Strangely while so many people are complaining that our federal elections have been too close together, many of these same people seem to have completely forgotten the mess that was made when Elizabeth May was allowed to participate in the debate in the 2008 election. People claim that they want to see reasoned discussion of issues in this election yet some of those people want the election debate turned into a circus again with the addition of an irrational fringe candidate like Elizabeth May. In 2008 May completely disrupted the debate with shrill interjections and interruptions of the other candidates. Serious issues were lost as other candidates had to battle to simply get a word in edgewise as May kept sidetracking into her strange world of green/socialism. Lets not forget, Elizabeth May is the person who called Canadian’s stupid on her way in to the last election (and people wonder why Greens cant win seats).
Elizabeth May is no more entitled to enter a televised debate than the leaders of parties such as the Christian Heritage Party or the Marijuana party. These groups are electoral non-entities with single-issue stands and small cult followings. While these fringe parties certainly have every right to campaign, they have no absolute right to force their way into a debate being held by a consortium of private broadcasters. I am seeing hyperbolic comments about free speech being infringed upon and I am getting tired of it. Just as reducing tax funding for arts does not infringe on free expression, private broadcasters are not infringing on free speech when they choose what they will televise.
People are disengaged enough from politics as it is. The election debate is a good opportunity for people for people to get a close look at the parties in real contention for seats and it helps voters make their decisions. A mistake was made last time and May derailed this fine electoral tool. This should not be allowed to happen again. Had May been somewhat lucid in the last debate perhaps her participation could be considered but come on, May turned the 2008 into a gong-show. May was given the benefit of the doubt once and we have learned from that error.
Elizabeth May and her fringe party are not entitled to sit at the big table during the debates no matter how deeply their sense of entitlement sits. Come back when you have won a seat or two Liz. Until then your party is on the fringe no matter how loudly your followers howl.
I do hope that the consortium holds their ground on the exclusion of May in the debates. Otherwise we likely will see an end to national televised debates of any relevance as the addition of every fringe group with a loud voice continues to dilute the more important and broad policy discussions that only the major parties can provide.