Ontario’s major party leaders are set to square off against each other in early June.
Despite the province’s election campaign having begun nearly two weeks ago, negotiations around the timing and format of the leaders’ debate are still under way. However, sources in two parties told The Globe and Mail that the debate will likely happen on Tuesday, June 3 – nine days before voters go to the polls.
While debates typically happen closer to the midpoint of the campaign, the parties and the consortium of broadcasters that will carry the debate appear to have struggled to find a date, in part because of the National Hockey League playoffs.
It has not yet been determined whether there will also be a debate specifically focused on Northern Ontario, as there was in the province’s last campaign. Only Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and the NDP’s Andrea Horwath participated in that event, with then-premier Dalton McGuinty taking a pass. However, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne has expressed enthusiasm for joining a northern debate this time around if one can be scheduled.
It does not appear that Ms. Horwath will get her wish for more than one regular debate. Sources have indicated that setting aside the willingness of the other leaders, the major television networks that form the broadcast consortium are reluctant to pre-empt regular programming and advertising for more than one evening.