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The Bloc breaks ranks


 

This is interesting. In justifying its decision to shut the Greens out of the debates, The Consortium (bwahahahaha) claimed that “three parties were opposed.” That would be the Conservatives, the NDP, and the Bloc Quebecois. But now here’s a release from the Bloc, claiming

Contrairement à ce qui a été véhiculé dans certains médias, jamais le représentant du Bloc Québécois auprès du consortium des médias … n’a mentionné ou même laissé entendre que la présence de la chef du Parti vert pouvait remettre en cause la présence du chef du Bloc Québécois aux débats des chefs. Mentionnant que le Bloc Québécois préférait que les débats se déroulent entre les chefs des quatre partis présent à la Chambre des communes, Stéphane Gobeil, le représentant du Bloc Québécois a explicitement affirmé que le chef du Bloc Québécois allait participer aux débats, avec ou sans la présence de la chef du Parti vert.

So they said they preferred that the debate take place among the four old-line party leaders,  but they never said they wouldn’t show up if Elizabeth May was included.

I have a feeling this is backfiring badly on all concerned. Have a look at the CBC story on this sordid business: there are more than 750 nearly 2000 comments attached. (This Globe story: 590-plus.) A firestorm, in other words. I wonder who will be the next member of the Gang of Three to buckle.

MORE: What’s particularly galling is that every one of the players who made this entirely self-interested decision are funded in whole or in part on the public dime: the political parties, the CBC and Radio-Canada, but also Global, CTV and TVA, who make off with massive implicit and explicit subsidies. They’re conspiring against the public interest, on the public’s dime!

MORER: So as things stand, if you did hold a Greens-included debate, you’d pull Elizabeth May, Stephane Dion, and Gilles Duceppe. If Jack Layton could be prevailed upon to come, then the only remaining holdout would be Stephen Harper. (I know he’s nervy, but could he really duck the debate?)

What about it, Jack? Or does your membership in the emerging NDP-Conservative axis — same regulation-heavy environmental policy, same disturbing fixation on the leader, same interest in dishing the Grits — preclude it? I know it’s hard to back down when you’re busy telling everyone what a strong leader you are, but turn it into a selling point. Jack Layton: strong enough to change his mind. Weak is the new strong.

Ask yourself: what would Obama do?

MOREST: DemocraticSpace has a round-up of blog reaction. Favourite post title: Elizabeth May Scares 3 Out of 4 Party Leaders.


 
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The Bloc breaks ranks

  1. “I wonder who will be the next member of the Gang of Three to buckle?”

    Jack Layton. Harper will NEVER buckle.

    Why?

    Cuz he is the GLOAT – Greatest Leader Of All Time.

    Steady man. Family man. Sweater man.

  2. Andrew, I’m not sure you’re in any better position to decide what the public interest is than they are. I say this to you as an individual, not the editor of McClean’s, which also has a lot of market protections from foreign competition, etc….

    In particular, as part of the public, I have no interest in seeing any debates from parties without already having *elected* seats in the last parliament, or a history of elected seats (perhaps a traditional party gets ejected for a term or two) . Otherwise, any party, no matter how small, or extremist, is going to be demanding time during the debates. This will just lead to a decrease in the quality —which is already quite poor— of the debates.

  3. Aside from the lack of parliamentary representation, you have Elizabeth May on record as supporting Stephane Dion as Prime Minister. Dion would have an echo chamber at the debate. I know he needs all the help he can get but that’s not fair to the other leaders. Just today, May e-mailed a Liberal candidate encouraging him to get elected. (H/T National Newswatch)

  4. Steve, you absolutely have a right to your opinion.

    I trust you’ll give me and perhaps a few other Canadians the chance to at least hear what this woman has to say. And hear it in such a way as I can compare and contrast her style and policies against other political leaders.

    In exchange, I will not require you to watch it.

  5. Dion said today that he wouldn’t show up if Harper didn’t, for what it’s worth.

  6. “They’re conspiring against the public interest, on the public’s dime!”

    Who says excluding May is against “the public interest”? A bunch of left-leaning commenters here?

    I think having a maverick blowhard on the stage, who has absolutely nothing to lose by participating, and whose only interest in the debate (and the election) is to torpedo Stephen Harper, is completely unfair to Harper.

    May has no incentive to debate fairly. She is not going to score a massive electoral breakthrough. Near as I can tell, she couldn’t care less if she didn’t win a single seat in the election, as long as Harper doesn’t win. She’s even cheering for the Liberal running in Flaherty’s riding!

    You might as well let boudica or T. Thwim or bigcitylib on the stage instead; you’d get the same result.

  7. Layton won’t cave because he knows if EM gets in the debates, he/his party will have the most to lose.

    Actually, he’d probably prefer if it was just him and the other holdout, Harper, on stage for one-on-one debates. It’s an unwritten and unspoken pact.

    My opinion – let her in. It’ll be entertaining.

  8. “I think having a maverick blowhard on the stage, who has absolutely nothing to lose by participating…”

    Who said anything about inviting John McCain?

  9. Did boudica et al get 664,000 votes at the last election? Are they at 10 per cent in the polls — ahead of the Bloc?

  10. Mike Moffat, lol…

    Seriously though, anytime I’ve seen Elizabeth May on a panel of some kind, she’s a steamroller; she talks over everybody, she interrupts everybody…Kinsella once had to tell her (nicely) to shut up and let him talk, and they’re supposed to be on the same side.

    The debates are already difficult enough with 4 leaders talking over each other; adding May into the mix would destroy any chance at coherence.

  11. I’d love to hear from Green Party supporters.

    What do you make of your leader’s public endorsement of Stephane Dion as Prime Minister?

    The same guy who supported Kyoto but as environment minister oversaw CO2 emissions in Canada increase not decrease.

    I’d particularly like to hear from the Green candidate running in Flaherty’s riding. Do you feel Elizabeth May’s love?

  12. No, but their prospect for winning a seat is about the same.

  13. Especially if they’re shut out of the debates!

  14. “Did boudica et al get 664,000 votes at the last election? Are they at 10 per cent in the polls — ahead of the Bloc?”

    Yeah, I love this disingenuous line of argument which pretends that the Greens are a marginal party on par with Christian Heritage and Rhino.

    I think you’re right that a firestorm is brewing over this…and I think that, if they don’t let her in, it could actually siphon some votes off to the Greens.

  15. “The debates are already difficult enough with 4 leaders talking over each other; adding May into the mix would destroy any chance at coherence.”

    I don’t remember this argument being made in 93-00 when we had 5 party leaders in the debates, nor do I remember arguments being made that Reform shouldn’t be let in because PC is already there.

  16. John G:
    “Who says excluding May is against “the public interest”? A bunch of left-leaning commenters here?”

    I believe that itwas that noted left winger Andrew Coyne, writing in Pravda, who said this.

  17. Of course the Bloc wouldn’t agree to give up its seat at the debate to May. That would solve everytning and then we’d be left with only the sweater-vest issue.

  18. Jarrid, I wish you’d provide some links. I’ve been all over the front page of National Newswatch and didn’t find a thing.

    I didn’t see or hear May endorse Dion, so I wish someone would provide a link to the video.

    Not that I am (or at least I wasn’t until this nonsense) a Green supporter, but I’d like to see this for myself.

  19. I like the fact that with Harper predicting that May will throw her support behind the Libs before the election ends, he’s basically backed her into a corner.

    She said she deserved to be in the debates because she would never endorse the Libs.

    Now if she later comes out in favour of the Libs and Dion she’ll damage her credibility, prove Harper right, and show that the networks were right to keep her out of the debates.

    Harper forced her to choose between the debates or a possible “secret plan” with the Libs. She picked the debates and wound up getting neither.

    Game theory. Learn it.

    Harper is playing chess while others are playing checkers.

  20. Jenn writes:Jarrid, I wish you’d provide some links. I’ve been all over the front page of National Newswatch and didn’t find a thing.

    Related:

    Yet, Ms. May suggests she is not a Liberal sympathizer at all.

    She may have been able to persuade Canadians of this and win votes from folks who believe in fair play. But the chances of that faded quickly when it was also learned that the Green party leader was publicly cheering on a Liberal party candidate, Brent Fullard, who is running against Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Oshawa, Ont.

    Ms. May wrote an e-mail to Mr. Fullard, ccing a large number of Liberal and NDP politicos, saying “I cannot help myself!!! GOOD LUCK BRENT!!! You and Doug [Anderson, the Green party candidate] together can expose the massive incompetence of Mr. [Jim] Flaherty.”

    Google: John Turley-Ewart: Elizabeth May torpedoes the Green Party… again

  21. “I believe that it was that noted left winger Andrew Coyne, writing in Pravda, who said this.”

    Chris B, didn’t you know, like Elizabeth May, Andrew Coyne is a big Stephane Dion booster.

  22. “I don’t remember this argument being made in 93-00 when we had 5 party leaders in the debates, nor do I remember arguments being made that Reform shouldn’t be let in because PC is already there.”

    I think the fact there was no argument says it all. Anyone looking dispassionately at the situation can tell the Greens aren’t an electorally serious political party (yet) like those parties were. Trying to reduce that call to some black-and-white formula is futile.

    “I know it when I see it” — Justice Stewart

  23. Jenn – May’s support for a Liberal candidate is on he main page in a story entitled “Greens out of leader’s debate”. That story doesn’t talk about May’s statement endorsing Dion as Prime Minister. That statement she made some time ago, perhaps when she cut a deal with Dion that they wouldn’t field a candidate in their respective ridings. But she did say it, and it was reported in the news.

    The article referenced by Dot above outlines the quixotic relationship between May and the Liberal party.

  24. How very leftist.

    How very mediacentric.

    How very pro-Dion/Greenesque.

    It doesn’t matter that in the hundreds of seats up for grabs in the past several elections the electorate has decided that the Greens are not worthy of a single seat.

    Apparantly an angry mob of commenters should decide that their party is to be elevated to the National stage shared by the other parties who have been elected hundreds and hundreds of times to parliament.

    Apparently if the angry Green mob’s wishes don’t supercede what the voters have clearly decided,

    its “undemocratic”.

    Sorry Andrew, I realize this is your hero’s (Dion)pet issue, but how bout we let the public decide that the Green party is worthy of being in parliament before we pretend that May is the leader of a party vying to lead the country (or at least having a vote the house that can effect the laws of our land).

  25. “I think the fact there was no argument says it all. Anyone looking dispassionately at the situation can tell the Greens aren’t an electorally serious political party (yet) like those parties were.”

    LMAO. I think this is probably the most retarded of many arguments I’ve heard for excluding the Greens yet. Congrats!

  26. The case against the Green Party’s participation in the debate is twofold:

    1. No elected MP’s in Parliament.

    2. Elizabeth May is on record endorsing one of the other debate participants, Stephane Dion, as Prime Minister.

    The relevance of the beady-eyed separatist leader’s position on the matter is not particularly relevant.

  27. “The relevance of the beady-eyed separatist leader’s position on the matter is not particularly relevant.”

    Right, as opposed to the relevance of the position of an angry Tory blogger?

  28. Wow…read through the posts and you really get a picture of what’s was wrong with the current parliament. It’s somehow WRONG to actually agree with anyone from another party.

    Harper’s wildest dreams would put him at 45% support, which means, for those of you who do math: THERE’S STILL MORE PEOPLE THAT DON’T LIKE HIM THAN DO. This is the most uncompromising, dogmatic, hypocritical, opportunistic federal politician we’ve seen in Canada in decades.

    Harper doesn’t care about ANYTHING other than getting a majority. bear that in mind Cons – he’ll devour his own to get there if he has to!

    We need MORE polticians that are actually trying to find common ground, and are open-minded to proposals by other parties – more like E. May!

  29. Looks like CBC.ca has suspended further comments too. The number has been stuck at 637 for the one article and 22 for the Your Voice section for over an hour. They’ve probably been bombarded with them.

  30. As a Green Party candidate, I’d like to address this comment:

    “I’d love to hear from Green Party supporters.
    What do you make of your leader’s public endorsement of Stephane Dion as Prime Minister?”

    First, can he writer please do as asked and provide something to reference this claim, because many who want to cannot find a reference.

    But I doubt you’ll find an actual quote to back this up.

    In fact, Elizabeth May did not “endorse Stephane Dion for Prime Minister” as has been claimed by many.

    What she said was that she thought Stephane Dion would make a far better Prime Minister than Stephen Harper.

    In fact, Elizabeth lists Stephane Dion as her second choice for Prime Minister from the current slate of candidates for the position. She herself is her first choice.

    Therefore, as a candidate, I have no problem being in complete agreement with this position.

  31. Harper and Layton are showing what strong leaders they are. They couldn’t possibly debate May, lest she show people just how strong they are.

  32. Right on, Coyne.

  33. Per Kody: “Apparently if the angry Green mob’s wishes don’t supercede what the voters have clearly decided,
    its “undemocratic””.

    When did we vote on whether to allow May into the debate Kody? When did I give my proxy vote to a consortium of broadcasters?

    But you didn’t write that with a straight face, did you.

    Jarrid: Although you didn’t provide a link, let’s say she did say something like that for argument’s sake.

    Is it because she’s a woman that she’s held to a higher standard than the other leaders (who have NEVER said something they later reversed themselves on)? Can you honestly sit there with the Election Law and Income Trusts so fresh in our minds and stick with that “she said it, so should be punished” attitude? And even if you can, why is it that only the woman actually IS punished?

  34. One must wonder why “the Consortium (bwahahahaha)” allows the Bloc to debate in the English debate when the Bloc does not run candidates outside of Quebec. Stupide, non?!

  35. Mr. Hubbers, thanks for responding. It was reported in the media at the time of the Dion/May agreement. Here’s an excerpt from the Press Release issued by the Green Party dated April 13th, 2007 entitled “Statement by … Dion and … May:

    “Out of respect for each other and out of our shared commitment to a greener Canada, we are not running candidates in each other’s ridings.

    We recognize that a government in which Stéphane Dion served as Prime Minister could work well with a Green Caucus of MPs, led by Elizabeth May, committed to action on climate.”

    This was widely interpreted as a Green Party endorsement of Stephane Dion as Prime Minister at the time.

    There you have it folks. Not an off-the-cuff remark by May but actually set out in a press release.

  36. She didn’t endorse him. She said she could work with him. *gasp*

  37. Pardon me if I’m mistaken, but at the time of the 2000 federal election, weren’t the Conservatives changing their name to “Alliance” and making weekly overtures to commit to having the PC party join them?

    Really. It’s a tad hypocritical for Stephen Harper’s party to be lamenting the possibility of two like minded parties on a single stage.

  38. I think this is the article people are referencing when they say May has essentially endorsed Dion for PM.

    During the news conference May touted Dion as the answer to Canada’s climate change struggles, saying she has worked closely with him and has become convinced he is the best choice to lead Canada.

    Personally, I don’t have any strong feelings either way for letting May in or not but to appeal to be let into debates on the basis of democracy when you’ve denied the people of Saint-Laurent-Cartierville the chance to vote Green is just a bit rich.

  39. Mark, it was Reform that changed their name to Alliance, but your point stands.

    Compared to the Bloc or Reform in 1993, the Green Party in 2008 is a freakin’ electoral powerhouse.

  40. “I think the fact there was no argument says it all. Anyone looking dispassionately at the situation can tell the Greens aren’t an electorally serious political party (yet) like those parties were.”

    The Green Party has more common interest to me than the Reform did or the BQ does. Unlike these regional interest group parties, the Greens are at least pan-Canadian.

  41. I disagree with everything the Green’s stand for. But shutting them out of the debates is utterly disgraceful and anti-democratic.

    Having said that, has anyone considered that Ms. May is not bilingual? How exactly would she participate in the French debate?

  42. The so-called green party has never had a member ELECTED to Parliament. The only Member they do have is a disgraced former Liberal who crossed the floor after some shifty, shady backroom deal. Since the so-called greens DO NOT enjoy the confidence of the electorate, they do not deserve a place in the televised debates. I am very proud to be Canadian today. Very proud.

  43. Ben,

    Elizabeth May is bilingual.

    Even if she was not, however, that did not prevent Preston Manning from reading a prepared statement in 1993 and just stare at the camera for the rest of the debate.

  44. Is Obama campaigning to get Ralph Nader included in the presidential debates? I hadn’t heard that before.

  45. Dear Andrew,

    I don’t get it. Why did the nameless, faceless, politically unaccountable Consortium members choose Oct. 2, the same date as the U.S. vice presidential debates for the one and only English language debate in Canada? How can they possibly compete with the boring fare they are getting ready to serve up? Seems like a dumb business decision to me. It’s as if they don’t want us to watch. What’s going on?

  46. re: Ben Hicks comment
    You clam that you “disagree with everything the Green’s stand for. But shutting them out of the debates is utterly disgraceful and anti-democratic.”
    You disagree with marijuana legalization, writing off 50% of student loans upon graduation, locally produced food, fair trade, reduction of income taxes, eliminating income tax for those making under $25,000, reducing carbon emissions, making transit passes tax-deductible, health care – not sick care, care for seniors, a Guaranteed Livable Income, water as a human right, universal child care AND bio-fuels from waste (as opposed to Ethanol which currently makes up as much as 10% of vehicle fuel and is made from corn)? WOW! So you enjoy not having preventative health care and having food wasted for fuel? I guess thats your personal decision, but it makes no sense to me.

    Although I am glad to hear that you feel that it is un-democratic to exclude Ms. May from the debates.

  47. Do you think it’s easy to debate environmental policy?

  48. @ Wassim

    My apologies. I was under the impression she wasn’t billingual. Good for her.

    @ Peter: Dude! Tax dectuctable transit passes?! I stand corrected. I don’t disagree with everything the Green’s stand for.

  49. Debra: It seems an odd one, and the only answer that I’ve been able to think of is that the Canadian networks have decided that since their shows probably won’t compete well with the Biden/Palin debates anyway, they might as well keep their own election coverage from driving viewers to the American networks.

  50. she has already stated her preference for PM is Dion. if she wants to know who made her irrelevant, she should look in the mirror.

  51. tc: Please don’t spread this lie. I don’t like May, and I think the party has gotten worse since they lost Harris, but the truth is that her stated preference for PM is herself.

  52. how about this:

    http://www.greenparty.ca/en/releases/13.04.2007

    “We recognize that a government in which Stéphane Dion served as Prime Minister could work well with a Green Caucus of MPs, led by Elizabeth May”

    she did this to herself. if she hadn’t i would get behind the push to include her. in fact, i voted green last election. but you don’t get to bring cheerleaders into the debate.

  53. “If you’re a party not likely to form majority government, you better be prepared to work with anyone who will listen to get your policies through”-Green party leader heaps praise on Dion
    Mike De Souza, CanWest News Service
    Published: Thursday, December 07, 2006

    sounds like advocating for dion. he can do that himself.

  54. “And then there’s a son of this city — Stephane Dion.

    A man with whom I have fundamental disagreements about how Canada should build and renew itself.

    But also a man who is, if I may say so across the partisan divide, distinct from his principal opponents in being a committed Canadian and a man of principle and conviction.”
    – Jack Layton, September 10, 2006

  55. he’s saying dion is a decent man, which he is. he’s not saying he looks forward to working with PM Dion because he’s the best man for the job. can you honestly not see the conflict here?

  56. Good grief, so you think our government shouldn’t make the best efforts to work together and make compromises where they can, but instead remain fractionaly and essentially divided on every issue?

    This is essentially what May has indicated, that she’s willing to work with other parties, and would likely find the Liberals easiest to work with, much like the Bloc would probably find the conservatives easiest to work with (that is assuming that the conservatives were actually willing to work with anyone at all.)

  57. if she wants to do that when she’s in government that’s fine. but she has openly stated a preference and advocated for a dion led goverment. you won’t hear duceppe saying that people outiside Que should vote for harper because he’s decentralist. no cheerleading in the debates. seems pretty simple to me, but i guess..

  58. tc,

    It still sounds like advocating for Dion, at least to some degree: “… distinct from his political opponents.”

    But moreover, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Layton saying it. It’s good to give a shout out across the partisan divide once in a while.

    Canada could probably somehow survive.

  59. tintin, i agree. my point is that EXPLICITLY advocating for someone else should preclude you from the debates. jack never says he prefers a dion led government, even if think we know he does. words matter, and she is responsible for hers.

    look, full disclosure: im not sure who i will vote for if at all. steve wants to put me in jail for my social life, dion wants to take my money, and jack.. whatever. the point is she is the one who screwed herself. blame the consortium, blame harper.. in the end, she made a strategic error, and caused her own irrelevancy to the debate, or at the very least made it more difficult for herself.

  60. TC, by Layton siding with Harper, he’s formed an implicit pact with the Conservatives, and has thus endorsed Harper over the other parties who have a chance of forming government this election.

  61. “Why did the nameless, faceless, politically unaccountable Consortium members choose Oct. 2, the same date as the U.S. vice presidential debates for the one and only English language debate in Canada?”

    I’d like to know the answer to that one too. Maybe when you’re at CBC for At Issue you could ask Andrew?

  62. layton siding with harper about what? every party has policy overlap, but he still isn’t openly endorsing harper.

    but at least we’ve finally arrived at the crux: implicit vs. explicit.

  63. im going back to work so i’ll leave with this: the greens should be in the debates. may screwed it up.

  64. Just to tell our senior journalist Paul Wells, quite welcome back in Ottawa. How do the Macleans
    magazine does into play with a blog québequois
    chatting line, just as a member of Bloc Québequois
    i will reveal that Richard Nadeau will come strong
    in Gatineau county.I have seen Paul at National
    Press before he s got lots of info from francophones into the capital, with Le Devoir
    and La Presse. Good to see an anglophone doing well into feed back, into other language the written press. I am rooting him about his comments
    because i follow him about his easy language understangding. Just to tell every one that that i
    am registerded to Richard Nadeau s helping hand to
    install public party signs, just main streets post poles.
    Thanks
    Michel.

  65. Perhaps if May were handier with a gun and could field dress a Moose, she’d have something to contribute to this debate.

  66. I think the issue here is about debate. The Greens are a legitimate party. How can it be anything but healthy for the quality of our democracy to have as many leaders as possible engaging in this debate? There are certainly more than 5 different positions held by Canadians. Anyone who wants to be leader of our country should at least be able to answer to 4 others.

    A lot of focus in these responses seem to center around the likelihood of the Greens forming government and around Ms. May’s possible endorsement of Mr. Dion as PM. Respectfully, I don’t see how either of these arguments are relevent to whether or not she should be included in the debate. Whatever her comments in the past, it seems incredibly unlikely to me that Ms. May will endorse the Liberals IN the formal debate. She will be there representing her party, presenting their platform (not the Liberal’s) and arguing for herself as the best choice for Canadian Prime Minister. In fact, the debate is percisely the place for legitimate issues about political positions to be asked and answered. If Mr. Harper is concerned that Ms. May has inappropriately endorsed the Liberals, the debate would be the right place to air that issue and allow Ms. May to respond.

    Actual likelihood of forming government should not be the meter stick by which inclusion is decided. If it is then based, on the history of our country, only 2 parties should really be in the debate at all. There is value in hearing a variety of opinions and positions and making our own decision.

    I am outraged by the bad and thoroughly undemocratic behaviour of the politicians trying to limit political debate and of the cowardly media for bowing to it.

    If a leader is unwilling to attend the debate because of the inclusion of another leader, it should be their right not to attend. They can choose for themselves if they do not want to be heard from. That in itself would demonstrate to the voters how interested they are in the process. They should not be able to use the threat of not showing up to allow them to dictate who can be part of the discussion. Personally I think the threat alone of not showing up was a snub at the Canadian people whose election this is and who this debate is supposed to be for.

    Shame! Shame!

  67. What Elizabeth May said last year:

    “Yes, Stephane Dion would like to see me in the House of Commons and I think that he should be prime minister,” she said, adding with a laugh: “Of course, I’m my first choice for prime minister but he’d be very good as second choice.”

    May also vowed to defend Dion’s record and character, calling him a man of “deep integrity and extraordinary character.”

    “I admire Stephane Dion enormously. … I think it would be despicable to hide the truth from Canadians when I think Stephane Dion’s a fine person.””

    She should be in the bleachers with all the others cheering their favorite candidates on.

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