Green Party unplugged in election TV debate

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Green Party is you-know-what with envy after being left out of Ontario televised leaders’ debates.

“We’re disappointed we weren’t included,” Jeff Brownridge, Green Party campaign manager, said. “The public wants us there.”

The Broadcast Consortium, including TV network executives from CBC, CTV, Global, City, TVO and CPAC, met with the Liberal, Progressive Conservative, and New Democratic parties to decide who should be included in the debate set for Sept. 20.

Jeff Keay, CBC representative on the consortium, said the objective was to maximize the amount of face time for each party.

They judged the Green Party based on four criteria: the number of members in the legislature, the likelihood of the party effecting the election’s outcomes, whether they have candidates in all ridings and the party’s presence in between elections.

Brownridge addressed the list of qualifications. “We’re running a full slate with one representative in every riding.” As for having an effect on the election outcome, Brownridge argued the Green Party is taking votes from other parties.

“One of the great ways to get into the legislature is the debate, but you can’t get into the debate if you’re not in the legislature,” he said. “It’s a circular argument.”

Even Keay admitted fault with the criteria. “It’s a chicken and egg situation.”

Brownridge questioned the validity of the consortium, and said recent polls have put the Green Party at 11 per cent, with the NDP only two per cent higher.

Keay conceded the decision was not based on any concrete qualifications. “It’s always an editorial comment, which is subjective,” he said.

Ben Chin, Ontario Liberal spokesperson, said the decision was mainly the consortium’s. He said the party discussed their view on the Green Party’s involvement in the debate before the meeting.

“From a Liberal point of view, we have no problem with the Green Party’s participation.”

Although he believed the media would have been non-partisan, Brownridge worried the decision did not reflect the voters’ desires.

“What about the public’s opinion?” he questioned.

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