Liberals set up new debate commission with fair rules: Elizabeth May will be in the 2019 leaders’ debates

OTTAWA – Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould of a new Commission to run leaders debates, to operate under fair criteria for inclusion in leaders’ debates during federal election campaigns.

“For the first time since 1968, the leaders debate will be run under fair and transparent rules determining which party leaders are included. For decades, the leaders debates have been run under murky rules and backroom dealings.” said Ms. May. “Ideally, the creation of the Debates Commission would have been entrenched in C-76, the Elections Modernization Act, preventing a future government from unilaterally abolishing it. Nonetheless, this is a big step forward for democracy in Canada.”

In order to be invited to the leaders debates, parties must meet two out of three criteria. The Green Party of Canada meets all three criteria for participation in the debates: a Member of Parliament elected as a member of that party in the House of Commons at the time the election is called; candidates in at least 90 percent of electoral districts; and obtaining either four percent of the vote in a previous election or have a legitimate chance to win seats in the upcoming election.

“It’s a relief to hear that the 2019 leaders’ debates will be free of political interference,” said Ms. May. “In 2015, the Green Party was included in the debate by the consortium of television news directors that previously ran the debate. Unfortunately, Conservatives and NDP worked together, their leaders boycotting the debate, leading to the cancellation of the national English-language leaders debate. Canadians were denied any opportunity to have a single nationally televised leaders debate in English. This outrage led to the improvements we see today. But more must be done to ensure leaders face a penalty if they boycott – or threaten to boycott – the debates.”

The Green Party Leader welcomed the appointment of former Governor General David Johnston as Debates Commissioner. “David Johnston’s experience in a non-partisan role makes him an ideal choice. I encourage him to appoint consortium members to his advisory committee to benefit from their expertise in broadcasting and in organizing previous debates.”