In a recent poll, Canadians made clear that they want to see Elizabeth May in the election debates. However, that doesn't mean that they'll get to see her. In the debate to extend Canada's mission into Syria, May was not allowed to speak. Michael Harris writes:
The Tories denied May the right to speak about the government’s plan to expand Canada’s war with Islamic State into Syria without a plan and without a costing. I guess they prefer to listen to Defence Minister Jason Kenney’s lies and obfuscations. That’s what Harper specializes in: a democracy where he and his puppets always have the floor, and the rest are reduced to Lilliputians quivering in forelock-tugging silence.
And during the last election, May was banned from the table. A consortium of broadcasters refused her entry into the debates. There are no rules about who gets to participate:
The consortium itself has no clear rules or criteria to guide its decisions. Worse, other parties have manoeuvred secretly to keep the Green Party out in past debates. A total absence of rules and hidden political machinations to create an Old Boys club of the debates is not a confidence-building combination.
But what happened in 2011 had everything to do with Stephen Harper:
As [May] wrote in her book Losing Confidence, “The Consortium was told in January 2007 that if I was included in the debates, Stephen Harper would refuse to participate.”
Harper had tried to veto the Green Party’s participation from the shadows. It almost worked. May was told by by Mike Duffy — not the consortium — that she was out of the debate. According to Duffy, then at CTV, three out of four party leaders had nixed her participation. The networks had disgraced themselves caving in to politicians like Harper.
May has been the only leader who has clearly opposed Harper on principle:
May fought like a lion against Harper’s Parliament-destroying omnibus legislation. Why is this type of legislation fatal for any representative democracy? Four simple words tell the tale: Government spending goes unverified. Thank you, former Harper information commissioner Robert Marleau.
May also came up with wise amendments to the government’s “Fair” Elections Act, a creepy piece of legislation which will make cheating easier and actually work to suppress the vote. Catching ballot bandits will now be next to impossible. Nor will Canadians know of their attempted crimes unless they lead to charges. Under the provisions of this cynical and regressive piece of legislation, there will be no more robocalls warnings issued by Elections Canada.
May was the first party leader to come out against Harper’s latest eruption of Darth Vaderism, Bill C-51. If you believe that removing civil liberties and lowering the threshold for police state tactics makes us safer, this is the bill for you.
The passengers aboard the good ship Harper are jumping -- John Baird, James Lunney, Christian Paradis, Shelley Glover. If May is at the table, the reasons for their departure will become crystal clear.
Who's afraid of Elizabeth May? You can bet that, first and foremost, it's Stephen Harper.