The more debates, the better for Canadians

“We can leave a podium empty at the debate for [Stephen Harper] in case he reconsiders.” – Elizabeth May

OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP (Saanich – Gulf Islands) issued the following statement regarding the Harper Conservatives’ decision to decline the Debate Consortium’s proposal of four debates:

“In the 2011 federal election, the Consortium of Broadcasters that carried the debates reached 14 million Canadians from coast to coast to coast, from remote communities to urban hubs, through a variety of easily accessible formats: 10 million English-speaking Canadians and 4 million French-speaking; that represents approximately 50% of Quebec and over 40% of all of Canada.

“Stephen Harper’s decision to decline the debate consortium’s proposal is an obvious attempt to fragment the audience and limit easily accessible coverage to all Canadians, including residents of rural and remote communities with limited access to private broadcasting, high-speed internet, and web streaming.

“The Green Party believes that the more debates, the better. All Canadians have a right to view the federal leaders’ debates, and the Prime Minister has an obligation to answer Canadians, as do all other federal leaders. Imagine what would happen if the President in the U.S election refused to participate in debates with the CBS, CNN, NBC, and ABC networks.

“We have gladly accepted the consortium’s proposal, as well as the proposal from Macleans Magazine. I will also accept any debate proposals from other providers as they emerge.

“As we saw in the New Brunswick provincial election last year, when the Progressive Conservatives declined to participate in a network debate with the Green Party and others, the debate was scheduled to continue without the Conservatives until they rejoined after public outcry; I am pleased the Consortium will follow this precedent and will continue on with or without Stephen Harper – we can leave a podium empty for him at the debate in case he reconsiders.”