With the possibility of a spring election in the air, people are starting to talk again about the televised leaders’ debates, and more specifically, whether or not we should be in them. (Shockingly, I think we should.) The decision will be made by a “broadcast consortium,” comprising the executives of the television networks that broadcast the debate, using whatever criteria they want. (I tend to think the decision should be made by Elections Canada using democratically set criteria, but here we are.)
I’m optimistic that they’ll make the right choice this time. We’ve already received some unlikely editorial support, including from the Toronto Sun. About a month ago the Green Party launched demanddemocraticdebates.ca, a website that aruges our case and asks visitors to declare their support. During the last campaign more people signed the Green Party’s petition to be included than sent questions to the actual debates.
A belief that this blog has been generally lacking in bullet points motivated me to outline the following arguments, some new and some old, as to why we should be in the debate.
- The Green Party of Canada has had increased and sustained presence in the media between elections.
- The Green Party has held one major policy conference and several smaller policy forums since the last election.
(those first two points were cited by one broadcast executive last time around as prerequisites for being included in the debate)
- The Green Party has unique perspectives on issues that are extremely important to Canadians but are not otherwise being discussed. Witness the fact that the climate crisis was completely absent from the last leaders’ debates, and yet is now the number one issue in the minds of the public and the media. That would not have happened if the Green Party had been included, and our democracy would be stronger for it. We have demonstrated an ability to speak to issues that matter to Canadians in ways that other parties are failing to do.
- Green Party candidates received over one million votes in the last two federal elections. Those Canadians deserve to be represented and heard.
- The Green Party receives over one million dollars of tax payer money each year. The public deserves to know what we stand for (and where their money is going).
- The Green Party has demonstrated staying power (vs. the Canadian Action Party and some other small parties, which got popular for one election and then lost ground).
- Every single Canadian has been able to vote Green for two (and soon three) elections in a row, but has not been allowed the same access to the party’s ideas. The Green Party is only the fourth party in the history of Canada to run a full slate, yet we are the first to do so and be excluded from the leaders’ debates.
- Elizabeth May received almost as many direct votes to become leader of the Green Party of Canada than StÃ©phane Dion did for the Liberals (2145 vs. 2541). This highlights the strength of her mandate and the legitimacy of our leadership selection process.
- Elizabeth May’s inclusion in the debate will make for engaging and compelling television, and will help increase both ratings and interest in democracy, driven both by those who support us and those who don’t.
Just in case the network executives who are making this decision don’t visit my site, you can take action here.