• CA Election 2015 badge

Everything You Need To Know About What Happened At The Second Canadian Leaders' Debate

Three of the country's political leaders duked it out in a lively, often incomprehensible exchange.

Three of Canada's main political leaders took part in an aggressive debate on the economy Thursday evening in Calgary, Alberta.

The most controversial moment of the night came when Stephen Harper used the term "old stock Canadians" in a debate on refugee policy.

View this video on YouTube


Harper was talking about refusing certain health treatments to refugee claimants who are rejected.

"I think that's something that most new, and existing, and old stock Canadians agree with," said Harper.

This sparked immediate controversy online. Critics alleged Harper was sending a dog whistle message that "old stock" meant white people.

Others interpreted the remark to mean any people who have been in Canada for a long time, regardless of race.

Harper was the only leader who refused to face the media after the debate, so there was no chance to ask him about the remark.

Strangely enough, the phrase "old stock Canadian" is almost never used to refer to the First Nations.

Mulcair and Trudeau accused Harper of "fear-mongering" over the refugee issue.

There was lots of arguing over whether Canada should run a deficit.

Harper admitted that things aren't exactly perfect. “I’ve never said things were great,” he said (twice), but then asked: In what country would you have rather been during the 2008 recession?

Trudeau was extra aggressive, and often set his sights on Mulcair. The Liberals and NDP are fighting over the sizable anti-Harper vote.

Moderator Walmsley asked the leaders how they'd deal with the fact that millennials are having a really hard time affording real estate.

Harper responded by saying that his government was providing tax cuts to make things easier on everyone. One of those cuts is for home renovation.

Mulcair mocked Harper for responding to skyrocketing housing prices with a tax credit: "How do you renovate a house you can't afford to buy in the first place?"

There was a big debate over whether Canadians should be paying more into the Canada Pension Plan.

Harper has repeatedly referred to increased CPP premiums as a tax increase. He argues that because they're money taken off of a worker's paycheck they amount to a tax hike.

Trudeau fired back: "Pensions are not taxes." Increased CPP contributions will ultimately lead to higher payouts.

Mulcair agreed, and said he sees increasing the amount Canadians pay into the national pension plan as "an investment," not a tax hike.

Mulcair was asked about how Canadians can trust the NDP considering they've never formed a federal government. He replied by invoking Tommy Douglas. A lot.

We have a proud history of helping families get ahead & living within our means. It’s who we are. #NDP #GlobeDebate

"Tommy Douglas took over the province of Saskatchewan that was in bankruptcy after Liberal rule, ran 17 consecutive balanced budgets and brought in medicare," he said.

Being that the debate was set in oil country, and that falling oil prices are affecting Canada's economic health, the leaders got feisty when asked about energy and carbon taxing, too.

Trudeau said his plan is to work with provinces to get emissions down.

But Harper said that a carbon tax is essentially just more revenue for the government, and that the energy sector "needs a government that is on its side."

Mulcair accused Harper of relying entirely on the oil patch for his economic plan. "You put all your eggs in one basket and you dropped the basket," he said.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who wasn't invited to participate in the debate, still contributed by live-tweeting during the event.

The @globeandmail isn't asking about productivity. Let's talk about it anyway. #elxn42 #GlobeDebate

The debate got mixed reviews for its hectic, free-form style. In the end, even politicians were skeptical.

The real question: was it worth missing Shania for this? #GlobeDebate