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OTTAWA — The first debate of the federal election campaign drew a much smaller audience than the debut square-off among leaders in 2015.

Rogers Media says 1.6 million Canadians tuned in Thursday night for the Maclean’s/Citytv debate — fewer than half the 4.3 million who tuned in for the first debate of the last election.

The drop in viewers may be due to the fact that, as moderator Paul Wells noted, Thursday’s debate featured 25 per cent fewer leaders.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau gave the debate a pass, preferring to rev up party faithful at a rally in Edmonton.

That left three opposition leaders — the Conservatives’ Andrew Scheer, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh and the Greens’ Elizabeth May — to debate among themselves.

Trudeau has committed to participating in just three debates: the official French and English debates and another organized by Quebec’s TVA network.



The Canadian Press

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