Throughout Wednesday night's French federal election debate one question continued to be raised: Why is Canada having an election now?
The evening started off with a question for each party leader around, if they won a minority government, if they would respect the four-year term and not call a snap election, opposed to what Justin Trudeau has moved forward with this year.
Trudeau defended his decision, maintaining that Canadians deserve to choose how the country should move forward out of the pandemic.
You deserve a choice, because the government you elect will make those decisions in the fall, not a year or two from now. You have important choices to make.Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party leader of Canada
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul all agreed to keep the next government in power.
The pushback towards Trudeau, related to the timing of this election in the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, repeatedly came up throughout the debate, including from the NDP Leader who called the move "selfish" and done so Trudeau can obtain "more power."
Who won the debate? Yahoo Canada readers vote O'Toole as top pick
With Trudeau and O'Toole essentially neck and neck in the polls, some will be looking to see if this week's debates will move the dial further one way or another. Yahoo Canada readers voted throughout the debate and selected the Conservative leader as the 'winner' of the showdown.
Following debate, the Conservative leader defended his ability to be Canada's next Prime Minister. O'Toole highlighted that he is "very experienced" from serving in the Canadians Armed Forces, working as a private sector lawyer and previously serving as Minister of Veterans Affairs. He said he is even more prepared to be the next prime minister than Trudeau and stressed that Canadians deserve a leader with a plan.
Trudeau clashes with Blanchet on being a 'proud Quebecer'
While some may have anticipated that the most heated moments from the debate would be between the Liberal and Conservative leaders, it was actually an exchange with Trudeau and Blanchet that got the most contentious.
Trudeau stressed that he is a "proud Quebecer" and that Blanchet does not have a "monopoly" on Quebec, after the Bloc Québécois leader suggested that Trudeau essentially tries to tell Quebec what to do.
Following the debate, Blanchet stressed that people in Quebec vote to elect the only legislative party to speak on behalf of the province, and that is the National Assembly of Quebec.
Trudeau, also after the debate, when asked about the exchange, stressed that all 78 Quebec MPs are "proud" Quebecers.
#DébatDesChefs - Les chefs répondent à la question de Charles Leduc : Que comptez-vous faire pour diminuer l’utilisation des énergies fossiles au Canada?#DébatDesChefs #elxn44 pic.twitter.com/5D8uj08jtV
— Radio-Canada Info (@RadioCanadaInfo) September 9, 2021
11-year-old steals the debate spotlight
One of the more insightful questions in the debate actually came from 11-year-old Charles, who asked what each leader plans to do to reduce the use of fossil fuels in Canada, expressing concern about his future, and the future for his children.
Seeing 11 year old Charles Leduc ask about his future w the #climatecrisis brought tears to my eyes
Canada spends $18B/yr supporting fossil fuel industry
Trudeau Libs buy pipeline $4.5B (now $12.5B)
BC NDP subsidies = $1B/yr
Alberta Cons r pro oil sands#Elxn44 #Leadersdebate pic.twitter.com/BWPnSfujcD
— Jim Harris (@JimHarris) September 9, 2021
Trudeau stressed that the Liberals are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and all cars will be electric by 2035, and O'Toole promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs.
Singh stressed that the NDP will eliminate subsidies to the oil and gas sector while Blanchet highlighted that Canada does not have a goos track record when it comes to climate change.
Good job, Charles. Nice to see an 11 year old asking a room of political candidates about their platforms on the environment. I’d have really liked a beleaguered nurse or physician to ask about healthcare. How do we swing that? #Elxn44 #debatdeschefs #cdnpoli
— Nili Kaplan-Myrth MD PhD (@nilikm) September 9, 2021
Following the debate, the Green Party leader spoke about the young boy asking such an important climate question.
"I would tell the people of Canada, I know that it’s complicated, I know that it’s very technical terminology when it comes to climate, but I think that everybody has an intuition that something’s not working after decades of targets that we don't achieve, after really the worst record in the G7, there’s something that’s not working," Paul said.
"We shouldn't let our future be left in the hands of the same old parties that put us in this position"
Child care system up for debate
During the debate, Trudeau attacked the Conservative plan for child care. The Liberal leader said O'Toole "doesn't understand" the Quebec daycare system, stressing that his promised tax credit system will not be effective, particularly for low-incomes families.
"His decision to rip up $30 billion worth of childcare investments...,250,000 spaces across the country, $10 a day for families, which isn’t just a social program that’s good for families and kids but also an essential driver of exactly the economic recovery we’re gong to need as we recover form the pandemic, demonstrates that he’s simply not there," Trudeau said following the debate.
"We will have a lot to say about the weak leadership and the weak plan for the future that’s actually laid out in this so-called costing over the coming days…. Once again, he’s pretending to be the kind of leader that Canadians want but when you actually scratch the service and look into what he’s actually committing to, what his promises actually are, you see that he’s just busy trying to mislead Canadians."
Paul, the Green Party leader, also wanted to jump into the child care debate, particularly as a woman, when women are most impacted by child care policies. She posited that if there were more women representing Canada's federal parties than it may not have taken decades to implement an effective system.
Following the debate, when asked if she thinks daycare being viewed as a "women's issue" is one of the reasons why it isn't viewed as a priority issue, the Green Party leader agreed.
"I do believe that the lack of women at the very highest levels of politics absolutely has an impact on what is prioritized," she said. "We have seen, throughout this pandemic, that women have been particularly disadvantaged."
"Often when women are involved, their priorities are de-prioritized. When I talk about bringing more diversity to politics this is exactly what I mean. It would change the things that we talk about, it would change the urgency with which we act."
Canada's official languages
Taking a question from a voter, each party leader was asked whether they would support the inclusion of Indigenous languages as among Canada's official languages.
While the proposal got support from the Blanchet, Singh and Paul, O'Toole said that it is "possible" to have services in Indigenous languages.
Additionally, Trudeau touted the fact that the federal government has worked to develop an official status for Indigenous languages.