I am writing from a flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay where I will spend tomorrow campaigning with Green MP and Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer. I had imagined that in this 2015 election campaign I would write a blog a day, but this week was pretty unusual. And this is my first opportunity to blog.
We had a huge success in our last-minute call out for supporters to assemble at 6:30 Sunday AM in Sidney BC for the campaign launch. Over two hundred people showed up! (That’s not a crowd estimate. We counted!) The Green candidates who came to the launch wowed the crowd with great speeches until I could take the stage to the live media feed across Canada. (Claire Martin, Lynne Quarmby, Glenn Sollitt, Frances Litman, Wes Regan, Lisa Barrett, Ken Melamed and Brenda Sayers – as well as Adam Olsen, BC Green interim leader and Green MLA Andrew Weaver).
We felt pretty euphoric at a positive, energized launch – especially as the other leaders had tightly scripted events without any supporters near them. Trudeau had a launch later in the day in Vancouver and he had candidates there, but, as has become common, they were used as backdrop for the leader. In case you viewed our launch on a media website, you might be wondering why we were so euphoric that we started dancing and jumping around... The speakers were booming out a great new election song from Chilliwack. “Take Back this Country.” You can hear it on the video recorded by local volunteers, but the national media feeds did not include it.
I managed to get to my local church for services only a bit late, before the end of the opening hymn, and dashed out before the final hymn to get our chartered float plane to Vancouver for the Pride Parade. What a wonderful and joyous event! Our Green contingent was huge!
Then it was back to Vancouver Island and Victoria for one of every summer’s highlights – Symphony Splash!
Debate prep dominated the week. And then last night was the debate!
I enjoyed myself through the debate, suppressing any frustration as best I could at not being able to get the floor enough to expand on points or make obvious ones. What a night! But the reviews have been generous in their praise and I am confident more people will be taking the Green Party more seriously!
I was particularly happy with the review on line in a Canadian Business blog that said I had a better grasp on economic matters than any other leader. I was pleased that there were so many commentators – Michael Harris, Michael Den Tendt, Andrew Coyne, Don Martin, among others (not to mention voters on social media) – who argued forcefully that no national leaders debate should take place without the Greens.
So I will close with the current state of play on debates:
National Televised Leaders’ debate:
I am invited to the national broadcasters leaders’ debate (the traditional one, organized and broadcast by CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Global)
But... Stephen Harper has refused to participate. Appalling. And somehow even more appalling that national media has hardly reported on this for what it is - a slap in the face to Canadian voters.
Confronting this shocker, all the other parties met with the broadcasters and we agreed to hold Stephen Harper’s feet to the fire by leaving an empty podium for him and continuing with the debates. They are scheduled for October 7 and 8 in English and French. I was very sure that as the date approached, Stephen Harper would realize he simply could NOT leave an empty podium allowing opposition leaders to shoot goal after goal into a net with no goalie. However, now those are in a new state of limbo because Tom Mulcair has decided to back out.
Boutique private debates
The Conservatives have announced Stephen Harper will participate in 5 debates. One was last night – the Macleans. One remains to be accepted by the Conservatives. So that leaves three that Conservatives have accepted. Some are accepted by both Mulcair and Trudeau. But Mulcair also appears to be backing away from those. The Green Party is not invited to any of them.
Quick tally: Globe and Mail debate on the economy to be held in Calgary. Accepted by Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau – although now Mulcair appears to be backing out of that one saying his commitment was only “in principle.”
Munk Debates on Foreign Policy. Harper and Mulcair have accepted, although now Mulcair appears to be backing out of that one too.
TVA: French language debate on commercial network owned by PK Peladeau, connected with Sun Media (which the PM’s Communications director Kory Teneyke used to run.) Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau and Gilles Duceppe have all accepted. You read that right. TVA is NOT inviting the Green Party with 2 seats, but is inviting the Bloc Quebecois, with 2 seats.
Debates focused on important issues
A lot of debates organized by NGOs remain to be tightened up. The most concrete is that from a coalition of women’s groups for a debate focussed on women’s issues. I have accepted as have Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, however it seems that Tom Mulcair is considering pulling out of that one too.
I refuse to accept that with an October 19 election, the ONLY debate among leaders has already happened. I will need your help. We can pressure the Globe and Munk and TVA, but we also need to press for the major national televised leaders’ debates to take place. And for that we need pressure on Mulcair and Harper.