Five notable moments from the French-language leaders' debate
TORONTO -- As the six federal party leaders met in Gatineau, Que., for the official French-language debate, it was their last chance to make their mark on a national stage before election day.
Here are five notable moments from the final federal leaders’ debate:
During a segment on environment and energy, the leaders were divided into two groups of three to respond to the moderator’s questions.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer and People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier were joined together for a question on bringing a pipeline through Quebec.
Singh, notably the only one of the three who is adamantly against building pipelines in Canada, launched a quip deriding both leaders:
“I think I can sum the situation up here for viewers: this is Mr. Pipeline and this is Mr. Pipeline too, and Mr. Trudeau, I’m not so sure, but I’m Jagmeet Singh, I will never force a pipeline on Quebec -- that is clear.”
Later in the debate, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet made a dig at the Trudeau government for spending billions to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline but not enough money to give all First Nations clean drinking water.
BERNIER ONCE AGAIN DENIES CLIMATE EMERGENCY
While Green Party Leader Elizabeth May stated several times during the debate that the planet is under a climate emergency and urgent action is required, Bernier once again denied such an issue.
When asked why he ignores the scientific consensus on climate change and instead refers to a handful of fringe reports on climate change, Bernier reiterated that more climate research needs to be conducted before a conclusion can be made.
“We shouldn’t propagate fear about an emergency that doesn’t exist,” he said. “It should be grounded in truth and reality. There should be more studies and there are some studies on the impact of the sun on climate change. Most of the studies to date have been on the impact of CO2 and Ms. May is right, they are the Paris targets, but unfortunately, they will destroy the economy.”
TRUDEAU SLAMS FORD OVER FRANCOPHONE CUTS
When asked about services the federal party leaders would provide to Francophone Canadians, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took the opportunity to slam Ontario Premier Doug Ford over cuts to Ontario’s French-speaking people.
Notably, Ford axed plans for a French-language university in the Greater Toronto Area in 2018, though support for the project has re-emerged. Ford also downgraded Ontario’s independent watchdog on French-language services.
“You’ll remember, like me, what Mr. Ford has done since he’s came to power. He’s cut services to Francophones even though he said he’s going to help that community when he was going to be elected,” Trudeau said.
“He said he was going to be ‘for the people,’ but he made cuts. We have defended Francophone minorities in Ontario and across the country and we will continue to do that.”
POWERFUL QUESTION ON ASSISTED DEATH
A woman with multiple sclerosis was among the Canadians who had a chance to ask the leaders a question during the debate. She told them she is in serious pain and suffers from bed sores. She asked the leaders about the Quebec court decision on assisted dying and whether the leaders support the judgment, which said the existing law is too restrictive.
In their answers, all leaders thanked the woman for sharing her story and shining a spotlight on the issue.
Debate moderator Patrice Roy told the woman she is very courageous, and she received applause from the audience as the segment wrapped up.
BLANCHET DESCRIBES HIGH-SPEED RAIL AS ‘SASQUATCH’
When asked about a maligned high-speed rail line between Quebec City and Toronto, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet compared the project to a mystical beast.
“That train is the Sasquatch, it’s a yeti, we always speak about it, but never see it,” he said. “I don’t think that train is going to depart anytime soon.”
In July, a report from Via Rail revealed the project would cost $4.4 billion, but would make more financial sense if it axed the $1.14-billion stretch from Montreal to Quebec City.
With files from The Canadian Press