Nobody, so far, has adequately explained why the Green party has not already been included in election debates, even as their popularity rivals that of the Bloc Québécois and in some areas the New Democrats — who are included. In my opinion, media decision-makers have stepped over the line as gate-keepers in election debates. The media fails in its public-interest job as facilitators of public democratic debate that includes new voices and new ideas.

It’s no surprise that now the Greens are threatening legal
action to be included in any leaders debates in the future national
election. Greens argue that the rules of debate should be set by
Canadian judges. “The courts will be used only if the Green Party’s
strong arguments and public support are rebuffed by the media cartel.
However, we will not hesitate to go to the courts to defend democracy
in Canada,” said a party spokesman in a press release Sept. 3.

Note
his use of the word “cartel.” With mainstream media desperately trying
to maintain public respect and its audience, do managers really
want to be associated with the word cartel? This “cartel” includes,
according to Bloomberg, a consortium of the public Canadian
Broadcasting Corp., BCE Inc.’s CTV, CanWest Global Communications
Corp.’s Global and Quebecor Inc.’s TVA.

A Canadian Press story
noted that CTV News president Robert Hurst and consortium spokesman
said the networks have met with various political parties including the
Greens and no decision has been reached yet. CP quoted Hurst: “The
question is as always, who should be at the debates and are the Greens,
without any elected members of Parliament, do they have a seat there?”
Added CP: “Federal Court has ruled against the Greens’ arguments for
inclusion in the past, deciding that courts shouldn’t interfere with
the independence of debates organized by journalists, Hurst said.

The
fact that Blair Wilson, who won his seat as a Liberal and most recently
sat as a Independent, has now joined the Greens to sit as the party’s
first MP, muddies even those seemingly-clear waters. As the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert noted: “May has done the networks a service by making it easy to invite her without ostentatiously lowering the bar of admission.” 

Bloomberg’s report, “Canada’s Green Party Demands Inclusion in Televised Debates,” used the quote with the word “cartel.” Most other reports, including the CanWest story, did not.

A CBC story provides some comprehensive background and history of the issue.