If you missed Elizabeth May’s simultaneous commentary on the Globe and Mail “leaders” debate last night, read it for yourself on Elizabeth May’s Twitter account and on #GlobeDebate Twitter hashtag.

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 of debate which excluded the fourth.  She, who personifies the importance of the environment to the economy, who is perhaps the most articulate of the bunch, and the only woman.

How could they do that? How can we not call them to account? Why have they all put their personal partisan interests ahead of public access to our politicians?

Thursday night’s “leaders debate” is only the latest example of how the Harper government has manipulated the media to limit their own access to the public. 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. Harper is a control freak, and the media is complicit, grateful for whatever crumbs he throws their way.

Mulcair and Trudeau, vying for our votes 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?

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” broadcast 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.

Actions speak louder than words. Who is standing up for principle? For public access to our politicians? Elizabeth May?

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of “information suppression.” I am tired of politicians telling me whom I can and cannot see and hear, and what subjects “they” will or will not discuss.

If you want my vote, let’s see some principles in action.

Take the The National Leaders Debate organized by the “consortium.” Notice the Harperite “consortium” label, designed to excoriate the producers rather than address the needs of the public. It is still tentatively scheduled for October. It is a prime example of gamesmanship ahead of the public interest. “Prime Minister” Harper has refused to participate. Wannabe PM Thomas Mulcair refuses to attend if Harper is not there. Ridiculous! Politicians are supposed to be servants of the public, not the other way around.

If Harper won’t attend, so be it. Manipulation and control are his mantras and this is totally consistent with the most pernicious qualities of his persona and his government. If he doesn’t attend, all the better. The public needs to see the existing opposition debating together. They have more in common with each other than they have with the incumbent prime minister. A minority government, an accord (as in Ontario in the mid-’80s), or a coalition between the existing opposition parties are real post-election possibilities. Voters need to know that this result is a viable democratic alternative (not an aberration, as Harper would say), and that it need not lead to weakness and instability. Besides, isn’t Mulcair wanting proportional representation? A new voting system will need new skills, including the capacity to negotiate solutions between different parties for common interests. Where better to foreshadow that perspective than in a leaders’ debate without the current prime minister?

In a “positive” debate, leaders could score debating points by highlighting common interests and demonstrating their leadership in negotiating to solutions. Wouldn’t that be refreshing? And a real change in Ottawa?

See two prior posts on the same subject:

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  1. Marlene

    At this point, in spite of May’s knowledge, skill and media savvy, the Greens can only take votes away from the Liberals and the NDP, which increases the possibility that the Conservatives will continue in power. And, while doing so, May makes the Cons look bad. So we shouldn’t be surprised that the 3 major parties have not required her to be included in the debates.


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