Skip to content

Leaders’ Debates Commission invites parties to 2019 debates

August 12, 2019 – Ottawa, ON

Today Commissioner David Johnston has extended invitations to the leaders of five political parties to participate in the federal leaders debates on Monday October 7 (English) and Thursday October 10 (French). This is based on the Leaders’ Debates Commission’s interpretation of the participation criteria set out in its mandate.

As of today, leaders of the following parties have been invited:

  • Bloc Québécois
  • Conservative Party of Canada
  • Green Party of Canada
  • Liberal Party of Canada
  • New Democratic Party

The mandate stipulates that parties must fulfill two of three criteria in order for their leader to be invited to participate in the debates. The criteria, as outlined in section 2 (b) Order in Council P.C. 2018-1322 are:

  • Criterion (i): the party is represented in the House of Commons by a Member of Parliament who was elected as a member of that party;
  • Criterion (ii): the Commissioner considers that the party intends to endorse candidates in at least 90% of electoral districts in the general election in question;
  • Criterion (iii):
    1. the party’s candidates for the most recent general election received at that election at least 4% of the number of valid votes cast;  or,
    2. based on the recent political context, public opinion polls and previous general election results, the Commissioner considers that candidates endorsed by the party have a legitimate chance to be elected in the general election in question.

The Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada and New Democratic Party qualify because they elected members in the House of Commons and received 4% of the vote in the 2015 election. The Commission concludes that the Green Party of Canada qualifies for participation in the debates because it has at least one elected sitting member and has satisfied the Commission that it intends to field candidates in 90% of the ridings.

The Commission has not yet made a decision about whether the People’s Party of Canada satisfies enough criteria to be invited.  The party was not in existence during the last federal election and this precludes the People’s Party of Canada from qualifying under criteria (i) and (iii)(a). The party must therefore demonstrate to the Commission that it satisfies the two remaining criteria.

With respect to criterion (ii), the Commission concludes that the People’s Party of Canada satisfies the condition that requires fielding candidates in 90% of the ridings.

With respect to criterion (iii)(b), at this time, the Commission has not yet seen sufficient evidence to conclude that the People’s Party of Canada has a legitimate chance of electing more than one candidate in the next federal election.

The Commission will consider further evidence submitted by parties who don’t currently qualify. Parties have until September 9, 2019, to submit information. The Commission will publish a final list of invited parties by September 16th, 2019. 

The Commission has described its decision making process in a document titled “Interpretation of Participation Criteria for the Leaders’ Debates” and in a series of letters issued to six political parties. They are available on the Leaders’ Debates website, under “Participation Criteria”.


About the Leaders’ Debates Commission

The core of the Leaders’ Debates Commission mandate 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 for the future of the Leader’s Debates Commission

Twitter: @debates_can
Instagram: @debatesdebats_can
Facebook: Leaders’ Debates Commission Canada


Contact for media only

Jill Clark
Senior Communications Advisor
Leaders’ Debates Commission
(613) 943-5766

Date modified: August 12, 2019