Elizabeth May not invited to leaders’ debates. It’s time to raise hell.

She belongs at the table, like in 2008

Many of us were shocked today to learn that the TV networks have denied Elizabeth May entry into the televised leaders’ debates this election. That’s right, folks. CTV, CBC, Global & TVA got together behind closed doors and decided that the 1 in 10 Canadians who support the Green Party don’t deserve to be represented during the debates. Yep, the TV execs think they should have the power to decide who YOU — the voters — get to hear from in this election.

Honestly, it’s difficult to understand why May’s participation in the debates is even a question — this matter was settled, quite decisively, in the last election. Today has actually felt like a scene from the film Groundhog Day for me. You may recall that in 2008 something quite similar happened to what unfolded today. The network execs told the Greens that May wouldn’t be invited to the debate table, blaming Jack Layton and Stephen Harper for threatening to boycott the debates if she were there. As we all know, that didn’t last for long. The public outrage was swift, and it was strong. Layton and Harper were dogged by protests erupting at their campaign rallies. Newspapers ran editorials condemning the exclusion, and supportive ink was spilled by prominent Canadians such as former Prime Minister Joe Clark, Judy Rebick of the NDP, and Tony Burman – former head of the network consortium. After two days of being peppered with questions about the matter and trashed on Facebook by his own supporters, Layton caved. Harper soon followed, and the networks relented – May was in. The public display of support for basic democratic principles was nothing short of inspiring, and May’s performance in the debates was admirable — she deemed to have won the English debate by many commentators.

The reasons that sparked public outrage in 2008 still apply today. The Green Party still runs candidates in 308 ridings. We still have broad public support. Canadians still want us in the debates – poll after poll has shown that over 70% of Canadians want the Greens in. The only thing that has changed is that nearly 1 million Canadians supported the Greens in the last election — the only party to receive more votes than in 2006.

And guess what, networks? People are as angry now as they were in 2008. May’s exclusion was the news of Twitter for the evening, and tweets were overwhelmingly supportive of her inclusion. A CBC online poll is showing over 80% want her in. It didn’t take long before Michael Ignatieff was asked about it at an event, and he clearly said he supported her presence. Jack Layton came next, indicating he was fine with her inclusion. The Conservatives say they will support whatever the networks decide, and no comment from the Bloc as of yet. Without any opposition from the political parties, the network decision becomes even more disturbing and utterly indefensible. They do not have the cloak of the other leaders to hide behind this time.

So what’s next? Canada, it’s time to get angry. (Or continue getting angry, since I know you already are.) We told the networks once that we won’t stand for a debate that doesn’t include the Greens, and we can do it again. Democracy is essential. Election-time debates shown on our public airwaves should not be ruled by the unfair and arbitrary preferences of a handful of corporate media executives. Let’s raise hell.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Visit http://demanddemocraticdebates.ca to sign our petition, donate, and more!

2. Vote in CBC’s poll on whether Elizabeth should be invited to the leaders’ debates

3. Like the Let Elizabeth May Debate in 2011 page on Facebook.

4. Email the news directors of consortium members CBC, CTV, Global, and TVA.

CTV:  programming@ctv.ca
CBC:  ombudsman@cbc.ca
Global TV:   viewercontact.globalnational@globaltv.com
TVA:  info@tva.ca
Radio Canada: ombudsman@radio-canada.ca

5. Email the party leaders: Stephen Harper, Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe. Tell them to press the networks to include Elizabeth May.

6. Visit the Facebook pages of the party leaders, and write on their walls that you want them to demand Elizabeth May be in the debates.

7. Tweet your outrage! Use the hashtag #EMayIn.

8. Post about this on Facebook.

9. Tell your friends and family!

Scridb filter

7 comments to Elizabeth May not invited to leaders’ debates. It’s time to raise hell.

  • Ryan Gallant

    Great post, Camille! I can’t believe they’re trying to pull this again.
    On it!


  • Matt

    Thanks for putting up what we can do to help. I can’t believe they would even think to disclude her; Elizabeth May must be included if Canadian elections are to remain free and fair.

  • Richard van Nus

    It is obvious to me that the long cold boney finger of the party in power is manipulating the 5 stations. No doubt probably with threats of advertising holdbacks to those who oppose them. I’m sick and tired of their childish vindictivness and lies. Mohmar Harper, if let in power, would be a typical dictator (his secret wish?.

  • Daryl Vernon

    On the CBC poll yesterday I voted, “not sure”. Last time around, the situation could have been milked for much more than it was, and there could have been sympathy vote had there been no relenting by excluders. And it was only really useful as a longer-term raise-the-profile strategy. But this time exceedingly strangely for a “green” party like this, and detrimental to that building longer-term effect, there is monofocus on one person’s campaign, so debate exclusion kind of flows from that in a way, doesn’t it. Tee-vee is of very limited value for a green cause anyway. There are many other less wasteful, maybe more “guerilla”, ways to get attention. I won’t sign a petition. I’ll probably still vote GPC, but am unsure. Consistent with the lamentable monofocus, GPC might offer, in exchange for having NDP & Lib rivals in SGI step aside, to stand down in many borderline ridings where Cons squeak by. But as I blogged long ago, these are few, and GPC’s contribution would be mostly symbolic (not that the others would accept at this point). Still, the networks are being rather uncreative in exclusion. How about all 5 in, in a series of short mixed 3-leader debates over a couple of hours (only 6 combos)? And room should be made for all parties, although I doubt GPC will argue openly for that kind of inclusion at this stage.

  • E

    The “1 in 10 Canadians who support the Green Party” is a touch silly.

    I can’t figure out how either 7% of the popular vote or “nearly 1 million Canadians” equates to 1 in 10.

  • anna

    @E: here’s a poll that puts support for the greens at MORE than 1 in 10, even with the margin of error: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/inside-politics-blog/2010/01/orders-ekos-of-the-day-010709-33127816013498.html#socialcomments

    moreover, many people “support” the green party but vote otherwise for strategic reasons. one million canadians actually voted green in the last election, but imagine how many more would have if we had had proportional representation!

  • Thomas Braaten

    Of course Elizabeth May should be allowed to take part in the leaders debate. Who in hell do these network bosses think they are?

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