On Thursday night, the leaders of the major political parties in Canada gathered for the first of their debates, but one podium stood glaringly empty. While Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May all stood ready to face-off against one another for the first time since the campaign season has officially started, the Liberal podium was very clearly missing a leader.
Justin Trudeau has made it clear from the beginning that he would not be taking part in the Maclean’s/CITY TV debate, making their decision to include his empty podium even more … awkward. The Prime Minister confirmed earlier this month that he would only be attending the official debates next month, as well as the French debate hosted by TVA.
However, as Thursday night’s leaders’ debate opened up, it was clear that Maclean’s/CITY TV were keen to make sure the Prime Ministers absence didn’t go unnoticed, as an empty podium stood to remind everyone that somebody was definitely missing.
Canadians were quick to notice the potentially deliberate dig at Justin Trudeau, noting that it was a bold move from the producers of the debate to keep the podium empty.
Taking to Twitter to mention the lonely podium, one Canadian watching the debate wrote, “Maclean's/Citytv twisting the knife a bit leaving the empty podium on the stage.”
Another added a similar sentiment, writing, “Love the subtle shot Trudeau with the empty podium for not showing up to the #firstdebate.”
While several Twitter users did appreciate the ‘gutsy’ move by Maclean’s/CITY TV, a number of others took the opportunity to call the producers out, noting that Trudeau’s empty spot could have been given to Maxime Bernier, the People’s Party of Canada leader.
One Twitter user wrote, “Hey MacLean's, what do you have against the PPC? Why isn't Bernier who is much more competent than Elizabeth May, allowed at the debate. Trudeau left his podium, let Max take it.”
Another shared a similar sentiment adding, “This empty podium could have gone to the other running candidate Maxime Bernier after Trudeau announced he would be skipping a majority of the leader debates. They’re ignoring Bernier instead."
If you’re waiting patiently to see Justin Trudeau standing at a podium to debate (in English), you’ll have to hang on until October 7, when he will join the rest of the party leaders for the English debate at 7 p.m.