09/12/2019 23:10 EDT | Updated 09/13/2019 13:02 EDT

Federal Leaders Said 'Trudeau' 50 Times During Trudeauless Debate

The Liberal leader wasn’t there, but his presence loomed large.

During the first federal election debate on Thursday night, Elizabeth May, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh duked it over issues ranging from climate change to Israel to U.S. president Donald Trump.

They disagreed on many points, but on one topic they were all united: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

In fact, the current prime minister’s name was invoked at least 50 times, according to our debate transcript.

50! With the total debate spanning around 104 minutes, that’s a “Trudeau” every two minutes. 

That’s a lot of time to spend talking about a guy who wasn’t even there.

Canadian Press
A composite image showing Justin Trudeau at a rally on the left. On the right, Elizabeth May, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh shake hands before the first leaders debate.

Trudeau chose to forgo the debate and spent the night at a campaign rally in Edmonton. But his ears must have been burning, because, and I will repeat this, his name was mentioned 50 times!

For comparison, “climate” was mentioned 24 times. 

“Economy”? 16 times. 

And those were both topics in the debate!

Trudeau’s name was often invoked with a gesture to the empty podium left for the absent leader. It was brought up in reference to his policies, campaign and track record. Moderator Paul Wells mentioned it. Panellists mentioned it. It trended on Twitter. He was quite literally, the man of the hour. 

We’ll have to wait until the official commission debates next month to see whether or not the Liberal leader will dominate the conversation when he’s actually in the room.

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