Politics - Federal

Elizabeth May Not

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 09, 2008

A "consortium" of television broadcasters has decided not to allow Green Party leader Elizabeth May to participate in the televised leaders' debates, despite the fact that the Greens are running candidates in every riding in the country and have at least one Green member of parliament.

The TV networks claim that the leaders of three other parties - the Bloc Quebecois, Conservatives, and NDP - would refuse to appear if May was included.

"It became clear that if the Green party were included, there would be no leaders' debate," the consortium said in a press release.

"In the interest of Canadians, the consortium has determined that it is better to broadcast the debates with the four major party leaders, rather than not at all."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it would be "unfair" to include May given the Green Party's support for legislation similar to the Liberal Party's Green Shift carbon tax plan and the two parties' agreement not to challenge the riding of the other party's leader.

Perhaps most egregious is NDP leader Jack Layton's collusion in the silencing of the Green Party. He disingenuously said, "The networks decided they will stick with the old rules and we support that."

This is deeply disappointing coming from a party that has long advocated the reform of Canada's antiquated first-past-the-post voting system, which disproportionately allocates seats to the major parties.

In the 2006 election, the NDP won 29 seats but would have won 54 seats under proportional representation (PR). The Green Party won no seats but would have won 14 under PR.

In any case, even Layton's claim that the networks will "stick to the old rules" is disingenuous. The Bloc Quebecois was formed in 1990 but allowed to participate in the 1993 televised debate, even though they only ran candidates in Quebec and had only one member of parliament.

The Green Party already meets that threshold of inclusion, given that North Vancouver MP Blair Wilson switched to the Green Party on August 30, 2008.

The Green Party have set up an online petition to the broadcasters' consortium to let May join the debate, and have also indicated that they will seek legal redress.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 09, 2008 at 11:31:23

as if the media doesn't have enough power in our society, they also get to choose who we can and can't hear from in an election debate??

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted September 09, 2008 at 17:03:46

This is fucked up.

I hate to say it but the NDP just lost my vote. I think Christopherson is great but Layton is way off the mark on this one. I don't completely see eye-to-eye with the Greens on everything, but I don't really see eye-to-eye on everything with any of the parties. This is infuriating. Time for me to get a big green lawn sign, wankers.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 00:28:47

Say it ain't so, public servants acting selfishly, how can this be? When will you naive little children realize that most people that enter politics are power hungry sociopaths.

Their primary goal is to wield power, and if they have to lie and cheat in order to do this, they will.

You disappoint me Ryan, I thought you were smarter than that.

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By Markius (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 02:39:09

Yes, this saddening turn of events has turned this household, and our neighbour next door to switch to getting a Green sign instead of an NDP one.
We thought the NDP stood for participatory democracy and election reform, but clearly when push comes to shove, it's the New unDemocratic Party.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2008 at 08:00:40

A Smith wrote:

You disappoint me Ryan, I thought you were smarter than that.

I've met enough politicians to learn that some are earnest and others are just power-mad.

When you cynically assume that all politicians are the latter, you merely drive out the former in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I realize your schtick is that government can't do anything right, but my observations and experiences in the world of politics contradict that belief.

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By BE (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 09:03:53

So this is the issue that causes some people to ditch the NDP and join the Greesn? Really?????

You might want to read the Greens platform and policies before you blindly jump ship.

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 11:52:54

BE- I'm not jumping blindly- I've been moving closer to the centre for a few years and I have read the Green's platform and it doesn't bother me. I also recognize that they're a new party, still developing their policies and ideas and that none of the national parties were perfect from the start and they needed time and votes to grow and develop. My vote will support a party that has been so consistently shut out of the national debate, a party that has some sound ideas that need the light of day to be fully fleshed out. You sound like we're all pondering membership to the SS or something. In the middle of all this minority government fun, now is the perfect time to let someone else into the fray.

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By Thom (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 11:56:33

I think having Elizabeth May participate is a fair move for a party that is running candidates in every riding across the country, received 660,000 votes in the last election, has a sitting MP (sort of) and receives public funding. But certainly read their policies before voting for any party!

I encourage readers to file a personal complaint with the CRTC against the "consortium" (CBC, CTV, Canwest-Global) disallowing her participation. You can do this by visiting the following link. It should only take you a few minutes and they are obliged to act on your complaints:

www.crtc.gc.ca/RapidsCCM/Register.asp?lang=E

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 15:17:37

Thanks for posting the link, Thom. I sent them a short but sweet message.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 15:40:07

Ryan, the concept of centralizing power and into the hands of a few people is the problem. In the private sector, there are a multitude of groups who offer services in exchange for people's money. In the public sector, there is three.

In the private sector, each citizen gets to chose daily on who will win his business. In the public sector, each citizen (over 18) gets a 1/15,000,000 weighted choice every 4 - 5 years on who will get his business.

Which system do you think delivers the most satisfaction to the people?

If the people in government are so important to the lives of Canadians, they would not need to resort to theft in order to fund their operations. Walmart, McDonald's, Disney, Toyota, and other successful organizations also serve a large customer base, but they so by allowing people the freedom to choose.

Government does not give people this choice, but rather believes that your money is their money. If you object to this claim on your labour, you are sent to jail, or worse.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2008 at 16:13:45

Stephen Harper and Jack Layton are now backing down on blocking Elizabeth May from the debate:


Layton was the first to back away from his previous position, saying he didn't want to keep "debating about the debate."

"As long as Stephen Harper takes part, I don't care who else is on the stage," he said Wednesday afternoon on his campaign bus.

Less than an hour later, Conservative representatives informed reporters that the Tories would not stand alone against May's inclusion.

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/st...

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 16:22:47

BE- can you specifically tell me what is so worrisome about the Green's platform? Personally it's nice to see a party with something to say about the arts- which is something I've found lacking in every other party's platform in past elections. Let's talk specifics here please. I'm not convinced you've read their platform.

As for the reversal of Darth Harper and Jack Layton, in my mind, this doesn't change anything. The original intent of the opposition to May's full inclusion still stands. It's sad that these two changed their minds based on public outcry and not based on principle. It shows to me that both of them have been inside the Ottawa machine too long and have forgotten the humble beginnings of both their parties.

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 16:25:21

BE- can you specifically tell me what is so worrisome about the Green's platform? Personally it's nice to see a party with something to say about the arts- which is something I've found lacking in every other party's platform in past elections. Let's talk specifics here please. I'm not convinced you've read their platform.

As for the reversal of Darth Harper and Jack Layton, in my mind, this doesn't change anything. The original intent of the opposition to May's full inclusion still stands. It's sad that these two changed their minds based on public outcry and not based on principle. It shows to me that both of them have been inside the Ottawa machine too long and have forgotten the humble beginnings of both their parties.

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By BE (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2008 at 19:03:44

Jelly, I think you've misinterpreted my comments. I'm not implying that there is anything sinister about the Greens platform, only that someone should research a parties stance on issues before supporting them. Which it seems that you have. Which is very responsible of you, I only lament that a number of people I have talked to lately are rashly bailing out of the NDP boat specifically over this issue and supporting the Greens as a default setting.

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