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Mandate and roles

What is the Leaders’ Debates Commission?

The core of our mandate at the Leaders’ Debates Commission is twofold. First, organize two leaders’ debates for the 2019 federal general election—one in each official language. Second, prepare a report to Parliament, following the 2019 debates, outlining findings, lessons learned, and recommendations.

We aspire to make the debates a more predictable, reliable, and stable element of federal election campaigns. We want open, transparent leaders’ debates that reach a broad cross-section of Canadians.

To date, we have consulted with close to 40 subject-matter experts on issues such as accessibility, inclusivity, civic engagement, debate format and journalistic standards.

We have met with major political parties and media organizations to ensure a healthy, symbiotic, and stable relationship as we move forward in our planning process.

We have issued a request for proposal (RFP) for a “debates producer” an organization (or group of organizations) who will organize, produce, promote and distribute the French and English debates. We expect the RFP to close May 30th, and hope to announce the debates producer mid-June.

Moving forward, we will work – according to our mandate – to determine the eligibility of party leaders to participate in the federal debates.


Organize two leaders’ debates for the 2019 federal general election – one in each official language.


  • Select and establish a seven-member Advisory Board;
  • Enter into a contract for the production of the debates;
  • Ensure the debates are broadcast and distributed widely and free of charge;
  • Ensure the debates reach as many Canadians as possible, including those living in remote areas, those living in official language minority communities and those living with disabilities;
  • Engage with political parties and ensure that the criteria for participation of political parties in the debates be applied fairly and in full transparency;
  • Engage with Canadians to raise awareness about debates;
  • Ensure the debates are conducted under high journalistic standards; and
  • Following the 2019 general election (and no later than March 31, 2020), provide a report to Parliament outlining findings, lessons learned, and recommendations to inform the potential creation in statute of a “built to last” Debates Commission


Our day-to-day activities and decision making are guided by the pursuit of public interest, principles of independence, impartiality, transparency, creditability, democratic citizenship, civic education, inclusion and cost effectiveness. We encourage participation and engagement from all Canadians.

Date modified: November 5, 2020