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

The debate, done entirely in French, was the last of the federal election.

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On Friday night, Canada's main political leaders faced off in French for the last debate of the federal election.

Joel Lemay / The Canadian Press

The leaders used the debate, hosted by TVA, to hammer home their parties' policies one last time, all while attempting to appeal primarily to voters in Québec.

Here are the highlights.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper battled it out on marijuana, with Trudeau claiming that the prime minister is putting children at risk by forcing them to buy their weed from drug dealers.

Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

Trudeau, whose Liberals say they'll legalize marijuana, said Canadians smoke weed, so it only makes sense to regulate it.

Harper, in response, said "it's a reasonable policy" to go after drug dealers, and questioned how selling marijuana next to tobacco and alcohol in stores would make kids safer.

Harper also criticized Trudeau for his past inhalations.

Harper: "Mr. Trudeau, you've touted your past marijuana use." LIKE SOME KIND OF OUT-OF-CONTROL MANIAC.

Trudeau declared his undying love for Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe...

...not really though. Whilst engaged in a passionate debate over Canada's new anti-terror laws, Trudeau accidentally called the Bloc leader "mon amour" ("my love") instead of, perhaps, "my friend."

After the debate, Trudeau made sure to publicly patch things up with his wife.


Ne t'inquiète pas Sophie... C'est bien toi #MonAmour.

"Don't worry, Sophie...You're definitely #MyLove."

TVA host Pierre Bruneau used a recent mass shooting in Oregon to ask the leaders about Canadian gun control.

Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

He pointed out that many in Québec still disagree with the Conservatives' abolition of the long gun registry, which Harper said was "inefficient." He said Canada is very different from the United States when it comes to gun control.

Trudeau shot back by accusing Harper of having ties to the American and Canadian gun lobby, and blamed that relationship for Canada being the only NATO country that has yet to sign a new arms treaty.

The contentious issue of pipelines — specifically Energy East, which would cut through Québec — elicited some fiery responses from the leaders.

Joel Lemay / The Canadian Press

Harper responded first by rejecting the premise of Bruneau's question, which suggested the Conservative government's approach to pipelines has failed. "I appreciate the question but it's completely false," Harper said.

Meanwhile, Duceppe accused NDP Leader Tom Mulcair of supporting Energy East — a pipeline the Bloc leader said will be bad for the environment and was planned without the input of First Nations. Mulcair denied the accusations, saying the NDP would create a better evaluation process for such projects. And, like in past debates, he used the opportunity to talk about his time as Québec's environment minister.

Seeing as the debate was in Québec, where the niqab issue is more popular, it occupied a solid portion of the discussion. Two of the leaders expressed frustration at the issue getting so much time, though.

Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

Mulcair, whose party opposes banning the niqab from citizenship ceremonies, told Harper he was entering dangerous territory by focusing on one cultural community for political gain. “It’s unbecoming of a prime minister,” Mulcair said.

Harper repeated previous statements about the ban, saying the niqab is oppressive to women — despite the courts having already struck the ban down.

Mulcair said his party would never use taxpayer money on banning the niqab at citizenship ceremonies, to which Harper rebutted by pointing to a handful of NDP candidates who've expressed support for the ban.

"Nobody here is pro-niqab," Mulcair said, adding that the issue is with protecting individual rights.

The leaders also accused Harper of waiting until an election to address the niqab issue.


Trudeau also tried to get Harper to talk about abortion, a subject the Conservative leader hasn't wanted to touch with a 10-foot pole.

Trudeau claimed it was hypocritical for Harper to make the niqab argument in favour of women's rights when more men in his caucus than the two women who've opposed the ban are anti-choice. Trudeau asked Harper to share his personal views on abortion.

As always, though, Harper simply said it was not a discussion he wished to re-open.

Emma Loop is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. PGP fingerprint: 4A39 DD99 953C 6CAF D68C 85CD C380 AB23 859B 0611.

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