Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Let the Green Party Into the Debates...

...Or they'll sue

It seems that, after nearly endless bellyaching about wanting into the televised leaders' debates to be held during elections, the Green Party has finally come around to what is becoming a cardinal rule in Canada.

If they won't give you what they want, sue 'em.

At least that seems to be the message underlying a recent move by the Green party, in which they've hired a lawyer to help Elizabeth May secure a place in the leaders' debate.

"We do meet criteria that has allowed other parties to be included in the past, so we can't really see how it's possible to exclude us this time," announced party spokesperson Camille Labchuk.

Of course she's referring to the recent "defection" to the party by foermer Liberal MP Blair Wilson. The argument is that, now that the Greens finally have themselves an MP (after only 26 years of trying in vain), their leader should be permitted to participate in the debates.

As their test case seems to be the 1993 televised leaders' debate, in which the Reform party's Preston Manning and Bloc Quebecois' Lucien Bouchard were permitted to participate with only one MP apiece (Deborah Grey and Gilles Duceppe, respectively).

Unfortunately for May and the Greens, there still remains one major hump for them to climb before they can make this case: namely, actually electing an MP. When Blair Wilson was elected in 2006, he was elected as a Liberal, not as a member of the Green party.

The Liberal party has now nominated Ian Sutherland as their candidate in the riding, significantly lowering Wilson's chances of being reelected.

Not that this disperses the heavy air of probable collusion between Elizabeth May and Liberal leader Stephane Dion in a leadership debate. Given that Dion has agreed not to run a Liberal candidate against May in her bid to defeat Conservative deputy Prime Minster Peter MacKay, it's hard to expect anything less than a tag-team effort against Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a televised debate.

Of course, some argue that Harper and the Conservatives wouldn't have to worry about such an effort if the Conservative record regarding actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions wasn't so abysmal.

Which would be fair comment, if not for the fact that May is peparing to tag-team with a leader whose record on reducing such emissions is just as poor, and who performed so poorly under the very government that approved the Kyoto protocol in the first place.

Furthermore, the Conservative government has actually produced a plan on how they'll reduce such emissions. And while the Liberal party has since unveiled their vaunted Green Shift program, they've already downgraded that to "Green Shift lite".

And this is the leader May is so eager to team up with.

But all of this is actually immaterial. Until Elizabeth May's Green Party manages to actually elect an MP -- as opposed to attracting a rather convenient defector -- they will continue to suffer from a lack of credibility as a national party.

This lack of credibility should continue to deny them their coveted spot in the leaders' debate -- lawyer or no lawyer.

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