[lg policy] Canada: Trudeau, Mulcair reviewing participation in leaders’ debate on foreign policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Wed Sep 16 15:49:32 UTC 2015

 Trudeau, Mulcair reviewing participation in leaders’ debate on foreign

Allison Jones

The Canadian Press

Published Monday, Sep. 14, 2015 7:29PM EDT

Last updated Monday, Sep. 14, 2015 10:15PM EDT


*The Globe and Mail is hosting a debate on the economy among the leaders of
the three main political parties on Thursday at 8 pm (ET). Click here
for more details.*

The Liberal and NDP leaders are reviewing a final Munk Debate proposal
before they formally accept the foreign affairs debate, but the language
rules may prove to be a sticking point.
Globe and Mail Update Sep. 10 2015, 12:19 PM EDT Video: What topics to
expect during the Globe's leaders' debate

Both Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair have made their participation in all of
the national election debates conditional on having an equal number in
French and English.

There will be two debates in each language, so the leaders say they agreed
to the Munk Debate on the understanding it would be bilingual.

But the Munk Debates never committed to hosting a bilingual debate, said
moderator and chair of the Munk Debates, Rudyard Griffiths. The NDP
accepted the invitation to participate in an English-only debate then later
asked that it be bilingual, he said.

“We responded to their request and pledged that the debate would have
bilingual components,” Griffiths said in an interview. “At no point in any
written or public communication did we agree to host a bilingual debate.”

Then the Liberals also expressed concern about the level of French content,
Griffiths said. The final proposal for the Sept. 28 debate at Toronto’s Roy
Thomson Hall is to allow each participant to speak in either language with
simultaneous translation.

“We’re not the Official Languages Commission,” Griffiths said. “We’re the
Munk Debates. But our feeling is that a debate structured in that way,
similar to how French and English are used in the House of Commons, should
legitimately satisfy the parties’ request for a bilingual debate.”

But it’s not yet clear if that will meet Mulcair and Trudeau’s conditions.
The leaders have until noon Tuesday to officially accept the debate

“We are trying to understand exactly what Munk is proposing, it seems quite
complex,” Mulcair said late Monday. “We are going to study it.”

The Conservatives said Stephen Harper will participate.

“We confirmed the debate first and are happy to debate our policy
regardless of the language,” said Kory Teneycke, principal adviser to the
Conservative campaign.

Trudeau said Monday morning in Toronto before the final proposal was sent
to the leaders that he hoped it would be 50-50 English and French.

“The discussion over debates in this country has been an entertaining one
to watch but also a very frustrating one for Canadians and for everyone
involved,” he said.

“The only condition we put out on debates is that, Canada being an
officially bilingual country, we feel there should be as many debates in
French as in English.”

The Liberals did not respond to a request for comment as to whether the
final proposal satisfies Trudeau’s condition.

The Munk Debate will be broadcast in French and English via CPAC and online.

There will be six major segments, beginning with a question from the
moderator to one of the leaders. That leader will have up to ninety seconds
to answer, followed by a one-on-one debate with another leader for about
seven minutes. The third leader — if all three agree to participate — will
join the debate for about five minutes.

The five main party leaders will take part in a French-language debate
Sept. 24 at the Radio-Canada studios in Montreal.

Harper, for his part, has rejected the traditional debates run by a
consortium of the major broadcasters. He has also agreed to a Sept. 17
Calgary debate sponsored by the Globe and Mail and Google Canada and a
French-language debate on Quebec’s TVA network on Oct. 2.

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