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The Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate (CUSID generally, and SUCDI in French) is the national organization which governs and represents university-level debating and public speaking in Canada. It sanctions several official annual tournaments and represents Canadian debating domestically and abroad. Its membership consists of student debating unions, sanctioned by their respective universities, from across Canada.

Many prominent Canadians were university debaters, including former Canadian Prime Ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney, songwriter Leonard Cohen, entrepreneur Moses Znaimer, environmentalist David Suzuki and journalist Ian Hanomansing. CUSID debaters have gone on to notable careers in business, government and academia, and the presidency of the organization is a highly sought-after position.



CUSID was founded in 1978. The regular tournaments held under its auspices, such as those at the University of Toronto (Hart House), the McGill University Debating Union, the University of Western Ontario Debating Society and the Queen's University Debating Union predate CUSID's formation by many decades.

Founded as a national organization with strong central Canadian region roots, over the years, individual regional differences—particularly the separate identities of "CUSID East" and "CUSID West"—have become more pronounced. One of its primary functions is facilitating communications between its members institutions. In recent years, those communications have been primarily through their online forum, CUSIDnet, first set up in 1994, as the first online student debating forum in the world.


CUSID is subdivided into three regional bodies, representing each region of Canada:

  • CUSID East, for the Atlantic Provinces
  • CUSID West, for Western Provinces, Territories and Alaska
  • CUSID Central, for Ontario and Quebec

Each of the regions sponsors their own tournaments, in addition to the nationally sanctioned tournaments. CUSID sanctions several official championship tournaments every year, including:

Annual Invitational Tournaments

  • McGill Winter Carnival
  • Queen’s Chancellor’s Cup
  • Carleton Lord Dorchester Cup
  • Hart House IV
  • Ottawa Father Guindon Cup
  • Wilfred Laurier/Waterloo Seagram Cup

Presidents of CUSID

The President of CUSID is the head of the organization and leads an elected executive team consisting of six national and regional officers. He or she also represents CUSID and Canadian debating interests inside and outside of Canada, is the Canadian representative on the World Universities Debating Council, as well as alternating annually with the American Parliamentary Debate Association president to represent the Americas on the WUDC Executive Committee. He or she is elected annually by the member institutions at the National Championships.

Year President Member Society
2009-2010 Vinay Kumar Mysore McGill University Debating Union
2008-2009 Adam Coombs Carleton University Debating Society
2007-2008 Nick Shkordoff University of Toronto Hart House Debating Club
2006-2007 Padraic Ryan Carleton University Debating Society
2005-2006 Jessica Prince McGill University Debating Union
2004-2005 Erik Eastaugh University of Ottawa English Debating Society
2003-2004 Konrad Koncewicz McGill University Debating Union
2002-2003 TJ (Tajesh) Adhihetty Queen's University Debating Union
2001-2002 Kevin Massie Trent University Debating Union
2000-2001 Ranjan K. Agarwal University of Ottawa English Debating Society
1999-2000 Robert Silver University of Western Ontario Debating Society
1998-1999 Michael Shore University of Toronto Hart House Debating Club
1997-1998 Brent Patterson University of Western Ontario Debating Society
1996-1997 Casey Halladay University of Western Ontario Debating Society
1995-1996 Mitch Wexler York University Debating Union
1994-1995 Shuman Ghosemajumder University of Western Ontario Debating Society
1993-1994 Kathy Sturgis University of Guelph Debating Union
1992-1993 Gerald Butts McGill University Debating Union
1992-1992 Sarah Dover University of Ottawa English Debating Society
1991-1992 Jason Brent University of Toronto Hart House Debating Club
1990-1991 Stephen Pitel Dalhousie Sodales, the Dalhousie University Debating Society
1989-1990 E. Stephen Johnson University of Toronto Hart House Debating Club
1988-1989 Todd Swift Concordia University Debating Society
1986-1988 Matthew Mendelsohn McGill University Debating Union
1984-1986 Paul A. Canniff Carleton Debating Society
1983-1984 Bob Lawson Royal Military College of Canada Debating Society
1980-1983 John Robinson Dalhousie Sodales, the Dalhousie University Debating Society
1979-1980 Sandy Beeman University of Ottawa English Debating Society
1978-1979 Steve Coughlan University of Ottawa English Debating Society


CUSID tournaments are held in Canadian Parliamentary format. This style emphasizes argumentation and rhetoric, rather than research and detailed factual knowledge. Each round consists of two teams – the government team and the opposition team – each of which consists of two debaters. (Teams alternate between government and opposition at tournaments.) The speaking times in CUSID Central and East are:

  • Prime Minister (Constructive): 7 minutes
  • Member of Opposition: 7 minutes
  • Minister of the Crown: 7 minutes
  • Leader of Opposition: 3 minutes
  • Prime Minister (Rebuttal): 3 minutes

A new modification to the above times was introduced at the 2003 McGill University Winter Carnival Invitational called the Prime Minister's Rebuttal Extension (PMRE). The PMRE allows the government team the option to take a 6 minute PMC and 4 minute PMR and was designed to help compensate for the alleged inherent advantage to the opposition side. In most rounds, the resolution is “squirrelable”, meaning that the government team can propose any topic it wants for debate. The Prime Minister Constructive (PMC) lays out the topic for debate and presents arguments in favor of its position. The opposition team must then immediately present opposing arguments. New arguments can be presented in the first four speeches; they are prohibited in the rebuttal speeches.

“Points of Information” are generally permitted and expected in the standard Canadian Parliamentary style. With POIs, debaters may rise and attempt to ask a question of an opposing debater, who can choose whether to accept or refuse the question. It is generally considered good form to accept at least a few questions during a speech.

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