Tonight Matters

By the time the leaders clash in televised debates, Canadian federal elections are usually already decided. Voters’ minds are made up and the debate doesn’t change anything. This year is different.

After squaring off twice in French, finallly the party leaders will spar with each other tonight in an election that all polls indicate is too close to call. Many voters are undecided, and will make their election day decision based on what they see tonight.

The pressure is on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, whose popularity has been dropping each day of the campaign. He needs a stellar performance to reverse the slide, but can he do it?

His “sunny ways” mantra has devolved into incrisingly strident personal attacks on his opponents. His smugness when speaking, his holier-than-thou demeanor may be wearing thin with Canadians as he has been overexposed to the public during this pandemic. And that isn’t even taking into consideration the myriad scandals, both personal and governmental, that may be brought up during the course of the debate.

Conservative Erin O’Toole entered the campiagn relatively unknown to Canadians, having won the leadership during the pandemic. For many this debate will be a formal introduction, and I expect him to do well.

O’Toole, as I have observed him, is more comfortable with retail politics than his precdecessors were, and his policies are more mainstream than those of past Conservatives. When Trudeau attacks him he will probably just laugh and suggest such attacks are absurd and a sign of Liberal desperation.

Jagmeet Singh is not running tobe Prime Minister, but he may have a shot at his NDP forming the official opposition. In 2019 I thought he was the clear winner of the leaders’ debate.

He would have won me over if his party’s policies were viable. He will do well once more, something the Liberals probably fear most as they would be expected to pick up progressive votes if he stumbles.

Green Party leader Annamie Paul is fighting for her political life. Her fractured party isn’t fielding a full slate of candidates. She lost an MP to the Liberals in the spring. Her party executive tried to oust her in July. Her campaign has been invisible.

While O’Toole may not have been well know to Canadians, he at least has some recognition from his days as a cabinet minister in the last Conservative government. Paul is a complete unknown. However, as the only woman in the debate she may manage to make an unexpected impact.

If she doesn’t, expect her to be gone by September 21. And her party may be gone with her.

The English-language debate is always a lot of fun for Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet. He truly has nothing to lose. His party is only running candidates inside Quebec, and with its separatist agenda it doesn’t do well in English speaking areas. Blanchet will be a persistent mosquito, attempting to draw political blood from all his opponents.

Missing from the debate will be Maxime Bernier, whose People’s Party was disqualified because it has never elected a candidate. If the polls are correct, it won’t in 2021 either.

I’ll be watching tonight. It should be fun. Things get underway at 9 p.m. EDT. You can watch the livestream at if the link at the start of this post doesn’t work.



  1. One of the proportionately representative systems; there are a few.

    Does it not bother you that even the political parties’ leadership races are decided by (I believe it is) a ranked-choice ballot system, that typically results in multiple counts? Are not we, the commoners, also worthy of such democratically representative choice? Worthy of not potentially having 15-20 percent of the nation’s populace deciding how we all are 100-percent ruled?

    The first-past-the-post electoral system, in its usual form, barely qualifies as democratic rule within the democracy spectrum, though it seems to serve corporate interests well. I believe it is basically why powerful money interests generally resist attempts at changing from FPTP to proportional representation electoral systems of governance, the latter which dilutes corporate lobbyist influence. Canadian governances (and American, for that matter) typically maintain thinly veiled yet strong ties to large corporations, as though elected heads are meant to represent big money interests over those of the working citizenry and poor. Accordingly, major political decisions will normally foremost reflect what is in big business’s best interests. But don’t expect to hear this fact readily reported by the mainstream news-media, which is concentratedly corporate owned. …

    There’s much more to say on this topic, but I’ll refrain, if that’s okay.

    1. There is indeed much more to say, and perhaps I’ll do a series on the options. All democratic systems have weaknesses and can be influenced by special interests. I’ll save the examples for another time.

      Ranked ballots on leadership races are a television thing.

      1. Believe it or not, when it comes to big-business friendly thus favoured electoral systems, FPTP makes it the easiest for corporate lobbyists to manipulate or ‘buy’ governing officials, especially in Western borderline-corporate-rule nations like Canada (and the U.S.).

        It’s because a relatively small portion of the country’s populace/electorate is represented in FPTP-elected governments, in regards to votes/voters and government accountability to them. A much more proportionately representative electoral system should create a greater challenge for the lobbyists; the resultant government, which much more proportionately represents the electorate as a whole, should be considerably harder for big business to control — if at all, in some cases.

        As for ranked ballots in leadership races being for television-audience purposes, it may be; but I believe it’s for political power/control and big money interests.

  2. I find Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives to not be genuinely conservative but rather a money-first party with little or no stances on the major social issues for which they once stood. Thus, to me, they seem to stand for not much other than big business, finance and maybe a balanced budget.

    Not surprising, whenever I look at the vote-tally numbers after election day, the Conservatives seem to win by the center-left electorate dividing their votes amongst two or three mainstream center-left parties that are allowed in the televised debates. For this we can credit our First Past The Post electoral system, which barely qualifies as democratic rule within the democracy spectrum.

    Nor do I find the Liberals to be truly liberal. They also pander to corporate objectives and the rich, albeit while maintaining their traditional liberal social policies, notably those involving race, gender and sexuality.

    Apparently, politically potent and focused big business interests get catered-to regardless of which of these two parties rules.

    1. Some good points there.

      Canada’s Conservative Party is a “big tent” structure, a mix of social conservatives. fiscal conservatives, libertarians, populists and others. O’Toole is a fiscal conservative, leaning more to the left on social issues than most in the party. Which probably increases his appeal to those who think themselves “progressive.”

      I have a fondness for the first past the post system, having seen what can happen in other countries using different methods of deciding who governs. That doesn’t mean I am happy with the outcome, but at least I can accept it as being a reasonably fair and honest process.

      What would you suggest would be better – and why?

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