health care and the prospect of Canadians paying for access to some health services.
“I appreciate our public and universal system,” he said in response.
Child care plans
Trudeau also defended the Liberal plan to invest billions in Canada’s child care system with the goal of creating spaces and reducing fees. O’Toole’s party plans to honour the Trudeau government’s initial investments in child care, but he said a Conservative government would move toward a system of tax credits to help parents pay for child care.
“Inspired by Quebec, we will create 250,000 spaces across the country, and Mr. O’Toole wants to scrap all of that,” Trudeau said.
Blanchet thanked Trudeau for complimenting Quebec’s system, which has subsidized rates of $8.50 per day, and said the system is proof that Quebec is well-equipped to operate its own system.
Paul interjected shortly after, noting that she is the only woman on stage and should have a chance to speak about child care issues.
WATCH: Annamie Paul on the child care plans
Paul says male party leaders should ‘let a woman speak’ on child careGreen Leader Annamie Paul says she would have liked to see more child-care deals made before an election was called. 0:41 The format of tonight’s debate
The leaders are debating the following predetermined topics:
Climate Cost of living and public finances Indigenous peoples, cultural industries and cultural identity Justice and foreign policy The pandemic and health care
The official leaders’ debates are organized by The Leaders’ Debates Commission, a non-partisan and independent organization.
People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was not invited to participate because the commission determined that his party did not have the required level of voter support — four per cent — five days after the date of the election call. Recent polling figures suggest the PPC has since overtaken the Greens in national support.