So, are you going to watch the second Leaders Debate tonight? It begins at 8:00 p.m. EDT (6:00 p.m. MT) and will continue for two hours. You can see it on CPAC. As the Globe promo says, “you can find the CPAC channel in your area at www.cpac.ca.” Or you can “livestream the debate on globeandmail.com, on GM apps, and on YouTube – The Globe’s channel as well as the YouTube Canada Election 2015 Hub.” Welcome to new age “access to politicians,” everybody.
But if the cheap cable channel and the new technology is too uncomfortable, don’t worry. Again, according to the promo, “The Globe and Mail is… offering a live feed of the debate to any broadcaster who wishes to air it on their own channel.” Maybe one of the other networks will pick it up. Has anyone heard one way or the other?
Sponsored by the Globe and Mail, focused on “the economy,” this debate is supposed to be one of those “new format” debates that would bring greater diversity and democracy to our Canadian federal election campaign.
Quite the contrary. The current schedule of English-speaking leaders debates is a sham, symbolic of all that is wrong in the political culture of Canada today. Three leaders (all men) agreed to terms which excluded the fourth. All three, Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair, agreed that the one English-speaking federal leader who personifies the environment which is essential to our economy, the one who is perhaps the most articulate of the bunch, and the only one who is a woman, could/should/would not take part in a national “leaders” debate on the economy.
How could they do that in this day and age? How can we not call them to account? Why have they all put their personal partisan interests ahead of public access to our politicians?
We have come to expect that our current Prime Minister, who should personify “Canadian values,” always stages his access to the public. Limited public appearances. Vetted audiences. Non-attendance at all-candidates meetings. “Talking points” instead of spontaneity. Press conferences held rarely. Questions curtailed, and preferably pre-approved. Partisan practice ahead of public access. It is one of the most pernicious anti-democratic characteristics of the current government.
The schedule of “leaders debates” is only the latest example of how the Harper government has manipulated the media to limit their own access to the public. And the media have bought into it, taking whatever crumbs they can get.
Mulcair and Trudeau, vying for our vote in the name of “change,” have become enablers in the same game. Is this the new norm? Is this the standard we expect of our politicians?
Actions speak louder than words. Who is standing up for principle? For public access to our politicians? Elizabeth May? Forced off stage by common agreement among our wannabe PM’s, she has had the wit to organize her participation in the debate using her Twitter account. Hers is a brilliant response to a sad situation. Check out her simultaneous commentary on http://twitter.com/ElizabethMay. I understand that you don’t need a Twitter account to get access to her comments. I, for one, will watch the debate on my computer and follow May’s comments on my iPad.
Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau apparently see nothing wrong with a debate that excludes Elizabeth May. Tom Mulcair has also refused to debate when Stephen Harper does not take part. A debate organized for months on “women’s issues” (note the label, as if “women’s issues” have no effect on men), is cancelled as a result. And “the National Leaders Debate” organized by the major media networks for decades, with an established audience of over ten million, and scheduled for October, is apparently not going to happen.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of “information suppression.” These leaders debates are no different from muzzling scientists, controlling public servants from the PMO, and whipping Parliamentarians to pass deliberately misnamed laws that fly in the face of all the evidence.
I am tired of politicians telling me whom I can and cannot see, and what subjects “they” will or will not discuss. Why is “the economy” okay? And “women’s issues” not sufficiently important to warrant public debate? Is it because the track record of the Harper government on women’s issues is abysmal and, since Harper refuses to discuss it, Mulcair won’t either? Ridiculous! Politicians are supposed to be servants of the people, not the other way around.
If you want my vote, let’s see some principles in action.
*** If you are as tired of partisan “information suppression” as I am, please share this post using email or social media sharing buttons just below.
The Toronto Star has just announced that the women’s coalition, We’re Up for Debate, has obtained pre-recorded interviews about women’s issues from Mulcair, Trudeau, May and Duceppe, but not Harper. The interviews will be screened, debated by experts and televised live from the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto on Monday September 21st at 6:30 p.m. Free tickets are available from We’re Up for Debate. It’s not a “national leaders debate” on women’s issues, but it is a grassroots response to unprincipled political actions.