Up for Debate


Up for debate panel
1984 was the last time federal party leaders had a debate on women’s issues. Since then, women’s issues and gender equality have been woefully absent from the debate and political discussion.

This year, 175 women’s and social justice organizations, including Unifor, thought it was time for another debate. So formed ‘Up for Debate’ – a national call for a debate on women’s issues and gender equality in Canada. 

When federal party leaders failed to agree to a debate, organizers changed gears and found a new way to hold the leaders’ feet to the fire.  What resulted were a series of filmed interviews with party leaders, led by long-time Montreal journalist and feminist Francine Pelletier.

Clips of the videos were presented at a jam-packed September 21 event in Toronto, along with two panels of women commentators, moderated by Macleans journalist Laura Payton. The event was hosted by activist and comedian Jess Beaulieu.  

The first panel featured Central Toronto Community Health Centres Executive Director Angela Robertson, civic engagement advocate Alejandra Bravo, aboriginal lawyer Katherine Hensel, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives researcher Kate McInturff who critiqued the leaders interviews and took on a range of related topics such as poverty, affordable housing, decent wages, racism, access to abortion services, child care, missing and murdered aboriginal women, sexism and sexual harassment, particularly in the House of Commons.

The second media panel featured Huffington Post political reporter Althia Raj and Toronto Star social justice reporter Laurie Monsebraaten, where the women compared party platforms and the parties various announcements.

The event was livestreamed on the websites of the Toronto Star in English and Le Devoir in French. In addition to the conversation in the room, there was also a lively online discussion on Twitter, using #UpforDebate. 

Find the interviews with leaders here: http://upfordebate.ca/campaign-news

On Twitter, look for #UpforDebate or @UpforDebate