Broadcast Consortium Plans Federal Leaders’ Debates

Parliament of Canada

OTTAWA – The road to October’s federal election continues. “The leaders’ debates have served as important moments of every federal election campaign during which they have been presented”, said the Chair of the Broadcast Consortium, Jennifer McGuire. “It’s important that Canadians across the country, in both French and English, have an opportunity before they cast their vote, to see Party leaders, live and face-to-face, debate the future direction of the country”.

The Broadcast Consortium – CBC News, ICI Radio-Canada Télé, CTV News and Global News in a press statement say they are pleased to learn that Canada’s political parties are willing to participate in multiple debates.

“Canada’s major broadcast news organizations believe that it is in the best interest of democracy in Canada to expose as many Canadians as possible, across the country, to our potential leaders debating issues of concern. The broadcast networks remain committed to organizing debates for the upcoming 2015 Federal Election. These debates, airing on Canada’s major television networks and distributed to other broadcast and digital partners, will reach millions of Canadians, right across the country, in French and in English, during the height of the campaign.

“The broadcasters support the political parties in their right to consider other debates. The Consortium has never viewed itself as a monopoly. Historically, the broadcasters came together when the political parties in Canada limited their participation in debates during busy election campaigns.

“As a public service, Canada’s major broadcasters come together to make sure that the debates are exposed to as many Canadians as possible airing on all the networks. In addition to the core Consortium group which produces the debates, the debates historically have been distributed to other broadcasters, again, ensuring wide access to Canadians”.

The broadcast debates presents a key opportunity for the greatest number of Canadians to collectively see the leaders address current issues. The major broadcasters also believe that Canada’s key broadcast journalists, such asPeter Mansbridge, Lisa Laflamme, and Dawna Friesen, bring considerable interview and journalistic skills which would give insight to the campaign that would be unparalleled. During the 2011 Leaders’ debates, over 10 million Canadians tuned in the English-language debates; and over 4 million Canadians watched the French-language debates offered by Canada’s major television networks during prime time and on the web. With new partners and innovations, the broadcasters expect this number to grow.

The Consortium members are of the aspirational view that the political parties have the same goals in mind and will give equal consideration to this debate offer. Invitations were sent to representatives of the Conservatives Party ofCanada, the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party of Canada, the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois (French-language debate only) to participate in the debates as organised by the broadcast networks. There is a meeting scheduled in Ottawa next week.


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