08/07/2015 12:58 EDT

Federal Leaders Debate: I Won, Says Every Party Leader

Maybe that's because the experts seem to agree: no clear winner.

OTTAWA — All of the party leaders were winners in the kickoff election debate — at least, according to the leaders themselves.

The four political parties who duked it out Thursday have issued the customary flurry of news releases claiming their respective leader triumphed in the initial exchange of views, sponsored by Maclean's magazine.

Maybe that's because the experts seem to agree: no clear winner, no proverbial knockout punches.

Under questioning from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared to acknowledge the country is enduring a mild economic recession.

Asked about that today in Richmond Hill, Ont., Harper insisted 80 per cent of the Canadian economy is growing — only the energy sector is shrinking due to falling oil prices.

Harper says Mulcair would raise taxes, indulge in out-of-control spending and introduce permanent budget deficits.

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Photo gallery Best Quotes From Maclean's Canada Election Leaders' Debate See Gallery