Leaders' Debate

Yesterday, on Power Play with Don Martin,  I began, “déjà vu all over again.”

Haven’t we been here before?  Didn’t the issue get resolved?

Why did the Consortium say I could not be included in 2008?  Because, they claimed 3 of 4 leaders said they would not participate if I were included.  That was the only reason.  So when Jack Layton and Stephen Harper relented I was included.

This time they have a new reason.  Invitations only go to parties with MPs in the House.  They are making this up as they go along.  The debate decision-making is an  unregulated, ad hoc process that makes decisions without benefit of rules or criteria.  The decision makers are the so-called Broadcast Consortium, as the news directors from CBC, CTV, Global, TVA and Radio Canada style themselves when making all the decisions about the leaders' debate.

How can a group of five television executives decide to exclude a party running in 308 ridings when they include a party that only runs candidates in Quebec?  How can debates, a critical part of the democratic process, operate in such a high-handed and arbitrary fashion?  How can a party with the support of one in ten Canadians be excluded?  And most fundamentally, how can TV executives tell Canadians that a vote for Green candidates is not a viable vote?  That is in fact what they are doing.  Far from facilitating a full and fair discussion in a democracy, they are interfering in democracy by dictating what votes are worth casting. What other interpretation can there be when the news media tells the public what leaders have a right to be heard? 

Yet, we were the only party in 2008 to receive more votes than in 2006.  We had nearly one million votes.  We are the only party likely to raise important issues, consistently ignored by others.  We are the only party committed to “high road” politics, to rejecting the politics of negativity, the attack ads and the smears. 

Canadians are fair minded.  Over 70% in poll after poll have argued that the Greens should be included.  This is not because 70% of Canadians plan to vote Green, but because Canadians recognize that democracy is healthier when all voices are heard. Right now, 83% of those who have gone on line on the CBC poll support the Greens being in the debates.

Canadians know when something is unfair and wrong.  This decision will be pilloried by Canadians from coast to coast because it offends our basic sense of decency and fair play. 

Please help us turn up the pressure.

Sign the Petition at demanddemocraticdebates.ca (which is endorsed by the Green Party of Canada).
Send emails to:
CTV - Wendy Freeman President of News  and News Managing Editor Dennis McIntosh programming@ctv.ca
CBC Jennifer McGuire General manager and Chief of News  ombudsman@cbc.ca
Global - Troy Reeb  viewercontact.globalnational@globaltv.com
TVA - Serge Fortin rédacteur en chef, au service de l'information de TVA info@tva.ca
Radio Canada - ombudsman@radio-canada.ca

Thank you!



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Given the format of the debates and how they show to the voting public, is there any merit in taking a pass on them?

-Canadians know there is a glaring omission

-might we better get out message across by staying out of the scripted charades and standing apart what appears false from the outset.

Stan Hunter

Debates, but don't take it too far

I think it's great that we're getting so much free publicity around this issue. Every time they interview you (or any candidate) about this, make sure to slip in some information about Green policies and plans! We should keep pushing and hopefully the outrage will have the same effect as last time around and you'll get in after all.What a sweet victory that would be!

However, I think that we should be careful about spending too much money or time on this. Elizabeth, I think that you should decide (privately of course, don't tell the consortium or the media!) how long we're willing to fight this, and when (i.e. a particualr date) you will bow out gracefully and say that it's such a shame you weren't allowed in, BUT you'll be door knocking all that night in your riding, OR running a live video or twittter feed where you respond to the questions and to the comments of the other leaders. I'm not sure that an expensive court challenge is worth it (unless there is a really strong, realistic chance that we can win of course)... that money might be better spent on getting your folks out to every house in your riding more than once, etc.

Basically my point is that we should take advantage of this free publicity (and the opportunity to shame the networks and other parties for their bad behaviour), but not if the price is taking you away from focussing on winning your seat. We need you in the house more than anything Elizabeth! Obviously you should be in the debates, but it's more important in the long run for you to be able to speak in the House! Let us volunteers and rank-and-file party members clog the social media with outrage about this, while you get to know your riding and win them over with your charm and great policies. :)

Oh yeah, and once you get elected, make sure that this decision is no longer left up to the consortium, but is decided by Elections Canada or some such independent organization!



Legal action gets us nowhere, depletes our scarce funds and makes us look like whiners.   Lets continue to put forward a strong case for why Greens should be present, highlight the democratic flaws which allow a "consortium" to wield this kind of arbitrary power, and spend our money on making sure that Canadians know about Green policies - especially those that have broad appeal and are distant from those of the other parties vieing to oppose the Conservatives. 

The thing that's killing Green momentum is the perception that we are "fringe" or "far-left", which pretty much all media attention we get reinforces.  We need to expend every effort possible to counter that image. 

Nobody I've spoken to was aware, for example that the Green platform includes income splitting for families.   Or income tax reductions and payroll tax reductions.    We've been a viable, full-spectrum  party with pragmatic and sensible policies for at least the past 10 years, there is absolutely no reason why one Canadian should equate the Green party with granola munching vegan hippies or believe that we are a one-issue party.  But the overwhelming majority still have that misconception about us.  Lets call off the lawyers.  

I shared an idea with Elizabeth in the last election, and I hope that someone might consider it:

Just in case the broadcast consortium continues their undemocratic exclusion of the Greens from televised leaders’ debates, I’d like to share an idea for how the Green Party might effectively get its message across to Canadian voters.

Since the Greens are not allowed to participate in the debate, the broadcasters should not also discriminate against the party purchasing advertising on the networks carrying the debate. 

I’d consider an ad (30 seconds or less) near the middle and end of the English and French debate. 

The advertisements would carry a simple message.

-          that the broadcast consortium have decided not to include the Green party from the debates. 

-          That we have just had the opportunity to see what the other major parties’ opinions are.   

-          That as a major party with candidates in every riding in Canada, it is only fair and democratic that Canadians have the opportunity to also hear how the Green Party will address the issues that are important to Canadians. 

-          That Canadians can go to the website www.greenparty.ca or Youtube (or whatever other address you choose) and shortly thereafter, Elizabeth May’s response to the debate questions will be available so that Canadians have the opportunity to know where the Green Party stands. 

Therefore, Elizabeth could be filmed responding to the debate questions, and feed the responses directly to the web in real-time (or as near as possible).



This is great--got more media already today than for the last two years. The longer they hold out, the more we gain! And here is what they don't want you to hear....

First Past the Post makes this particularly wrong!

The Green Party received over 937 000 votes in the last election. This is the voice of Canadians speaking! It is only due to a particular electoral system (first past the post) that this did not result in any seats (the criterion for inclusion in the debate). With not many more votes than that the Bloc was able to secure many seats and is thus included in the debates.

Given our electoral system that rewards a truly national party so unequally compared to a party with only a strong regional base, it seems totally arbitrary to making having an MP in the house of commons THE requirement for inclusion in the debates. It is exactly BECAUSE of our electoral system that determining participation in the debate based on voter support is much more democratic. For example a reasonable rule might be that any leader who's party received at least 5% of voter support in the last election should be invited to the debates.

Simon McMillan - Sudbury - www.simonstrasser.ca


Almost one million Canadians, boycotting every single advertiser that spends money with these media outlets might get their attention.

The end is the means by which you achieve it. - Wilhelm Reich, Listen, Little Man!

Chris George

Here is what I wrote the listed email contacts:

I am astonished at the hubris of eliminating Elizabeth May from the debates.

The Green Party is an official party that receives millions in public campaign fees, that is running in every riding, and is the only party to increase its vote in the last election.

They received nearly one million votes, nearly 7% of the total cast. Unlike the BQ, they received votes in every riding in the nation.

Compared to the 2006 election, in 2008, 167,494 fewer people voted for the Conservatives, 846,230 fewer people voted for the Liberals, 173,610 fewer people voted for the Bloc Quebecois, and 74,182 fewer people voted for the NDP.

And yet 273,545 more people voted for the Green Party. Isn't that reason enough to include Elizabeth?

The "no seats in the house" rule is ridiculous, tacit approval of a broken system in which millions of Canadians are not represented. Is it any wonder that voter participation continues to slide?

I urge you to reconsider this careless decision, before the CRTC and Elections Canada is forced by public opinion to step in, slap your hand, and take this abused power away from you. (I am writing them to urge exactly that.)

The sooner you change your mind, the less embarrassing it will be for you.

:::: Jan Steinman, EcoReality Co-op Communication Steward ::::

Contacts at CRTC and Elections Canada?

Is there a good address to write to the CRTC and Elections Canada?

:::: Jan Steinman, EcoReality Co-op Communication Steward ::::

CRTC and Elections Canada addresses

Okay, a little Googling and I got my addresses:

You can write to CRTC to register your complaint regarding this issue.

I wrote them a letter similar to the previous one I posted, substituting the final two paragraphs:

"The so-called "no seats in the house rule" is ridiculous, tacit approval of a broken system in which millions of Canadians are not represented. The spokesman for this "broadcasters consortium" admitted in a CBC interview that there were no pre-ordained rules, and that they are making things up as they go along. Is it any wonder that voter participation continues to slide?

"I urge you to take action against this corporate cabal, including censure and possibly suspension of broadcasting rights. They are using a public resource, and are supposed to at least maintain the appearance of providing a public service.

You can also write to Elections Canada to register your complaint regarding this issue.

I sent them a similar letter to the one above, substituting the final two paragraphs:

"The so-called "no seats in the house rule" is ridiculous, tacit approval of a broken system in which millions of Canadians are not represented. In fact, a spokesman for the broadcasters' cabal said in a CBC interview that they don't really have any rules, but are making it up as they go along. Is it any wonder that voter participation continues to slide?

"I urge you to censure the broadcasting consortium, possibly , in association with the CRTC, revoking their privilege of using PUBLIC airwaves, and that Elections Canada formally take over the organization of debates, instituting a clear and transparent process, open to public debate, regarding inclusion or exclusion from such debates.

:::: Jan Steinman, EcoReality Co-op Communication Steward ::::

One last opportunity to connect

The publicity over this debate fiasco is Ms. Elizabeth May’s last chance to connect with voters.  That means, please, please, stop the laser focus on environmental impacts and regulations, to the exclusion of all else.

And please talk about first and foremost:

“The Green Economy will produce; new jobs, sustainable jobs, good jobs for people now, and for our children.”

“The GPC is the Only party committed to renewing the economy this way.”

“The other parties support the old economy which is laying-off people, not creating any new jobs: banks, oil companies, car companies. etc.”

“This is why we must be in the debate.  We need to hear the new voices.  The voices of one million Canadians that reject the doomed ideas and industries of the past - and embrace the future.”    

- - - 

The election is about the economy.  It is what it is.  



Respectfully, D. Scott Barclay


Good point David.  Staying on message, relevant and timely is kee.

Stan Hunter

The best way is to prevent this happening next time.

And that's to do the following two things:

(a) Get Ms. May elected.

(b) Develop other candidates to have strong chances of winning.

It is Ms. May's responsibility (not exclusively hers, but her primary one) to develop other strong candidates so that we can have MPs the next time things roll around.  I think we are wasting too much time on the leadership debates, which rarely if ever change anyone's mind on anything.  Recent polls showed over 80% already are certain about whom they will vote for.  That's virtually all actual voters.  It will be more important for Greens to get supporters out to vote rather than trying to change anyone's mind at this point.

At 50% or so general turnout, a party that can get it's supporters out can show-up incumbents.

Don't count us out yet....

Yes, it is part of Elizabeth's leadership to help promote other stronge candates - and she has.  I'm working with a very strong candidate in Whitby/Oshawa.  We all have to do our part.  The other parties know who Elizabeth is - this isn't a surprise.  I think they are excluding her because we are gaining support.  So let's keep positive and all do our part!