Expect Plenty of Cross Talk During Debate: Windsor Prof


All six federal party leaders are in Ottawa for an English-language debate that could shake up a federal election campaign.

This is the first debate featuring all six leaders on stage together in a campaign that's seen little change in the polls.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, the two front-runners, both have events in Ottawa Monday morning ahead of the debate.

The NDP's Jagmeet Singh and the Greens' Elizabeth May appear to be fighting for third place, with both looking to make gains especially on the West Coast.

The Bloc Quebecois' Yves-Francois Blanchet has little to gain or lose in front of a national audience primarily of English-speakers, while the People's Party's Maxime Bernier is counting on the national debates to introduce himself as a populist alternative to the major parties.

This is the first of two debates taking place this week in a theatre at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, with a French-language debate scheduled for Thursday.

Political Science Professor at the University of Windsor Lydia Miljan says Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has the most to lose as he will be defending his record.

But she says during the recent French language debate, Trudeau did well and most of the attacks were levelled at Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Given that all six leaders will be part of the debate and there are five moderators, Miljan isn't sure how much Canadians will hear from each individual leader.

"I'm expecting a lot of cross talk, expecting a lot of noise," says Miljan.  "I'm a bit anxious about the debate just because I really wonder whether or not, we are going to get to hear what the parties have to say."

Miljan says most Canadians know what the parties stand for, so this is more about how the leaders perform.

"The planks of their platform have been out, they have been campaigning, this is more about personality, this is who do you like best and how do they handle themselves under pressure."

AM800 will broadcast tonight's debate live from 7pm to 9pm. We will also air a special post debate show from 9pm to 11pm.

The federal election is October 21st.

With files from the Canadian Press