Democracy should determine participation in Canada's electoral debates.
Clear democratic criteria, not a judge, should decide whether or not Elizabeth May participates in the election debates. Our American neighbours have a similar problem, where a front organisation known as the Commission on Presidential Debates (always co-chaired by the former chairmen of the Republican and Democratic Parties) ensures that debates are tightly scripted and essentially closed (15 percent support in the polls is the price of admission) to voices outside the two-party system. In response, the Citizens' Debate Commission (CDC), a big-tent nonpartisan American organisation has adopted the following criteria that strike a balance between openness and order: debates should include any candidate that either: a) registers at least five per cent in national polls or b) registers a majority in national polls asking eligible voters which candidates they would like to see included in the debates. While recent polls show Ms. May’s Green Party under the five per cent hurdle, the Nanos poll on who should be included in the debates shows that the majority (61 per cent) of Canadians support (48 per cent) or somewhat support (13 per cent) Ms. May’s inclusion. This is a valid criterion that our five television networks, who appear to be riding by the seat of their pants, would be wise to consider.
Editor in Chief, Corporate Knights Magazine