Should the Greens be in the Leaders’ “Debate”?

Not that the measly two debates that the consortium of broadcasters reluctantly deign to offer up to the citizenry of Canada in a federal election are ever particularly edifying, but once again the question arises as to whether the Green Party leader should be allowed to participate…

Given the collusion between the major parties and the broadcasters to exclude her, it seems highly unlikely that Elizabeth May will be present, but she’s hoping that public support will change the minds of the organizers. Good luck with that.

Some have suggested that an independent, non-partisan “debate commission” needs to replace the current arrangement. Maybe that would be an improvement… or not, I don’t really know.

Looking at the American experience where there is no end of so-called debates, all the way from the primaries right through to the final phase of the election where the two (or sometimes three) presidential candidates face off, doesn’t offer much encouragement. Unfortunately, they’re so painfully staged by everyone involved that the resulting “debate” produces neither heat nor light. Basically, these affairs are just an exchange of talking points, or as some wag once put it, duelling press conferences.

Bottom line, I don’t think it’s a huge loss for Elizabeth May and the Greens to be excluded from the “debates” even though it hardly seems fair that someone representing a significant percentage of voters (albeit with no elected members) shouldn’t have a voice at the table. Perhaps the biggest downside for May and the Greens is that it serve to delegitimize them in eyes of some people.

So, what do you think?


6 Replies to “Should the Greens be in the Leaders’ “Debate”?”

  1. I’d rather hear more one on one debates, maybe spread over two nights. Maybe televised, maybe made available online a la TED talks. The idea of being able to scroll through a list of debaters and topics and picking the ones that interest me is very appealing.

    There I go with that naive idealism thing again…..

  2. Catelli: Heh. I happen to share your “naïve idealism” in regards to the suggestions made. I’d like to see real debates perhaps over spread over several nights (and made available online as you suggested) that go into more detail, especially about critical issues like energy, healthcare, fiscal management, etc. But that aren’t broadcast until they’re all completed so that the politicians can’t adjust their “gameplay” from night to night based on feedback or win-loss adjudications by pundits.

    Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.

    Or, there’s always my favourite idea of having them play Jeopardy!

  3. I think that the Broadcaster’s Consortium has made it clear that fair entry is Representation in the House of Commons, but I think that is a bit of a parse in favour of the status-quo. Given the diversity of political affiliation in the Dominion these days, I think a fairer demarcation would be any party that runs candidates in EVERY riding. On this, the Greens would certainly qualify, and other fringe parties would not. If they can muster enough candidates to contest every riding, then they are deserving of a national hearing and exposure – in my opinion. (disclosure: I have voted Green that last two elections, and I plan on doing so this May ….)

  4. I agree with Aeneas regarding qualifications for being included in any national leaders debates. Having to have an already elected MP is looking to the past and favours the status quo in our antiquated first past the post electoral system.

    The election, and the debates, should be about the future, not the past.

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