Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Green Rant

An argument is raging over whether or not Green Party leader Elizabeth May should be included in the leaders’ TV debates.

This, of course, is the same argument we had during the last election.

Here's my take.

Seems to me the TV stations should have the right to determine who is and who isn’t included in the debates. If the Green Party and their supporters don't like being excluded let them form their own TV network.

That’s point one.

Point two is you have to draw the line somewhere, and I believe these debates should be reserved only for the leaders of actual bona fide parties.

And to my mind, the Green Party is not a real party.

It’s just the creation of a fawning media.

For years, the media, who love the trendy idea of an environmental party, have given May a free ride.

She’s their darling, an unconventional politician who does politics differently.

Good media coverage then translates into good polling numbers.

And by the way, one other big reason the Green Party gets good polling numbers is because pollsters have been bullied into naming them as an option.

How many times do you see the Libertarian Party or the Communist Party or the Christian Heritage Party listed on a polling survey?

They are just listed under the “Other” category.

Yet, the Green Party is right up there with the Conservatives and Liberals.

And another reason the Green Party polls well is that a lot of Canadians simply like the idea of helping the environment. If you had a Health Care Party or a Let’s lower Taxes Party on a polling survey I bet they would get more than 5 percent support too.

Yet, when it came time to actually vote most Canadians still would rather support a traditional party.

That’s why the Green Party never does as well on election night as its polling numbers indicates it should, much to the surprise of its media cheerleaders.

Indeed, the Green Party has never elected a single MP to the House of Commons, this despite getting May in the leader’s debates and despite all the positive media coverage.

No, the Greens are not a real party.

They are just a travelling road show for Elizabeth May, who figures the best way to save the environment is to run and lose in a different federal riding each election.


Alain said...

I am in complete agreement regarding the Green Party, but I find it even more acceptable to allow the leader of the BQ, a provincial party, to be included. Personally I feel that any worthwhile debate should be limited to the leaders of the only two parties with a chance of wining enough seats to form a government, the CPC and the Liberal Party. Otherwise the amount of time granted to the CPC should be equal to the total amount of time granted all the other parties present, since the choice boils down to the CPC or an amalgamation of the others representing much the same things.

bertie said...

That's two in a row Gerry.Hey i,m beginning to like you.You hit this one out of the ball park.At least have 1 green member elected to Parliament.Are there not other parties and independents running?Where does it stop.They made the big mistake in 2008 and found out the ratings nose dived with her take over talk over attitude.I would prefer no PQ as well as they represent only one province,but what do I know eh!

Lynn said...

"She’s their darling, an unconventional politician who does politics differently."

She is also NOT a very competent politician,she's run for office twice and failed,and failed to convince enough people in any riding to elect one of her members.

Elizabeth May is a FAILURE as a politician and Party leader. "Darling" or not,she just isn't very good at what she does.


Miles Lunn said...

I too support keeping the Green Party out. If they had a seat in the House of Commons or were consistently polling above 10% it might make sense, but they are doing neither. At least in 1993, both the BQ and Reform Party had a seat in the House of Commons at the time of the election are were polling over 10% consistently. That being said, the media should set clear guidelines and at least that would stop all the complaining over this decision.

Alain - While it is true the other parties will likely gang up on the Tories, as long as they remain separate parties and run candidates against each other each should get equal time. Only when they either merge or have an agreement to not run candidates against each other would this make sense. The media cannot seem biased so they need the rules to be straight forward and as fair as possible.

Anonymous said...

Here are 4 reasons May should NOT be in on the debates.

1. No Green MP . . . simple.

2. Last debate she never shut up. No other leader could get a word in edgewise.

3. If it were not for the generous subsidy of Canadians, the Green party would be irrelevant.

4. And the reason they would be irrelevant is because the Enviornment Train has left the station. Most Canadians know that Climate Change is a way for a few scientists to get billions of dollars to scare people.

Martin said...

This will be the third attempt for May, in 3 different provinces. I have no sympathy for their program, but I believe she is holding the party back. Not many other leaders get 3 shots at success.
For all her talk of democracy, she decisevely put down an attempt for a leadership contest recently.

Alain said...

Miles, I understand what you are saying but still must disagree unless the following conditions are met. The interviewer ask each leader specific questions with a limited time for response. I would like to see the questions pertain to specific policy, such as the economy, immigration, etc. Otherwise we one lone leader unable to get a word in edgewise, while all the others spout the same mantra. I do agree that the responsibly really lies with the interviewer/facilitator, but past experience has shown that they tend to allow the opposition parties to run on and on. Furthermore, I do stand by what I said, or meant to say, in that it is unacceptable (not acceptable as I mistyped) to allow the leader of a provincial party (the BQ) to participate in a national debate.

Anonymous said...

Its already been decided...Miss May won't be in the debate.... it will be the same as last time, minus her. That leaves the 3 attack dogs(coalition) going after PM Harper. Some debate.And to make it even worse, its run by CBC/CTV/Radio CBC/TVO/Global. Can you say Liberal?What a farce. At least Harper won't have May screeching in his ear.

Ontario Girl

AToryNoMore said...

Harper must be off his rocker in wanting to debate Ignatieff.

Things are going well and even improving for the Liberals. So what is it that the cons see? Is there something behind the numbers?

Did Harper blurt this out in a non thinking moment or has he lost confidence in his campaign and running alone on this? That begs a more interesting question, like who really is running that campaign?

The cons are trying to shake their identified voter turnout to above 70+ %, but I wonder if there not floating other one time voters to the Grits?

I think the springs are busting out on the conservative campaign and they are showing big signs of campaign fatigue very early in the campaign. After all they have been campaigning all out for the last two years.

Actually I'm quite delighted by it!

sellib said...

I understand the comments made by Mr Nicholls but I disagree with them.

In a vibrant democracy, we should be more inclusive, not less inclusive. The Green Party offers ideas and policy that, in a number of cases, sharply contrast that of the "big three" parties. These differences offer an opportunity for debate and discussion, which is a good thing in a democracy.

As for legitimate: the Green Party had nearly 1 million votes in 2008 - almost as many as the Bloq. The Green Party is "legitimate enough" to qualify for public funding under the Elections Act. The Green Party is running candidates in all 300+ ridings, while the Bloq is only running candidates in Quebec. The Green Party is more than a one issue party in contrast to the Bloq - just read their Vision Green policy document as an example.

Some additional interesting points from
•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 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.

So while I understand the position of Mr Nicholls and the people who have commented here, I feel the Green Party is a legitimate participant both in the election and the debate. The Green Party brings issues to the table that are important to Canadians and that should be heard in this election campaign.

"Expert" Tom said...

I think it's simple, the criteria should be official party status. Period. The end.

I'm always amused at the comments from some along the lines of "Harper must be crazy, Iggy will wipe the floor with him one-on-one." Have they ever seen Iggy speak? He can't even wipe the floor with very Liberal friendly interviewers let alone a seasoned pro like Harper or Layton.

Rotterdam said...

The debates:
Yes, tell the Greens to take a hike.You are right, In Holland they poll a little above the Animal rights party.

Debate format recommendation:
Do one on one with top four parties in one night.Ten minutes per topic.
That is the way they did it in Holland. They took the top four parties (VVD,CDA,PVV,PvdA), left the six minor parties out.
Let the leaders got at each other individually 10 minutes per topic.

Example(I know its in Dutch but you get the gist.

Fred from BC said...

bertie said...

That's two in a row Gerry.Hey i,m beginning to like you.You hit this one out of the ball park.

Weird, isn't it? I was thinking the exact same thing.

I didn't watch the last debate for the first time in many years because they were dumb enough to allow her to weasel her way in; I knew what would happen just from seeing her and hearing her speak (or 'screech', to be more accurate) beforehand. She was just as rude, obnoxious and self-centered in the so-called 'debate' as she was on the campaign trail.

While we're at it, if we can't change to a *real* debate format like the Americans have, can we at least dump Gille Duceppe from the English debate? What does he contribute to it?

Anonymous said...

The reason for the debate on tv is so that most Canadians can watch and be able to form an opinion. Every party should be welcomed. People who are saying just PC and Liberal we do have more then two parties in Canada. Get use to it.

JT Elliott said...

First, you are quite correct in identifying that the Green Party of Canada is very different than the other major political parties. What is fascinating about the GPC is that members widely differ on views across the economic and social spectra of political/philosophical thought (despite what the contrived VoteCompass assumes), but are uniquely convergent on several key aspects pertaining to the relationship between Canadians and the environment. Therefore, I suggest that the attribute of being “fringe” is in fact a positive strength of the GPC, since members would be able to have constructive dialogue with any of the three main parties, but would offer a united perspective on environmental issues.
Take for example, that I am a supporter of the GPC, but would identify more with libertarian school of thought (or classical liberalism), and certainly would not advocate the statist policies of the liberal or NDP parties, including a statist approach to environmental policy. However, I am quite disenfranchised with the Conservatives for a number of reasons, not the least of which includes their lack of transparency, authoritarian tendencies to “control” parliament and government employees (including research scientists), and their lack of motivation to achieve any of the environmental goals they have signed onto internationally. For this reason, if a GPC candidate did not exist in my riding, I would be left with two decisions – apathetically remaining at home on Election Day, or spoiling my ballot – of which the later I prefer.
This brings me to my final point and my main contention with your article appearing in the Ottawa Citizen: the discrepancy between polling data and election results. I offer an alternative view which I think is a much more valid explanation – the undemocratic nature of our electoral system forces GPC voters to vote strategically for one of the three main parties that in their view have the potential to win a seat. Unfortunately, unlike the other parties that have been successful at forging a regional identity (Conservatives with the west/rural vote, Liberals with the urban vote, NDP with the industrial/mining vote, and the Bloc in Quebec), the GPC support is spread across the country, as broad and vast as the great landscape of this country that GPC members strive to conserve.
In a twist of irony, our outdated electoral system punishes the one party that has united consensus across all regions of the country, and instead shifts the vote to the four parties that offer nothing but opportunism, populism and decisiveness.

Fred from BC said...

Anonymous said...

The reason for the debate on tv is so that most Canadians can watch and be able to form an opinion.

On what...who is the loudest? Who is the rudest? Who interrupts the most? Who is best at waiting until the very end of their alloted time to throw in a cheap shot that their opponent won't be allowed to answer?

Every party should be welcomed. People who are saying just PC and Liberal we do have more then two parties in Canada.

Having the fringe parties on is just a waste of very expensive air time. They have no hope whatsoever of forming government, so why should we humor them at our expense?

Get use to it.

If you meant to say "get use(d) to it",'s you who had better get used to dealing with reality. There are only two parties that can form government in Canada right now (and for the foreseeable future) and they are the only ones that people are really interested in seeing in the debate.