Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Green Party Shafted from Debates

Once again the Green Party will not be allowed to participate in the leadership debate. The consortium of networks announced that 3 parties were in opposition to their participation. Jack Layton threatened to not attend the debate if Elizabeth May was there. It is believed that Harper made the same threat. Jack Layton has sited the Liberal/Green Party alliance and her declaration that Dion should be Prime Minister as reason to oppose their participation.

The biggest winner from the exclusion of Elizabeth May is Stephane Dion. He already has a tough job ahead with the new carbon tax as the centre plank of his election campaign. The Green Party would also like to introduce a carbon tax. The big difference between the two plans is the Green Party wants to shift into immediate tax cuts. The Liberals have a complicated formula to reimburse those hit by the carbon tax. The Green Shift also includes returning the money to Canadians through tax cuts and social initiatives. As the Liberals have recently admitted that the Green Shift is a statement of principles, Canadians will know what is being taxed without a guarantee of who will benefit from the revenue increase.

It is hard to believe that the networks fell for the threat of a debate boycott. Any party refusing to attend the debate would face a great deal of scrutiny from the public. It would be unwise to follow through with the threat. The networks need to set clear guidelines for deciding who is eligible to participate in the debates. A seat in parliament with candidates in a minimum number of ridings would be a reasonable place to start. There are enough barriers to entry for starting a new political party. The existing parties should not be able to put up more at their own discretion simply because they can.

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