A "consortium" of television broadcasters has decided not to allow Green Party leader Elizabeth May to participate in the televised leaders' debates, despite the fact that the Greens are running candidates in every riding in the country and have at least one Green member of parliament.
The TV networks claim that the leaders of three other parties - the Bloc Quebecois, Conservatives, and NDP - would refuse to appear if May was included.
"It became clear that if the Green party were included, there would be no leaders' debate," the consortium said in a press release.
"In the interest of Canadians, the consortium has determined that it is better to broadcast the debates with the four major party leaders, rather than not at all."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it would be "unfair" to include May given the Green Party's support for legislation similar to the Liberal Party's Green Shift carbon tax plan and the two parties' agreement not to challenge the riding of the other party's leader.
Perhaps most egregious is NDP leader Jack Layton's collusion in the silencing of the Green Party. He disingenuously said, "The networks decided they will stick with the old rules and we support that."
This is deeply disappointing coming from a party that has long advocated the reform of Canada's antiquated first-past-the-post voting system, which disproportionately allocates seats to the major parties.
In the 2006 election, the NDP won 29 seats but would have won 54 seats under proportional representation (PR). The Green Party won no seats but would have won 14 under PR.
In any case, even Layton's claim that the networks will "stick to the old rules" is disingenuous. The Bloc Quebecois was formed in 1990 but allowed to participate in the 1993 televised debate, even though they only ran candidates in Quebec and had only one member of parliament.
The Green Party already meets that threshold of inclusion, given that North Vancouver MP Blair Wilson switched to the Green Party on August 30, 2008.
The Green Party have set up an online petition to the broadcasters' consortium to let May join the debate, and have also indicated that they will seek legal redress.