Just like the last federal election, the broadcast consortium has decided that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will not be allowed to address the nation in the debates. And just like last time – expect there to be an uproar and upwelling of support for Elizabeth May and our democratic institutions. It wasn’t only Green Party supporters who rallied to get May into the debates in 2008, there was also much support form non-Green voters because they realized the ramifications on our very democracy. When a party that fields candidates in every riding and qualifies for our tax dollars is not allowed in the debates – something is terribly wrong with our democracy. We should be working as hard as possible to open up our democratic system and have more involvement but this decision smacks that very notion down.
Now of course, just like in 2008, the biggest supporters of the ban are the Conservative party and their followers who are already trembling with excitement at the thought of one less voice against their party. What they fail to realize is that this action polarizes our national stage and ensures that some undecided voters will not go to the Conservatives this election. Maybe they don’t care, or maybe they figure they have enough support without the undecided voters, but either way, these actions will stick on the party name. The Conservatives are already having a hard enough time playing nicely inside our democratic model without being seen as just doing more of the same.
At this point nearly 1 million Canadians who voted Green last election may not get to hear their chosen party speak. Youth who make up or would make up a significant portion of the Green Party vote are going to be further turned off our democratic model and this comes at a bad time when so few vote as it is. Why is it that the media consortium believes that a party that can field candidates in every riding is not worthy of being heard? Their cop-out answer – they don’t have any seats. If Canada had a modern voting system like most of the world the Greens would have seats – a couple dozen of them, but saddled with the first past the post system, they get shut out even though their vote count nearly echoes that of the Bloc. And speaking of the Bloc Quebecois, many Canadians outside of Quebec are asking why they have to see the Bloc leader whose party they cannot vote for, but the party they can vote for who will run a candidate in their riding cannot. It makes little sense.
The Federal Politics Journal would like to see a cut-off set high that would be the threshold for the debates – 90% of ridings must have a candidate fielded to have the party leader in the debates. Anyone familiar with the rules around our elections will know that is no easy feat. And any party that does meet that threshold should be heard by all – seats or no seats. Democracy is only healthy when it is not caged or constrained. Or in the case of the broadcast consortium – based on some formula they refuse to tell. How does that help democracy in Canada when an unelected group representing corporate interests get to decide whose voice is heard and whose is not? And if that doesn’t dispel the notion of a “left-wing” dominated media in Canada nothing will.
Two things remain – will Elizabeth May and the Green Party rally enough support to be included and will the other political parties say or do anything to help?