Crossposted to tvo.org. Todayâ€™s question: â€œShould more party leaders have been included in the Leadersâ€™ Debate?â€ (400 word limit)
Yes. Frank de Jong and the Green Party of Ontario have earned their place at the table. Of course, it’s predictable and at least a bit self-serving for me to say that, so let’s take a look at the facts and arguments.
First, it’s important to understand that, contrary to the claims of our opponents, there are no rules for deciding who gets to be in the debate. None. The decision is made behind closed doors by a group of unelected and accountable broadcast executives using whatever criteria they chose. That’s not right; there should be an open and transparent process with clear criteria.
Second, there’s precedent. Provincial Green leaders have been included in other televised debates, including Adriane Carr in BC and, most recently, Sharon Labchuk in PEI.
Third, Greens are polling at an all-time high, within striking distance of the NDP. Thomas Walkom writes in The Toronto Star that “if I had to pick a winner for the week, it would be Frank de Jongâ€™s Greens,” and Ian Urquhart says that The Greens have hit a nerve. In other words, we’re a serious, credible voice that many people are considering voting for. They deserve to hear what we have to say.
Fourth, as columnist John Lorinc points out, excluding the Green party means excluding whole issues and new ideas. It means, for example, that the majority of Ontarians who support the creation of one publicly funded school system will not hear from a single party leader who shares their views during tonight’s debate.
Finally–and, for me, most importantly–the overwhelming majority (close to 80%) of voters believe that the Greens should be included in the debates. We live in a democracy, so surely that counts for something. (Check out these responses to CBC posing the question.) And you have to ask yourself, if that many people want to hear where we stand, what right do the broadcasters have to deny them? And to the party leaders who oppose our inclusion: what are you afraid of?
I’d encourage you to read Frank de Jong’s excellent op-ed piece in today’s Toronto Sun outlining the reasons he should have been included. And if you’d like to hear what Frank has to say on the issues, check out gpo.ca during tonight’s debate. He’ll be responding to questions live, because he believes that you have a right to know where the Green party stands.