OP-ED: Yes, Keep Green Party leader Elizabeth May Out

OP-ED: Yes, Keep Green Party leader Elizabeth May Out

Postby Oscar » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:33 pm

OP-ED: Yes, Keep Green Party leader Elizabeth May Out of the leadership debates

September 9, 2008

Elizabeth May is a spirited debater. She wins people over with her openness, breadth of knowledge, passion and humour.

They said Elizabeth May would be in the Leaders Debate when the Green Party had a Member-of-Parliament. Blair Wilson became the first Green Party MP at the end of August. But now the rules are changed; Stephen Harper decides who the electorate will hear. The only female party leader in Canada won't be in the leaders debate.

Why won't Elizabeth be heard? I think they fear her ability to revive democracy.

One in every 22 Canadians voters in the last federal election - 660,000 voters - voted Green. If Canada had proportional representation there would be between 10 and 15 Green MPs in the House of Commons. Because Canada has the first-past-the-post electoral system there are none.

Despite a full slate of candidates and strong results in the past two federal elections, the Green Party of Canada is still excluded from the nationally-televised leaders' debates. How does that compare with the fortunes of parties headed by a male?

In the 1988 federal election the Bloc Quebecois did not exist. Gilles Duceppe was elected in a by-election two years later as an independent, not as a Bloc candidate. Despite having no seats in Parliament, no official recognition from the Speaker and only 75 candidates out of 295 ridings, the Bloc Quebecois was included in both the French and English debates. The Bloc has never fielded a candidate outside Quebec but continues to participate in debates in both official languages.

In the 1988 general election, the Reform Party ran 72 candidates, received 276,000 votes and won no seats. By the time of the 1993 election, the Reform Party's only sitting member was Deborah Grey following her win in a 1989 by-election. Reform did not have Official Party status and did not win a seat in the 1988 election but Preston Manning participated in the 1993 leaders' debate, based on the 11,154 votes Deborah Grey received in a 1989 by-election with a 47 per cent turnout. In 1993, the party ran only 207 candidates.

In 2004 and 2006, the Green Party ran a full slate of 308 candidates and won 583,000 and 664,000 votes respectively, over double the Reform Party's performance in 1988.

In 1979, the Social Credit Party was excluded from the debate despite the fact that it had 11 seats in Parliament at the time of dissolution. And in 1997, both the NDP and Progressive Conservatives were included in the debate despite not having Official Party status.

In 1993, 1997 and 2000 five leaders participated in the televised debates. This was reduced to four following the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives in 2003.

It is an affront to fair play, democratic equity and precedent that Elizabeth May is again excluded from the Leaders Debate. Yes, keep her out. There is no sense pretending that democracy is alive and well in Canada.

Still, I hope that every enraged female will vote Green.

Sandra Finley
Saskatoon SK
Oscar
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