The financial crisis in the United States has forced the economy to the forefront of Canada's televised leaders' debates.
Broadcast executives yesterday rewrote the format of tonight's French-language debate and tomorrow's English-language event to allow the five politicians more time to discuss the fallout from the financial storm that has been pummelling stocks and financial markets.
The decision to devote more time to what has become the key issue in the election came after the Conservatives appealed to the broadcast consortium that runs the debates to reserve an hour – instead of 12 minutes – for the economy.
The New Democrats and the Green party endorsed the request, and the consortium agreed to set aside the first 30 minutes for the economy.
Gone are the opening and closing statements by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Green party Leader Elizabeth May.
"Given recent events in the global economy and its impact on Canada the economy has become a paramount issue," the consortium said in a statement.
"In addition, the moderators will take advantage of the flexibility built into the debate format to allow for more time to be devoted to this important issue."