Tuesday, January 16, 2007

5-leader election debate?

You have probably heard lately that the Green Party is complaining that they are not included in the election debates that are broadcasted on TV, and that they started a website entitled Demand Democratic Debates. Their aim is to get the Green Party and Elizabeth May into the leaders' debates held each election.

When I first head their 'cry' for support, I agreed with them: they got more than 600,000 votes in the last election, so why can't they be in the leaders' debates to showcase their platform to the rest of Canada? And now in the polls, they are looking even better, with about 11% of the support of Canadians. They also had a full slate of candidates in the last election. They have a platform that covers most issues (meaning that they are not a one-issue party). Why can't they be in the debates?

As I said, I supported their cause. But I started to realize lately that we live in a society of rules, and we can't just start making exceptions. It has pretty much always been that you had to have at least one seat in the House of Commons before the election in order to have your leader in the debates. That was and still is the line. You need to have a Member of Parliament. And we can't start making exceptions for everyone. Once an exception has been made, then the Green Party will also be saying, "Where's the line?". In the 2006 election, in Nunavut, the Marijuana Party got 8% of the vote. Can they now participate? If the rules can be bent for the Green Party, why not for the Marijuana Party (who got more a higher percent of the vote in Nunavut than the NDP often gets in certain Québec ridings). Again, we have rules for this debate and exceptions can't start flying around for people who ask for them.

Finally, I have one small remark to make about the GPC's Demand Democratic Debates. If you go to their website, they say, "Your tax dollars finance the Green Party. Wouldn’t you like to hear where we stand on the issues?". I would like to point out that it is not the government or event Elections Canada that holds the debates, but the television stations. TV stations don't have to be accountable, nor do they give a care that tax dollars support the Green, so then they should be on the debates. The rules of the debates are created solely by the TV stations; the party leaders get no input. They alone can decide who will be in the debates.


Anonymous said...

never really thought about it that way ……

Joshua Kubinec said...

This is a really sticky subject, but ultimately I tend to think that the Greens ought to earn their place at the table in the same way that all of the rest of the parties did when they first started out. The Reformers, the Alliance, the CCF, the Socreds, the NDP, the PCs, the Bloc, the new Conservatives all earned their way on to TV debates through the same means as far as I know. Why should those standards now be changed just for the Green party? If those standards have been bent for other parties, then the Green party has a case.

It's a sound logic to me, and even though I signed that silly position, I tend to think that ultimately what will happen is that the execs will all look back at how the other parties made their way on to TV debates and see that the onus is on the Greens to prove that there is a precedent for this. Otherwise, they don't really have a case.

Alex said...

Sounds good.
Again, the rules cannot be bent just for the Green Party and Elizabeth May. They should work just as hard as other parties and not come crying onto TV and the like with a website called Demand Democratic Debates.

Kuri said...

I'm of two minds about this issue. As as NDP partisan, I'd *love* to see the Greens in the debates. I think that the other parties would handily rip May's "all things to all people" act to shreds and that those still suffering from the delusion that the Greens are a left wing party would be properly educated.

OTOH, I'm sure, as you say, that there are a good number of other parties that can make just as good of a case as the Greens to be the debates and yet no one's willing to entertain their cases. You can't make an exemption, "just because".