Hockey Forces Date Change for Canadian Election Debate

April 11, 2011 Updated: March 5, 2012

TORONTO—In Canada, hockey beats politics every time, or so it would seem. A consortium of Canadian broadcasters were forced to reschedule one of only two election debates between the leaders of the four main parties due to a scheduling conflict with the playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.

The leaders of the Conservative, Liberal, Bloc Québécois and New Democratic parties were to face off against each other in a French-language debate on Thursday, but will instead match wits and words Wednesday so they don't have to compete against the national pastime.

The Bloc Québécois (BQ), a Francophone party that only runs candidates in Quebec and is founded on the principle that the province should form its own country, requested the change of date and the other parties agreed.

Canadians are notorious for their love of hockey and are especially disinterested in general elections in recent years, as they go to the polls for the third general election in five years. Voter turnout was at a historic low for the last election in 2008.

Depending on how this election goes, another could follow soon after. Or there could be a quick switch of the governing party due to an unusual characteristics of Canada's parliamentary tradition. 

The Conservatives won the most seats in the last election, but still less than 50 percent, so it ruled as a minority government. They were brought down March 25 when the other three parties voted against them on a confidence motion, triggering an election. If the same scenario were to happen soon after a general election, the governor general, Canada's official head of state, can ask the party with the second highest number of seats to form the government.

Canada sees five major parties contend each general election, though the Green Party has yet to win a seat in the House of Commons, despite scoring nearly a million votes in the 2008 election.