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'Up For Debate' Event To Pick Up Where Cancelled Women's Issues Debate Left Off

09/21/2015 06:05 EDT | Updated 09/23/2015 07:59 EDT

The long-awaited women’s issues debate with four of the federal party leaders is happening tonight, albeit without the actual debate.

Video interviews with four of the federal party leaders will be the focus of discussion for two panels of feminist experts and media at the Up For Debate event Monday evening at University of Toronto’s Isabel Bader Theatre.

Quebec journalist Francine Pelletier spoke with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair on issues related to gender justice, social issues, violence against women and gender representation in leadership roles. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper declined to participate.

Clips of the interviews will be shown in two segments to the audience and panels, who will comment and discuss the leaders' responses to questions from Pelletier.

The sold-out event will be live captioned, and streamed online by The Toronto Star and Le Devoir. Twitter will be covering the debate on Periscope.

More than 30 years have passed since the last debate on women's issues in 1984, and tonight’s panel follows a Chatelaine Q&A series with four party leaders, including Harper, which were published after Up For Debate’s organizers were forced to cancel their original debate in August, after Harper declined and Mulcair backed out.

Up For Debate, a coalition of more than 100 women’s groups, drove the national conversation on the lack of engagement with female voters. Their petition of more than 50,000 signatures asked party leaders to engage in a nationally televised debate on women's issues.

Canadians got a glimpse through the Chatelaine interviews of how federal parties would approach issues including child care, missing and murdered indigenous women, and reconciling internal party opinions on abortion and same-sex marriage.

The most recent debate, broadcast on Youtube, pitted Mulcair, Harper and Trudeau against each other on economic policies. May, who was not invited, took on a shadow debate on Twitter, where she lambasted opponents’ for only mentioning women once and ignoring women-specific economic issues.

Comedian and writer Jess Beaulieu will host the revised Up for Debate event, with Maclean’s writer Laura Payton as moderator. Among the panellists providing analysis on the leaders' responses are The Huffington Post Canada’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj and First Nations lawyer Katherine Hensel.

In the lead-up to the event, the organizers have released short video clips of party leaders answering questions from Twitter users.

To watch the Up for Debate discussion:

Live: Isabel Bader Theatre at the University of Toronto, doors open at 6 p.m. and event starts at 7 p.m. Live-captioning is available.

Online: Livestream on The Toronto Star and Le Devoir. Twitter will be covering the debate with Periscope.

Conversation: Follow the hashtags #UpForDebate on social media. @UpforDebate2015 will live-tweet, and follow Althia Raj's commentary at @althiaraj

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