WOW. A federal party leader tells voters he wants to continue wasting their tax dollars on a cruel and unprofitable industry nobody needs or wants; and the voice of one million Canadian voters is silenced by a consortium of television broadcasters when Green Party leader Elizabeth May was excluded from leader debates…today was a huge FAIL for democracy in this country.

TV Broadcast Consortium decides what Canadian voters are allowed to see and hear

DEMOCRACY DENIED: Elizabeth May excluded from leadership debates

The Green Party appeared today before the Federal Court of Appeal to challenge a decision of a broadcast consortium to exclude Green Party leader Elizabeth May from televised party leader debates occurring on April 12th and 14th. Federal Court Justice Marc Nadon, after hearing arguments from both sides, refused a judicial review prior to the debates.

This is a flashback to 2008 when the broadcast consortium (comprised of CBC CBC/Radio-Canada, CTV, Global and TVA), which has no set rules and makes decisions on the fly, shut May out of the debates but later relented as a result of a huge public outcry. There is an even bigger outcry this time, but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

There are so many things that disturb me about this, I scarcely know where to begin. The consortium is claiming the Green Party doesn’t get a seat at the debate because it holds no seats in Canada. Is that relevant? The Green Party received one million votes in the 2008 election – clearly there are MANY Canadians who want to hear what Elizabeth May has to say. Voters have a right to hear plans and opinions of all major party leaders on all important issues facing this country. And yet…our rights are being violated by a group of TV broadcasters?!?!

Secondly, the lawyer for the consortium alleged that if May were included in the debate, the other leaders wouldn’t attend the debate and there would be no debate. What’s going on here? Party leaders originally told the consortium they didn’t want May in the debate but seemed to relent, announcing they didn’t mind if she attended. At least that’s what they said publicly. What they said in private must have been something quite different, prompting the consortium’s legal counsel to state they would likely not participate in the debate if May were included. Do we really want to elect a leader who will not engage in meaningful debate and who conspires to silence the voice of one million Canadians and deprive Canadian voters of the opportunity to hear what the Green Party has to say?

And then of course there’s the ludicrous fact that the leader of a political party running in ONLY ONE PROVINCE gets a seat at the debate table, while a registered political party with candidates running all across the country is refused a seat…surreal.   Someone actually responded to one of my many tweets on this subject today, saying “You can’t force other people to listen to your message.”  This isn’t about forcing anyone to listen.  This is about democracy and freedom of speech.  Personally, I don’t want to listen to Harper (or any of the other leaders, for that matter) drone on and on but I would defend his right to take part in the debates.  It’s democracy – something that is becoming alarmingly scarce in this country.  Polling is showing the majority of Canadians want Elizabeth May at the debates.  Anyone who feels they are being “forced” to listen to the Green Party can use the mute button on their remote when it’s May’s turn to speak ;)

Elizabeth May has now asked other party leaders to “step up and demonstrate that they believe in the principles and the practice of a healthy democracy by telling the consortium that there will be no debate without me.“  It will be most interesting to see how the other party leaders will respond to this.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May is embarking on a cross-country series of rallies.  She’ll be here in Halifax on Saturday, April 9th from 12 – 1 pm at Sackville Landing, 1655 Lower Water Street, Halifax.  I’m looking forward to attending that event and showing my support for the Green Party and for democracy.  I hope to see you there!

Michael Ignatieff: “Screw you, Canadian Taxpayers! I Want the Sealing Vote!”

Iggy giving the thumbs up while trying to keep the gag reflex down

CBC reported today that Conservative candidate for St.John’s South-Mount Pearl, Loyola Sullivan, had complained BC Liberal MP Hedy Fry was plotting to shut down the commercial seal hunt and demanded Ignatieff denounce Fry’s intentions.
Loyola Sullivan was formerly Canada’s Ambassador for Fisheries Decimation Conservation and was part of a Canadian delegation at the public hearing held in Brussels, where speakers made their case for and against commercial seal hunting.  Sullivan’s group was present to promote the inherently inhumane Canadian commercial seal hunt as a humane and regulated activity, yet could not bring himself to watch video footage of the killing as it was shown to the hearing by Humane Society International.  According to an eyewitness in the room, Sullivan averted his face until the video had finished.

It was not surprising that Sullivan would indulge in such cheap pandering to the rabid pro-sealing vote in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Nor was Ignatieff’s response to the challenge surprising.  In a statement published on the Liberal Party website, Ignatieff reiterates his support for the commercial seal hunt and his intention to continue to support and defend it.

What was surprising, however, was the tired old chiches and clear ignorance of the issue contained in the official statement.  Using words like “humane”, ‘sustainable”, “traditional” and “commercially viable” are used.  Seriously?  Really?  Wake the hell up, man.

Michael Ignatieff shows a woeful ignorance of the issue.  I have witnessed the commercial seal hunt over the past five years and I find it incredibly offensive he blindly insists the killing is humane.  He has never personally witnessed it, and I suggest he do so this year before even attempting to make such claims.  Likewise, I suggest he look into the finances, comparing the millions of dollars required to keep the failing industry afloat versus the paltry “profits” generated, before considering calling it sustainable and commercially viable.  And of course he drags the Inuit into it, referring to “Aboriginal and fishing communities” and a “subsistent hunt.”  Iggy is enthusiastically pimping out Inuit for the pro-sealing vote, just as Harper’s government has been doing.

Of course, while Ignatieff is banging on about supporting the sealing industry and commercial sealers, what he’s really saying is “Screw you, Canadian taxpayers” since it is the Canadian taxpayer who will be doing the actual supporting of the failing industry and the savage sealers.  Polling consistently shows the majority of Canadians oppose the cruel seal slaughter and object to their tax dollars being used to fund it.  Yet every year the federal government lavishes millions on the crumbling industry.  Seemingly, Ignatieff is prepared to throw good money after bad and continue funding the brutal activity using an unlimited supply of tax dollars from an unwilling Canadian public.  Shame.