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Mandate and roles

What is the Leaders’ Debates Commission?

The Commission is an independent and impartial public body created by Order in Council P.C. 2018-1322 ("OIC") on October 29, 2018.

Its core 2018 mandate was twofold. First, to organize two leaders' debates, one in each official language, for the 2019 federal general election and second, to prepare a report to Parliament following the 2019 debates, outlining its findings, lessons learned and recommendations.

On November 5 2020, the Commission's mandate was amended by Order in Council P.C. 2020-871 ("OIC").


  • Organize two leaders' debates for the next federal general election, one in each official language, ensure they are available in languages other than French and English and pay special attention to Canada's Indigenous languages;
  • Engage a debates producer and ensure the debates are of high quality;
  • Set participation criteria, ensure that the leader of each political party that meets those criteria is invited to participate in the debates, and make these participation criteria public;
  • Work with the debates producer to develop a format that reflects the public interest, while respecting journalistic independence, and provide final approval;
  • Ensure the debates are distributed free of charge, reach as many Canadians as possible, including those living in remote areas and those living with disabilities;
  • Engage in public outreach to raise awareness about debates; and
  • Prepare a report to Parliament following the next federal general election, outlining findings, lessons learned, and recommendations.


The Commission aspires to make debates a more predictable, reliable and stable element of federal election campaigns.


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


David Johnston

Michel Cormier
Executive Director 

Advisory Board

  • Dr. Chad Gaffield
    Distinguished Professor, University of Ottawa, former President of the Royal Society of Canada
  • The Honourable Deborah Grey
    Former Reform MP, first female Leader of the Opposition
  • Mr. Jean La Rose
    Former Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)
  • Ms. Megan Leslie
    President and Chief Executive Officer, World Wildlife Fund Canada, former Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition (NDP)
  • The Honourable John Manley
    Former deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Cabinet Minister and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Business Council of Canada
  • The Honourable Louise Otis
    President of the Administrative Tribunal of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), President of the Administrative Tribunal of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)
  • Mr. Abdullah Snobar
    Executive Director, DMZ and Chief Executive Officer of DMZ Ventures & Zone Startups

Date modified: Jun 17, 2021