All five of the main party leaders will participate in a French-language debate Thursday night in Montreal. Here are five themes to watch for during the event.


1. Attacking 'top dog' Mulcair

With the NDP taking 59 of 75 seats in Quebec in the last federal election, and the New Democrats polling ahead there during this campaign, expect all of the other party leaders to focus their attacks on NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

"Tom Mulcair is top dog in Quebec, he has the most seats, and I do think he'll be blessed with the attention of his opponents as a consequence," former Liberal communications director Scott Reid told CTV's Canada AM.

Reid said that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, in particular, will be looking to capitalize on their apparent growing support in Quebec.


2. Niqab ban

The issue of the wearing of niqabs during citizenship ceremonies will also likely be a hot topic during the debate, as a proposed ban on the face coverings is popular in Quebec.

On Wednesday, NDP officials said the leader agrees with current rules that require women to remove their face coverings at the ceremonies for identification purposes, but they should not be required to unveil during the swearing in process.

During a campaign event in Montreal, Mulcair said, if elected prime minister, he would withdraw the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

The NDP's stand is in contrast to the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois, who want women unveiled while they take the oath.

Meanwhile, Trudeau has said that a Liberal government would not appeal the Supreme Court decision to strike down the ban .

"Mr. Mulcair has to walk a delicate line tonight," Reid said of the niqab ban.

Gilles Duceppe

3. Welcome, Gilles Duceppe

This will be the first national debate for the BQ leader during this campaign, and with the Bloc having won only four seats in the province in the 2011 election, he doesn't have much to lose.

His challenge will be to prove that his party is relevant to Quebecers, Concordia University assistant professor of political science Mireille Paquet told The Canadian Press.

"He doesn't have a lot to lose, but he does have a lot to win if he can renew that romance he had with voters once upon a time," she said.

Elizabeth May

4. Welcome back, Elizabeth May

After being excluded from the leaders' debate on the economy, during which she weighed in with responses via video on Twitter , Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will be back on the national stage Thursday night.

And while the Green Party won no seats in Quebec in the last election, May said she's excited for the prospects of several Green candidates running in the province.

She told The Canadian Press that she plans to focus her attacks on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

"I have a really good memory, and I know what he's done for nine years," May said.

"I don't waste my time attacking Trudeau or Mulcair because I want to work with both of them after the election."

Justin Trudeau

5. What's in a name?

The Liberal leader will enter tonight's debate with many Quebecers remembering the tenure of his father, former Liberal prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Many in the province have not forgotten how the elder Trudeau pushed through the repatriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982 without Quebec's signature.

"The name Trudeau carries a history in Quebec," Paquet told The Canadian Press . "There are a lot of memories. Trudeau isn't going in there with a blank slate."

Aside from family history, watch for the Liberal leader to take shots at the NDP, as he touts his party as the true progressive alternative, she said.

With files from The Canadian Press