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Leaders’ Debates Commissioner David Johnston issues decision on participation criteria for 44th General Election

August, 21 2021 – Ottawa (Ontario)

Commissioner David Johnston has invited the leaders of five political parties to participate in the upcoming leaders' debates taking place at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Québec on Wednesday, September 8 (French) and Thursday, September 9 (English).

The Leaders' Debates Commission based the decision on the participation criteria set on June 22, 2021.

Leaders of the following political parties are invited to participate in both debates:

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

In order to be invited to participate in the leaders' debates, the Commissioner decided that a leader of a political party had to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Criterion (i): on the date the general election is called, the party is represented in the House of Commons by a Member of Parliament who was elected as a member of that party; or
  • Criterion (ii): 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
  • Criterion (iii): five days after the date the general election is called, the party receives a level of national support of at least 4%, determined by voting intention, and as measured by leading national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations' most recently publicly-reported results.

On Monday, August 16, 2021, Commissioner David Johnston sent letters to the Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party of Canada, Green Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada and New Democratic Party inviting them to participate in the two leaders' debates.

The five parties all qualified under criterion (i) and criterion (ii).

On Friday, August 20, 2021, no additional political parties qualified under criterion (iii).

In making the above determination, the Commission selected polls that:

  • were completed and released in the window from 9 days before to 5 days after the issuance of the writs;
  • were conducted by public opinion polling organizations that are either members of the Canadian Research Insights Council or are providing public opinion data to major media organizations, using the polling organizations' most recent publicly-reported result;
  • reported explicit information about the support level for the party;
  • were conducted on a nationally representative sample of at least 1,000 respondents; and
  • publicly released methodological information sufficient for verification of the integrity of the poll, including question wording for the vote choice question(s), fielding dates, and details on sample size, weighting criteria, and survey mode.

The Commission did not consider internal party polling or polls commissioned by a political party.

The polls used to make the determination within the 14-day timeframe are:

  • Abacus Data (August 18, 2021)
  • Angus Reid Institute (August 19, 2021)
  • EKOS Research Associates (August 20, 2021)
  • Forum Research (August 15, 2021)
  • Innovative Research Group (August 18, 2021)
  • Ipsos (August 17, 2021)
  • Leger (August 17, 2021)
  • Mainstreet Research (August 20, 2021)
  • Nanos Research (August 13, 2021)

The Commission determined which political parties had an average support level equal to or exceeding 4% (unrounded) of decided voters across at least two polls.

The poll results for criterion (iii) are as follows:

Party Name Average Level of National Support Polls included to determine average, and percentage received in each
People's Party of Canada 3.27%
  • Abacus (3.5%)
  • Angus Reid Institute (3.5%)
  • EKOS Research Associates (5.2%)
  • Forum Research (5.2%)
  • Innovative Research Group (3.0%)
  • Ipsos (0.7%)
  • Leger (2.4%)
  • Mainstreet Research (4.0%)
  • Nanos Research (1.9%)
Maverick Party 0.7%
  • Angus Reid Institute (0.9%)
  • Innovative Research Group (0.5%)

The Commission made these decisions following its request for and receipt of advice from a Polling Advisory Group convened by Professor Peter Loewen. The group of experts are André Blais, Claire Durand, Allison Harell, Richard Johnston, Daniel Rubenson, and Laura Stephenson, in addition to Dr. Loewen.

For the final decision rationale, please refer to Party leaders that meet participation criteria for the Leaders' Debates for the 44th General Election.

For the decision rationale of criterion (iii) published on August 16, 2021, please refer to Participation Criterion (iii) Approach for the Leaders' Debates for the 44th General Election.

This information is available on the Leaders' Debates Commission's website under 2021 Participation Criteria.


Participation criteria for the 44th General Election – June 22, 2021
Invitation letter to the Bloc Québécois
Invitation letter to the Conservative Party of Canada
Invitation letter to the Green Party of Canada
Invitation letter to the Liberal Party of Canada
Invitation letter to the New Democratic Party
Order in Council P.C. 2019-1381


Chantal Ouimet
Director of Communications

About the Leaders' Debates Commission

The Leaders' Debates Commission is an independent and impartial public body. Its mandate is to organize two leaders' debates for the next federal general election, one in each official language, while paying special attention to Canada's Indigenous languages. The Commission is also responsible for engaging a debates producer, setting participation criteria and determining which political leaders are invited to participate in the debates, as well as working with the debates producer to develop a format that reflects the public interest, while respecting journalistic independence.

Twitter: @debates_can / @debats_can

Date modified: August 21, 2021