Will Ontario Get a Fair Leadership Debate?

X marks the ballotDeciding who will form the government is the province of eligible voters. In order to perform this duty, we must first have all the information we need to be able to make informed choices.

Leadership Debates are important because they are in essence a job interview. Just as employers are unlikely to hire someone without an interview, voters want to get a good look at the people in the running for the top job at Queen’s Park. Any leadership debate should include all the potential job applicants.

Anything less is a disservice to the citizens who will shortly be heading to the polls.

Yet the media Consortium formed to decide such things is considering excluding Ontario’s Green Party leader Mike Schreiner from participating in the televised Leadership Debate scheduled for June 3rd.

Although it doesn’t seem to be explicitly stated anywhere, the Consortium’s rule would appear to be that a party leader who has not been elected to the Legislature is prohibited from participating in the debate.

For previous leadership debates at the federal level we have seen Elizabeth May excluded on similar grounds. Yet the Green Party is known to field a full slate of Candidates across Canada. Meanwhile, recent federal leadership debates have included the leader of the Bloc Québécois. Gilles Duceppe actually stated the truth that he cound not become Prime Minister during one such televised debate. But just because the Bloc elects Members of Parliament, even if every Bloc candidate was elected unanimously, there is simply no way the leader of a regional party could become Prime Minister of Canada under our current electoral system. It certainly seems nonsensical for a leadership debate to exclude someone who might get the job while including one who can never get it.

The Green Party of Ontario isn’t just an an upstart fringe party that will be gone tomorrow, it is an established respected Provincial Party with a well thought out comprehensive political platform. Unlike the Bloc, the Green party could produce a Prime Minister or Premier. But the broadcast Consortium chooses to exclude a Party that has fielded enough MPP candidates that it could actually form a majority government.

There is no good reason not to include the Green’s Mike Schreiner in the Leadership Debate.

So I’ve written a letter:

Dear Mr. Weiers:

As you yourself pointed out in your article B.C. election proved campaigns matter more than ever, anything can happen in an election. The most important job for the news media is to ensure citizens have access to the best information. This is why any leadership debate must include any leader who might become Premier. This would certainly include the Green Party of Ontario leader, Mike Schreiner.

The argument that an unelected party leader should not be included simply doesn’t hold water. None of the party leaders thus far included in the debate have been elected to the 41st Ontario Parliament, nor is there any guarantee any of them will secure a seat. Perhaps you might want to think back to the last days of the Mike Harris or Mulroney governments. Anything can happen.

I believe maintaining TVO and CBC are important because impartial public broadcasters are an essential part of achieving balance in any modern democracy. If the consortium excludes the Green Party from the debate, Ontario citizens will not get the information we need to make informed choices. Such a decision would be anything but balanced, nor would it be good for democracy in Ontario.

We citizens need to hear from all the leaders. Now is the time for CBC to take a leadership position and ensure that Ontario gets a fair shake.

Sincerely,
Laurel L. Russwurm


Even if the Ontario Green Party doesn’t form the next government, it certainly has enough support to deserve a voice in the debate. While wearing their broadcaster hats the members of the Consortium should remember that fresh minds bring new ideas and lead to lively discussion and good television.

Looking at the issue from a democratic standpoint, surely a consortium of corporate broadcasters have no business deciding which party leaders that citizens are allowed to hear during an election.  Not very democratic, that.

It would only be fair for the Consortium to welcome Mike Schreiner, the Green party Leader, to the televised Leader’s Debate. Not just for Mike, but for all of us.

As they say on Twitter, #letmikespeak

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To lend your voice to the effort to bring the Green Party to the Leadership debate, you can Tweet directly to the media consortium head, @bobweiers (CBC’s Bob Weiers, the senior producer of CBC News for Elections & Live Events), and/or email the consortium members:

As always, you are welcome to borrow any parts of my letter that may help you to write your own.

P.S.  The Green Party has a “Let Mike Speak” Petition you can sign too..


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The Truth About Canada

Canadian Flag through tree

This talk Mel Hurtig made at the U of T bookstore in 2008 about his book
The Truth About Canada” is still every bit as timely as it was then. If anything it is more important for Canadians to watch this TVO video today:
http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO.woa?videoid?104881070001

census long form

For instance, long before it came up, Mr. Hurtig makes quite clear why the Harper government sought to scrap the Long Form Census. Responsible government planning is not nearly as important to our current government as is the government’s ability to ignore or suppress statistical information so that people like Mel Hurtig can’t write Books like “The Truth About Canada.”

I’m on record as being in opposition to both of our “alternating” ruling parties.
I was asked at one point what it would take to get me to vote Liberal. The idea being that anything that would unseat the Harper government would be an improvement.

But I tend to disagree; a minority Harper Government is less dangerous than a majority Liberal government, because without electoral reform the only time Canada has anything approximating democracy is when we have a minority government.
That’s when they at least give the appearance of listening to citizens.

This is particularly important when dreadful secret treaties like ACTA and laws like the current draft of the Canadian DMCA, Bill C32, are on the table.  Political considerations aside, the bulk of Canada’s elected representatives appear woefully ignorant about the Internet technology or the underlying issues they are being pressured but corporate special interest groups to rush to legislate.

the text reads Now is the time for REAL change - National Party of Canada

Both of our alternating ruling parties have demonstrated the ability of ruling contrary to our interests when they rule by a majority. You know what they say about absolute power.   (As this is Canada, throw in a dash of patronage and quid pro quo…)

Pretty much the only way I would vote for either of the alternating parties would be if they had Mel Hurtig running things. He’s pretty much the only person I would actually trust as our Prime Minister.  Even though he has not yet weighed in on Bill C32 or ACTA, I suspect that Mr. Hurtig would at least understand the issues before rushing through legislation against the interests of citizens.

[Thanks Bob!]

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