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.