A statement by Former Prime Minister Joe Clark supporting Elizabeth May’s inclusion in the leadership debates
The basic purpose of national televised debates in a federal election campaign is to help voters make informed choices among significant political parties offering alternative policies. Clearly the Greens represent alternative policies — and there can be no doubt about the significance of a party whose substantial support base in the country is reflected regularly in actual voting and in public opinion sampling. That reality has been reinforced, since the consortium’s unilateral decision to exclude Ms. May from the 2011 Leaders’ debate, by the expressed readiness of other national party leaders to have her included. In a situation where the Canadian people, and the Canadian parties, consider the Green Party to be significant enough to participate in the debate, this unilateral exclusion is unjustified and undemocratic.Moreover, the decision to exclude flies in the face of the worldwide demand of democratic citizens for more open-ness and more alternatives. As education and technology are forcing political systems to open up, this consortium proposes to use its power to limit the choices Canadians can consider. There are good arguments to change the format of these debates; there is no justification for an arbitrary decision to shut out a significant and legitimate political party, like the Green Party.
The Rt. Hon. Joe Clark