Ok I am officially annoyed. Elizabeth May the Green Party of Canada leader has be blocked from entering the leaders debate for the 2008 general election.
First off let me be fully open, I am a Green Party of Canada member. So I am biased. Besides being a GPC member I am strong believer in voting and getting people to make informed decisions when doing so. This is the part of me that is so angry about this decision.
Backroom deals and incumbent political parties blocking another from participating in a debate, reads like the news out of some failed democracy around the world. This fact that this is being mentioned in conjunction with Canada should shame us all.
Every year the broadcast consortium has met behind closed doors to decide who is in and who is out of the debates. Every year a party has been excluded for some new reason and while others that would have not passed the same test are included. Every year the rules seem to change at the whim of these titans of our airwaves.
Here is the solution I propose. The main broadcasters in the country or Elections Canada conducts a poll shortly after the start of the election. Every party that meets a predefined and consistent threshold is included in the debates. I don’t really care what threshold is used but only that it is applied the same every election, without exception. I can suggest that 2% be used which is the same used for parties to receive federal financing. It would give every political party a goal to achieve – while treating them all fairly.
I was shocked to hear that one of the reasons for not allowing May into the debates was because 3 of the other parties refused to show up if she was there. Maybe they are scared of breaking up the sausage party! In this case I find it hard to believe that the three parties would have dropped out of the debate leaving the Liberals and Greens with 2 hours of free air time!
The refusal of incumbents to show up to debates has also been used at the local riding level. Last election the Liberal incumbent in my riding said he could not make it to a debate on poverty in the riding. So the organizers canceled the debate, which played right into the hands of a MP who didn’t want this issue discussed.
Steve and the Conservatives – I guess I am not totally surprised about this one. For a guy, that ran during the last election on a platform of making government more open and accountable, he has spent a lot of effort at doing the opposite. The man has shunned the national media, only holding White House style press conferences – predetermined questions from approved reporters. He refuses to scrum with reporters. I can only imagine because he is scared of what might slip out!
Gilles and the Bloc Quebecois – I find it hard to believe that a national party would be excluded but a separatist regional party would be allowed to join in. Crazy!
Jack and the NDP – I think this was the most disappointing of them all. A party that has proportional representation as part of its platform and claims to fight for the little guys, has got to make you wonder when they pull something like this. Layton has lost a whole lot of credibility in my book.
If you are still reading this then I ask you to go to the website below to sign the petition. Ask your friends to do the same. You are not supporting the Green Party but supporting a fair and open democracy.