A Brief History


The McGill Debating Union was founded in 1927 as an amalgamation of the McGill Literary and Debating Society and the McGill Canadian Club. The McGill Literary Society was founded in 1873, becoming the McGill Literary and Debate society in 1880, marking the beginning of organized debating at McGill University.

The McGill Debating Union has been an integral and contributing member of the university community ever since its founding. The Union was a founding member of both the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) and the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debating (CUSID).

In 1986 McGill hosted the World Debating Championships, a privilege which has been awarded to only two other Canadian universities. The Union subsequently founded the North American Debating Championships in 1991, which it hosted again in 1998 and 2002.

At last year’s Canadian National Debating Championships, McGill demonstrated its continued debate success – not only did the McGill Debating Union have both teams in the finals, it also produced the nation’s top speaker and top novice speaker.

These days, the McGill Debating Union is continuing to build its legacy as a cornerstone of intercollegiate debate. The Union hosts two tournaments every year. In November, high school students from across the country travel to our High School Debating Tournament,  where many future university debating successes have made a name for themselves. And of course, every January since 1953, we continue to host Winter Carnival.

But beyond that, the DU is a significant part of McGill and the community surrounding it. Just last year, McGill debaters presented a debate at the Montreal World Health Organization conference on global pandemic preparedness, as well as a panel discussion on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. Within the club community, each year, the Debating Union and the International Relations Students’ Association of McGill host a debate on current international relations issues, and more recently the Debating Union hosted a debate between Liberal and Conservative McGill about the reelection of the current Canadian government.

The DU’s continued success on the circuit and in the community is more than just chance – it’s the result of opportunities that our members have made the most of. Those opportunities are the direct result of the support and contributions of the community.

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