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Brush up on your French: Federal leaders to square off in last debate of election campaign

Federal party leaders Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh pose for a photograph before the Federal leaders debate in Gatineau, Que. on Monday, October 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

The federal party leaders are getting ready to square off in the final debate of the election campaign


Political scientist expects a lot of attacks in the French-language debate as leaders try to get an edge before the vote


Political scientist says unless something major happens during the debate, he doesn't expect it to impact the polls much


GATINEAU, Que. – Federal party leaders are squaring off tonight in the final debate of the election campaign.

The six main leaders will be battling in the French-language bout which is being hosted by the official Debate Commission. It’s expected to be much of the same as we’ve seen over the past few weeks.

On Monday, leaders took the stage for an English-language debate, filled with bickering and cross talk.

Related article: What body language can tell us about the federal party leaders post-debate

However the power dynamics will be different. Duane Bratt, a political scientist with Mount Royal University, explains Maxime Bernier with the People’s Party of Canada and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet may be more of a force.

Bratt also notes Conservative Andrew Scheer struggled in the first French debate because of his language skills.

“And if he has a second bad performance, it could hurt him even more,” Bratt explains.

He expects Scheer and his frontrunner rival, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, to go head to head several times, and believes there will be a lot of attacks as party leaders look to get an edge in the key battleground of Quebec.

Related article: Canada election: A look at the 2019 federal party leaders

But Bratt says unless something major happens, this likely won’t have an impact on the polls.

“Most debates, despite the hype, don’t matter,” he says. “Unless something major happens, I don’t think it’s going to have an impact, at all.”

He says what will matter more is Thanksgiving dinner this weekend, when family discussions turn to politics and many voters firm up their decision.

“That’s when they’re going to ignore TV ads, and debates, and social media, and actually talk to one another,” Bratt explains. “So there’s a lot of conversations that will be held at the Thanksgiving table about the election.”