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Invitation letter to the Conservative Party of Canada

August 12, 2019

The Honourable Andrew Scheer
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Dear Mr. Scheer,

On behalf of the Leaders’ Debates Commission, I hereby invite you to participate in the two leaders’ debates we are organizing during the upcoming federal election campaign. Your party satisfies two of the three participation criteria outlined in our Order in Council. As you have submitted to the Commission, your party has sitting members in the House of Commons elected under its banner and received more than 4% of the general vote in the 2015 federal electionEndnote 1.  The Commission has made this determination based on the evidence you provided in your submissions, which the Commission accepted, and on your party’s record in previous general elections. 

The two debates will be held in the National Capital Region.  The English debate is scheduled for Monday, October 7 and the French debate for Thursday, October 10. The venue will be announced shortly by the debates producer. We would like your representatives to reserve some time later this week for a first meeting with representatives of the producer. The meeting will be held in Ottawa. Parties that do not qualify for the debates will not be invited to these meetings with the producer but will join discussions if and when they satisfy the participation criteria. Since the format and the substance of the debates are prerogatives of the producer, the Commission will not participate in meetings between the parties and the producer. The choice of moderator or moderators, themes, questions, time management will be left to the producer of the debates.  The Commission, however, will be briefed regularly on negotiations and preparations for the events.

The producer was chosen through a request for proposals. We are delighted with their proposal and believe the debates will have an unprecedented scope, reaching Canadians on a variety of different platforms and being available to Canadians with disabilities and minority language groups.  The wide distribution will be supplemented by a public outreach campaign that aims to create interest and engagement of Canadians in the debates.

As of today, the Commission has determined that five parties qualify for the debates: Bloc Québécois, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party of Canada. The first four parties 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. Parties who do not yet qualify will have until September 9, 2019, to submit information to the Commission. The Commissioner will then decide by September 16, 2019, the final list of leaders who will participate in the debates. We believe this provides a fair balance. It gives parties time to make their case for participation while also providing sufficient time for other parties and the producer to prepare for the debates. A full briefing note on the Commission’s interpretation of the participation criteria is attached for your consideration.

The Order in Council requires that we make public this invitation as well as your response to it. The Leaders’ Debates Commission is looking forward to your participation in these debates, which represent a fundamental and essential feature of Canadian democracy.

Sincerely, David Johnston

Date modified: September 10, 2019