According to Evan (let's-beat-this-story-to-death) Solomon's in his interview with Elizabeth May on CBC's Power and Politics yesterday, all four of the federal parties with seats in the House had to agree to the decision to exclude Elizabeth May in the two televised debates. If that is true, then Michael Ignatieff's and Jack Layton's remarks about welcoming May in the debates could be considered, shall we say, a bit hypocritical. But a spokesman referenced in a story in the Globe and Mail today says the television consortium issued an ultimatum on Wednesday night to the four parties to agree to their terms, arbitrary as they are. So the charge of hypocrisy may be less weighty unless the parties had already agreed in discussions before Wednesday night to the exclusion. Very likely.
The point is why does the absence of a seat in the House determine who should be in a federal leaders' debate? As I've said, the Green Party of Canada is a legally constituted institution with 308 candidates running for seats across the country with a substantial number of supporters. It is indeed an issue of democracy and inclusiveness. Why should we fear a wide range of voices on all the issues that concern us? Debate can lead to enlightenment for both those who participate and those who watch.
After two exclusionary blowups in three years, isn't it about time we take these federal debates out of the hands of big TV and make them truly public? For all their faults, the Americans have it right on national debates.