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Newly formed Leaders’ Debates Commission moves forward with mandate

Press Release

OTTAWA, March 22, 2019 – Debates Commissioner David L. Johnston announces today the members of the Advisory Board for the Leaders’ Debates Commission, an important step forward for the new entity.

The seven members, along with Commissioner Johnston and Executive Director Michel Cormier, will meet for the first time on Monday, March 25, 2019 to discuss plans for the 2019 leaders’ debates in October.

The Advisory Board composition is mandated to be reflective of gender balance and Canadian diversity and to represent a range of political affiliations and expertise. Board members will be guided by the pursuit of the public interest and by the principles of independence, impartiality, credibility, democratic citizenship, civic education, inclusion and cost-effectiveness.

Advisory board members include:

  • Dr. Chad GaffieldDistinguished University Professor, University of Ottawa, President, of the Royal Society of Canada
  • The Honourable Deborah GreyFormer Reform MP, first female Leader of the Opposition
  • Mr. Craig KielburgerSocial entrepreneur and the co-founder of WE Charity
  • Mr. Jean La RoseChief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
  • Ms. Megan LeslieChief Executive Officer, World Wildlife Fund Canada, former Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition (NDP)
  • The Honourable John ManleyFormer deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Cabinet Minister and Chief Executive Officer of Business Council of Canada
  • The Honourable Louise OtisPresident of the Administrative Tribunal of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, President of the Administrative Tribunal of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie

To date, the Commission has consulted with close to 40 subject-matter experts on issues such as accessibility, inclusivity, civic engagement, debate format and journalistic standards. The Commission has also met with major political parties and media organizations to ensure a healthy, symbiotic, and stable relationship moving forward in the planning process. This consultation process will continue throughout the mandate to engage and conduct outreach with a representational variety of Canadians.

The Commission’s next step will be to issue a request for proposal for an organization (or group of organizations) to organize, produce, promote and distribute the French and English debates. This request for proposal is anticipated to go out in May of this year.


“We will be working to establish an open transparent dialogue with political parties, stakeholders and media organizations to deliver the debates Canada deserves.”   
– Commissioner David L. Johnston

“As we move forward we will keep the public interest paramount, remain independent and non-partisan, operate with transparency, and be a source for insightful, accurate and unfiltered information.”
– Executive Director Michel Cormier

Mandated by The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, the core of the Leaders’ Debates Commission mandate is twofold. First, organize two leaders’ debates for the 2019 Federal General Election—one in each official language. Second, prepare a report to Parliament, following the 2019 debates, outlining findings, lessons learned, and recommendations.

For further information: (for media only): Jill Clark, Senior Communications Advisor, Leaders’ Debates Commission, [email protected]


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