The leaders of Canada's three official parties will square off over key economic issues on Sept. 17 in a federal election debate hosted by The Globe and Mail.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have each confirmed they will take part in the prime-time debate. David Walmsley, The Globe's editor-in-chief, will act as moderator.
The event will be broadcast live from Calgary's Stampede Park, beginning at 8 p.m. ET, through the paper's website and mobile apps, and also on two separate YouTube channels. CPAC will also carry television coverage in both official languages.
Multiple election debates are in the making as the traditional dominance of the process by a consortium of TV broadcasters has been challenged in the lead-up to this year's campaign. Other print and broadcast outlets have joined forces with social-media companies YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to pitch their own events with varying topics and formats, ahead of the Oct. 19 election.
The Globe invited the leaders of political parties with official status in the House of Commons. The first half of the 90-minute debate will cover five central themes on the economy: Jobs, energy and the environment, infrastructure, housing and taxation. The second half leaves time to look more closely at the leaders' earlier answers, and to pose questions sent in by voters.
"We chose to host this debate in Alberta as it represents the story of the year, both politically and economically," Mr. Walmsley said. "Who predicted the provincial NDP victory and Conservative defeat in Alberta? What is the price of oil going to mean for this country? Hosting this event is a natural extension of our role as Canada's leading destination for business news. We look forward to a rigorous discussion between party leaders."
The Globe debate will take place in front of a live audience of journalists, party members, academics and business leaders. It will be bookended by preshow and postshow panel discussions with political and economic experts, hosted by political reporter Jane Taber.
Facebook, Twitter and Google will provide real-time polling and analytics, and viewers can submit their concerns and thoughts about the economy using The Globe and Mail's online form or by using the hashtag #GlobeDebate on social media.
The first major debate of the lengthy campaign will be held on Thursday, organized by Maclean's magazine and Rogers Media. The magazine's political editor and columnist Paul Wells will play host, and it will air on the City network and CPAC, a suite of AM radio stations, in multiple languages on Omni stations, and by live stream across various Rogers-owned websites, on Facebook and YouTube.
The consortium's Oct. 8 debate – made up of the CBC, CTV and Global networks – is in jeopardy, with the Conservatives refusing to take part and Mr. Mulcair saying last week that he will not attend any debate that Mr. Harper skips. A French language square-off a day earlier, both planned to air on TV and online, is also threatened by the Harper-Mulcair standoff.
In rejecting the consortium debate, the Conservatives have cited concerns ranging from the restrictive format to the vetting of audience members, and say they are in favour of "innovation" in formats, perhaps in pursuit of more opportunities for one-on-one exchanges between the leaders.
Critics have suggested the Conservatives are looking to spread and dilute the debate audience so the party can target blocks of voters. The consortium insists it offers the widest possible reach, claiming more than 10 million viewers tuned in to the English-language debate, and more than four million to the French version, in 2011.
The consortium said in a statement last month that its invitation to the Conservatives to participate is still open.
The Munk Debates is planning a debate on foreign policy, and French network TVA will play host to a televised debate covering general topics on Oct. 5. Huffington Post Canada, Twitter Canada and Samara Canada have jointly proposed their own debate, as well.
Editor's Note: The original print version of this article and an earlier digital version incorrectly said the Munk School of Global Affairs is planning on hosting a debate. In fact, it's the Munk Debates. This digital version has been corrected.