So the stakes were high.
It was a crowded stage: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, the Conservatives' Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Maxime Bernier from the People's Party of Canada, and - in Quebec - the Bloc Québécois, led by Yves-François Blanchet.
Did any of them stand out from the crowd? Were there any performances sharp enough to finally shift opinion polls that have barely budged since the election was called in mid-September? What topics sparked fireworks?
Here are some key takeaways.
Front-runners trade blows, but no knockout
The Conservatives and the Liberals have been locked in a dead heat for the entire campaign, so this was a chance to get some momentum before Canadians head to the polls on 21 October.
Both parties need to break that deadlock - and the two front-runners frequently went head-to-head, occasionally talking over each other to the point of incoherence.
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