This past Monday saw the third federal leaders’ debate, this time with foreign policy on the agenda. Barbs were thrown from all angles on issues ranging from the delayed Keystone pipeline to federal refugee policies. And while there was no overwhelming winner, once again several non-electoral platform issues were the most mentioned on social media during the debate.
One of the most talked-about foreign policy-related topics during the debate, the anti-terror Bill C-51 (mentioned 941 times amongst the 37k tweets containing the hashtag ‘#munkdebate’), led to one of the biggest moments of the evening when NDP leader Thomas Mulcair compared Bill C-51 and the War Measures Act (which had been instituted when Trudeau’s father was Prime Minister).
Trudeau responded by saying how proud he was to be the late Pierre Trudeau’s son, which brought about sustained applause from the audience at Roy Thomson Hall.
This, combined with the 15th anniversary of the former Prime Minister’s death, lead to an eruption in social media, with “Pierre Trudeau” receiving almost 1.2k mentions on Twitter during the debate.
The above exchange also contributed to the Liberal Leader receiving the vast majority of social media attention, leading the way amongst all party leaders with more than 12k debate-related tweets.
Just like the previous Globe and Mail debate, however, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May continued to make her voice heard. She held another forum on Twitter, virtually inserting herself into the fray to considerable effect: following #C51, #VoteGreen was the next-highest mentioned hashtag.
May’s electronic attendance also influenced party mentions: though her handle, @elizabethmay, was last amongst federal leaders her party’s handle—@canadiangreens—was a close third, just behind @thomasmulcair.
Though news this week indicated Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have regained the lead, there’s still no overwhelming frontrunner ahead of the final French language debate set for Friday. But as long as federal leaders are willing to try anything to get ahead—even to say their party’s policies are somehow responsible for panda pregnancies—I guess we’re just going to have to grin and bear this campaign a little bit longer.