Former CBC journalist and executive director Michel Cormier was appointed as head of operations for the Canadian Debates Commission.
The body will be in charge of overseeing the leaders’ debates preceding the upcoming October 2019 election. Currently there are only two debates being planned by the commission.
The “Leaders’ Debates Commision” was announced by the Liberal government on October 30th, 2018 and its intended goal is to “make the debates a more predictable, reliable, and stable element of federal election campaigns.”
Among its mandates, the commission requires that parties meet specific criteria to be eligible for inclusion in the debates. Two of the three following requirements must be met for any party wishing to participate in the leaders’ debates hosted by the commission:
- Must have a sitting member in the House of Commons at the time when the election is called
- Must be considered to endorse candidates in at least 90% of electoral districts
- Based on history and polls, the party must have a legitimate chance to be elected in the election
Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould made the announcement recently before the procedure and House affairs committee. According to Gould, the appointment was not made by her but by former Governor General David Johnston, who has been named the commissioner of the deciding body.
Alongside the commissioner, a seven-member advisory board will manage the commissions’ affairs.
Conservative Critic for Democratic Institutions Stephanie Kusie has called the commission an attempt to control the scope of the leaders’ debates.
“Essentially what this is doing, this is silencing Canadians.” said Kusie shortly after the commission was announced.
According to Minister Gould, Cormier will have the position until March 2020.
For his role, Cormier will be paid an executive-level government salary possibly ranging in the $161,500 and $190,000 range.
The Liberal government intends to allocate $5.5 million to the commission.
After the debates, the commission is tasked with providing the federal government with a report on recommendations for a more permanent government fixture to oversee all future leaders’ debates.