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