The criteria for inclusion in the leaders’ debate is completely arbitrary. The system to decide who gets equal treatment has never been clear, transparent, accountable, or democratic. And yet, the Green Party played along and met all of the criteria as ever defined by a member of the broadcast consortium. Today we were excluded from the debate regardless. This is a shameful and irrational decision. It is an insult to democracy. And it is without precedent.
For the Reform party, having one seat was good enough to earn Preston Manning an invitation. For the Bloc, creating a party mid-Parliament was enough to earn Lucien Bouchard an invitation, even though no one had ever cast a single vote for his party and his candidates were only running in one province (on a promise of breaking up the country, no less). The Greens have an MP (who came to his new party in the same way that Bloc MPs came to theirs), have national support and are running candidates in every region of the country (more than the Reform party could say).
So what’s the difference between us and those other new parties that came before us? Was this decision made because our leader is a woman? Or because unlike the other parties, we haven’t traditionally spent money to advertise on the same networks that made the decision? I’d hate to think those were motivating factors, and I don’t really believe they were, but I’m hard pressed to come up with any other key distinctions. The only thing I’m left with is that we’re more of a threat than those other parties were, or perhaps that our opponents are more cowardly than theirs.
On day one of this election campaign, Elizabeth May began by saying that democracy itself was more important than any one party. On day two, 5 unelected and unaccountable people met in secret and decided to spit in the face of the nearly 700,000 people who voted Green in the last election, the over 1 million people who say they intend to do so in the next election, the 80,000 people who have signed a petition demanding our inclusion, and the 80% of Canadians who—regardless of whether or not they support the Green party—understand that we have earned our right to be heard.
We will fight this decision. Not just for ourselves, but for all voters who deserve to know all of their options before they make up their minds.
Finally, I can’t help but feel a special amount of shame for Jack Layton. He claims to support fair voting. He has repeatedly run on a platform that argues the Greens deserve at least 12 seats. And yet, today he’s happy to hide behind a voting system that he otherwise decries as unjust. He supports fair voting when it suits him, and ignores it when it doesn’t. That is the definition of a hypocrite and an opportunist.
When each party kicked-off their election campaigns on Sunday, Elizabeth May led supporters in a chant of “vote, vote, vote.” Meanwhile, NDP supporters across the river from Parliament Hill were chanting “Jack, Jack, Jack.” I guess we know where their priorities are.
15 thoughts on “Without Precedent”
I just found out that you would not be running in this election, Chris. As a resident of Toronto Centre, I want to thank you for running against giants like Bill Graham and Bob Rae. You did a great job of building momentum for the Green Party in the last election. You had my vote. I hope to see you around in the future!
I do not really think this fair, as Blair Wilson is now in your party and an Mp. I do not know where Harper got the excuse that there would be two Liberals. Elizabeth more or less agrees with Dion’s Green Shift, and she would prefer Dion over Harper. That is all. Harper is very paranoid and afraid of something
The Greens have an MP (who came to his new party in the same way that Bloc MPs came to theirs)
Is that the best you can come up with after a number of days to think about it? Not even close to the same thing. I won’t bother expounding further, just to say it is lame in the extreme.
As for this nonense: And it is without precedent…So whatâ€™s the difference between us and those other new parties that came before us? Was this decision made because our leader is a woman? Or because unlike the other parties, we havenâ€™t traditionally spent money to advertise on the same networks that made the decision?
the electoral map is no different today than it was in 2006 when Jim Harris (yes a man) was not allowed into the debates then – the only difference is that Elizabeth May on a whim and at the last minute took an unprincipled position to use Blair Wilson to get into the debates – a footnote in the history of the party that I predict many will come to regret.
One can debate the merits of having the GP in the debates, but let’s stick to facts and not base it on innuendo, misleading info, OK?
“I canâ€™t help but feel a special amount of shame for Jack Layton. He claims to support fair voting. He has repeatedly run on a platform that argues the Greens deserve at least 12 seats. And yet, today heâ€™s happy to hide behind a voting system that he otherwise decries as unjust. He supports fair voting when it suits him, and ignores it when it doesnâ€™t. That is the definition of a hypocrite and an opportunist.”
So true. In late 2003 or early 2004, Layton had an opportunity to place electoral reform on the negotiating table with then Prime Minister Paul Martin. Martin wasn’t interested. Layton quickly checked off ER from his list and went on to the next item. This little tidbit was reported on the NDP website at the time, which contradicted the rhetoric elsewhere on the site and in their print material. It then quickly disappeared because it hadn’t been spun as it should. Wish I’d cached the pages!
Why should Jack Layton, or any of the leaders of the LEGITIMATE parties dirty their hands with the likes of you? I’m PROUD that the legitimate parties have shut you out. What really needs to happen is the raising of the percentage of the vote needed to qualify for federal funds beyond your level, so that taxpayer’s money isn’t pissed away by you lot, manufacturing just enough dissent to keep your good times going. I’m voting for Steve Harper for ONE reason: to stop the so-called green party. Have fun watching the debate, mon freres. Oh, and backroom lizzie’s little tantrum on the news tonight was weak. I’m not even going to attack it on the blogs. There’s no need. It wouldn’t be sportsmanlike. You all have a nice day.
Dot, I understand. You’re scared, like Harper and Layton. It’s OK, May won’t hurt you.
dot, the Bloc thing isn’t very different. Gilles Duceppe ran as an independent in a by-election in 1990 before the Bloc was registered as a party in 1991. So it sounds to me like a candidate can run as an independent, form a party (with no elected seats, the member was elected as an independent, remember?), and be included in the debates. But you cannot cross the floor from an existing party to another already existing, but unelected party, and expect to get in to the debates. I don’t see the huge difference that you see. Please, “expound”.
The only other reason I can think for why the Bloc was included in the debates is because Lucien Bouchard was a former cabinet minister for Mulroney. Which seems a bit unfair to me.
I’m not sure you get national newspapers where you live, but had you read the G&M 18 months ago, you would have seen a column on this very subject that I had some involvement with. It was based on substantive arguments, not spin and misinformation.
Nice try. Dig into your piggy bank to read the full column.
Ms. May deserves an invite to the leaders’ gabfest
Print Edition 20/01/07 Page B2
An election won or lost on the environment? The environment has aspired, and failed, to become something more than a wacko B-list issue in recent federal elections. The next time looks different. Matters green are hot topics of debate. The Stephen Harper Tories are rolling out energy-efficiency programs to stall the Opposition’s green momentum. Nuclear reactors, coal and water are back in the news. Climate change horror stories are everywhere.
David Grant writes: dot, the Bloc thing isnâ€™t very different. Gilles Duceppe ran as an independent in a by-election in 1990 before the Bloc was registered as a party in 1991.
David, first off, Elizabeth May claims she ran for the Small Party in the 1980 election, which she claims is the predecessor to the Green Party. This was not a registered party at that time, but she claims she has media clippings showing that her group of independents across Canada did call themselves the Small Party.
Elections Canada had not officially yet recognized the Bloc, but Duceppe won under their banner – same thing.
As far as Chris’ claim that the Bloc crossed the floor in the same manner as Blair Wilson, this is a distortion of a grand scale.
The Bloc was formed when a number of MPs left the PC party on principle (whether you agree with it or not). They subsequently sat in the House of Commons as a separate group, and did elect Duceppe under their affilitation. This is in no way analagous to what Blair Wilson did. Had he crossed over to the GPC over one year ago, I might conced you have a point. But he sat as an independent until the eleventh hour, even later, before realizing is political career was over, made a swan song move. And your leader, unfortunately, didn’t just pinch her nose, but openly embraced his move.
I also read. Newspapers, national and international. I am fully aware of the “environmental programs” that the Tories are rolling out. I am also fully aware that Canada has become a laughing stock on the world stage with environmental concerns, and that MP John Baird is the lead clown on that stage (and certainly in the House during QP as well: in a room full of grown men and women who act like children, he certainly takes the cake).
The electoral map is in fact different than it was in 2006. More Canadians than ever are voting Green or are interested in Green policies. In whatever way you want to discount it, there is a sitting Green MP. The GP have met or surpassed all of the criteria that the media consortium had set down to exclude them before (there does certainly need to be a line to cross before you can partake in a national leadership debate). These are facts, quantifiable and unspinnable. Forget speculation that May being a woman or advertising sway have anything to do with the equation (and Chris DID suggest that he did not feel these were true), the previous requisites have been met, period. Seems the children have stepped outside of the classroom and into the playground and proudly proclaimed that “if she’s going to the birthday party, well then I’m not.”
I am fully aware that in an article printed more recently than 18 months ago (this morning in fact: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canadavotes/story/2008/09/09/formerpm-climate.html) a group of significant leaders of all political colours pleaded with the public and public servants to act upon and not just promise environmental policy change. As pretty as our family man PM looks in a sweater, our environment does not listen to words, but responds only to actions. I pray that more and more Canadians do the same, bypass the rhetoric of ALL of the party leaders and instead read the policies that will, in the end, have an effect on our prosperity, reputation and very existence. I am truly impressed at how effective these machines are at swaying public opinion and votes with pointed advertising campaigns: pure genius, and I mean that. But I feel more and like the carpet is being pulled from under my feet with every ad I accidently see, and am saddened to know that so many of us make our political choice based on good or bad advertising. We are not voting on softdrinks, and I despise being treated as if we are.
In response to one commenter, what exactly constitutes a legitimate party?
Finally, my name is Steve Salt and I am an educator. I am friend of Chris Tindal’s and a former GP member. I am now becoming increasingly non-partisan and tired of the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of partisan politics and the lack of free votes (party over country). Our American neighbours had forefathers who, before they signed the Constitution, insinuated that partisan politics should be avoided at risk of negating the effectiveness and integrity of this wonderful gift that we have that is democracy. I tend to agree with them.
dot, I have a great deal of respect for your comments, research and level of knowledge: you have a gift of words even if I don’t agree with them.
Pleased to meet you.
Who are you?
The electoral map is in fact different than it was in 2006. More Canadians than ever are voting Green or are interested in Green policies. In whatever way you want to discount it, there is a sitting Green MP.
Steve, it seems to me in the last GPC convention, your guest speaker, Joe Trippi, in response to the Green Party’s obsession with proportional representation, suggested that the party first focus on getting a MP ELECTED under the existing rules, and then work to change the system from within. I don’t recall him suggesting using every questionable means possible to get into the debates, which seems to have become an obsession with this party, and particularly its narcissistic leader.
So, what happens if she gets into the debates and tanks (a not entirely unreasonable outcome)? This is not the case where a relatively unknown person is given a catapult onto the national stage and media spotlight for the first time. She has had plenty of media exposure, (in fact, I would argue, overexposure), that have been reflected in the rising polls since the last election. The problem with overexposure, for me at least, is that you begin to see a pattern. Can Elizabeth May go one day without uttering or releasing in a presser a cheap shot at Harper? Can she continue to claim she isn’t a politician while being one of the most political of leaders? Can she continue to spread untruths or misrepresentations without eventually getting caught up by her own words?
Those are the risks she faces – the electorate tire of her rhetoric, innuendos, smears and just change the channel when she speaks. As I do. And I suspect as the public really gets to know her, the polls will move accordingly.
Rather than her very questionable tactics, the GPC should act like Smith Barney. They earn money the old fashioned way – the earn it!
p.s. a “sitting MP” usually, by definition, sits in Parliament. This guy never will as a Green MP. Hence, he does not qualify by any reasonable standard.
dot! You hit the nail on the head, save for the choice cheap shots of your own which you so eloquently condemned. If she truly is all you say she is, she will be among friends on the debates. And yes! I think your questions are incredibly pertinent and important: what if she tanks? What if she IS just another politician? You are right and we agree: the polls will reflect that and the public will see May for who she is for better or worse for the GP and no doubt for the better of our country. And isn’t it the public who should decide after all?
I think it important to listen to all sides, and not just turn the channel. I should reiterate that the GP is not “my party”. My vote is decided on issues, not party.
Again, too, your comments would carry more weight with me if you introduced yourself so I knew where you were coming from.
Thank you for am agreeable post.
Maclean’s contributor Anne Kingston blogs on Ms. May’s claims:
May misplays the â€œsexismâ€ card
There is a link there to a profile she did on the leader Oct 29, 2007.