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First face-to-face political bout of the election takes place with Citytv, Maclean's debate tonight

Last Updated Sep 12, 2019 at 9:49 am PDT

Summary

Three of the four main party leaders square off tonight in the Maclean's, Citytv debate

Justin Trudeau has declined to attend the debate, which is the first face-to-face political bout of the campaign

You can catch the debate on our website, on Citytv, and on the Maclean's website

TORONTO (NEWS 1130) – The federal election campaign is just a day old and leaders are already being put to the test in the first debate of the campaign, being hosted by Citytv and Maclean’s tonight.

Three of the four main party leaders are squaring off for the bout, which you can watch at 5 p.m. PT on our website, on Citytv or at Macleans.ca.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, and Elizabeth May of the Greens will be going toe-to-toe on four main themes: the economy, energy and the environment, foreign policy, and Indigenous issues.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has declined to attend, and moderator Paul Wells says that gives his opponents an opportunity.

“He’s ensured that any one of them could gain hugely from our debate,” he explains. “Justin Trudeau has left the night wide open for Andrew Scheer, Elizabeth May, and Jagmeet Singh to make their case.”

It also gives the leaders an opportunity for free attacks over issues like climate action, pipelines, and scandals like the SNC-Lavalin affair — and Trudeau won’t be able to defend himself on the spot.

Aside from the expected Trudeau-bashing, Communications Expert Allan Bonner, who has coached leaders of different parties for debates, explains Scheer and Singh will have to show some personality since they’re still fresh faces for many voters.

“How do they walk, talk, and chew gum? Do we want to see this person in our living rooms, on tv, for the next four years?” Bonner notes.

He adds there may be a lot of political jabs as the leaders try to state their case to voters, but says it’s rare to see that one line that wins the debate.

“Most boxing matches don’t end up in a knock out in an early round,” Bonner says.

He explains Thursday’s debate will also be a chance for Singh and May to duke it out for disaffected Liberal voters.

“You have to say ‘I am the right protest vote.'”