Right now, if you turn on your TV to channels 2, 3, 6, 8, 15, 24, 62, or 104 (presuming you have cable), you will see the leaders of the provincial political parties having at each other. Or, more accurately, you will see Dalton McGuinty, John Tory, and Howard Hampton having at each other. You will not see Green Party of Ontario leader Frank de Jong having at anyone.
As they like to do, the TV networks that collectively run the televised leaders’ debates (CBC, CTV, Global, City, TVO, and CPAC) have once again exluded the Greens from participating. And with the growing popularity of the party on both the national and provincial levels, each exclusion seems more arbitrary than the previous one.
So the Greens have had to improvise. They’re holding their own “Leader’s Debate Response Party” at the Pantages Hotel, to which anyone is invited. “As the questions are asked on television, Frank will take his turn at the lectern to respond,” and even if you can’t make it down to Shuter and Victoria, you can watch the whole thing online. De Jong has also written an excellent op-ed that was published in, of all places, today’s Toronto Sun.
Perhaps even more shameful than the degree to which the media narrow the discourse, however, is the fact that none of the other leaders have advocated for de Jong’s inclusion. And while there’s nothing surprising about politicians putting their own parties’ interests ahead of democratic ideals, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect better from them.
At least one of the leaders debating on TV tonight is going to say that MMP would be good for democracy. What he’ll probably mean is that it would be good for his party—because if he had any genuine concern for democracy, he would recognize that the electoral system isn’t the only thing that needs changing.
UPDATE (8:25 p.m.): According to commenter EricSmith, “nobody mentioned MMP.” Well, at least they were being consistent.
Photo by PenOpticon on Flickr. Jonathan Goldsbie is, for the record, a member of the NDP.