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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Party Leaders Pressure Networks into Undemocratic Decision

UPDATE: Thanks to the voices of thousands of people across Canada the party leaders who opposed Ms. May's participation in the televised debates have seen what a motivated public can do to their political aspirations and have backed down. It now appears that Ms. May will be a part of the process. The outcome is good but it does nothing to change the realities that exist in Canada when a handful of political leaders and corporate executives can essentially hold the democratic process and freedom of speech hostage whenever they decide to do so.

Monday September 8, 2008 was a dark day for freedom of speech in Canada and an even darker day for democracy.

On Monday the top executives of Canada’s major television networks, including the CBC and CTV, jointly announced that the leader of a legitimate federal party, the Green Party, which has candidates in over 300 ridings, a member sitting in the House of Commons and which captured the support of over 600,000 voters in the last election, would not be allowed to participate in the televised leaders debates.

The decision was made, according to an official press release by the networks, in the “best interests of Canadians”.

What gives the management of a handful of television networks the right to decide what’s in the best interest of Canadians?

Why doesn’t open debate, freedom of speech and presenting all the candidates to the voting public qualify?

Personally I’m not a supporter of the Green Party any more than I support any of the national parties in this election but that doesn’t change the fact that a blow has been struck to democracy as a concept and in practice.

The reason the major networks made this decision wasn’t because the Green Party leader, Ms. Elizabeth May, isn’t qualified to participate or because she doesn’t represent a legitimate party. The decision was taken for much more nefarious reasons.

The decision was made because the leaders of three other parties, the Conservatives, Bloc and NDP, who are in direct competition with Ms. May for voter support, let it be known that they did not want her included. The Prime Minister himself, Stephen Harper, strongly hinted that he would not participate if Ms. May were on the stage.

Buckling to the will of the more established parties, and fearful that no debate would be possible, the networks decided that they would become the assassins of Canadian freedom and shut the door on Ms. May in the name of protecting all Canadians.

If the networks were truly concerned with what was in the best interests of Canadians they would have allowed Ms. May to debate the issues with the other leaders face to face.

If a party leader decided that he did not want to participate in this open dialogue and if the debate had to be cancelled because of it then so be it. At least the voting public would have been given a clear understanding of the character of those involved. Instead the networks have permitted themselves to be dictated to by buckling to backroom pressures and intimidation in the most anti-democratic way.

Is allowing large influential political parties to effectively shut out their opponents really in the best interests of democracy, of the people of Canada or of any supposedly democratic Country?

Over the past several years we’ve heard the mainstream party leaders speak of the reasons young Canadian men and women are fighting and dying in Afghanistan. Unwaveringly that reason comes back to the need to bring democracy to the region. What kind of democracy does Canada’s leadership hope to bring to Afghanistan when they are so opposed to allowing a political opponent to debate them on the political issues facing Canada itself?

As I have often said, the mainstream media is no longer independent and unbiased in Canada. Far too often they are dictated to by their commercial supporters and their reporters have become too accustomed to the perks inherent in remaining cozy with the subjects of their political stories. As a result nobody knows who they can trust any longer and who is actually delivering the truth or serving to further undisclosed interests.

Currently the Green Party is considering legal action against the networks and has filed a grievance with the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) however it is unlikely that any decision from that body will take place in time to reverse the current decision before the debate takes place.

The Green Party is also running a petition on their web site at http://demanddemocraticdebates.ca/ for anyone interested in speaking out about the very undemocratic action taken by the networks and forced by certain federal party leaders upon the Canadian voting public.


Martin said...

This is another clear example of the slow and incidious decline of democracy in Canada, just as has been happening in the U.S.

George Bush's Republican regime has been slowly chipping away at entrenched rights and freedoms for years. Unwarrented wire taps, the patriot act, incarcerating individuals without the benefit of a fair trial are all examples of an erosion of basic rights.

Stephen Harper, is on the same path.

It starts slowly enough but over time the freedoms we are accustomed to are picked away at one by one and we don't even realize it's happening.

The ideas and ideologies of those who disagree with the current regime are silenced. Laws of the land are usurped (fixed election dates for example). Democratic processes are skirted as in the case of selecting a Supreme Court Justice without following protocol and past vetting practices. The cutting off funding for those who would challenge the government in court over human rights issues. These are clear examples of what is happening in Canada today as it moves from a democracy, flawed though it may be, to an autocratic state where we are only allowed to hear the edicts and pronouncements of the ruling party.

We are on a slippery slope people. Over time, as our rights and freedoms are quietly eroded we will find ourselves in political climate not unlike those that exist in some of the most cruelly run dictatorships around the world.

Now is the time to act. Tomorrow may be too late.

True Progressive said...

The Fascist, corporate, militaristic, secretive (Bush-Bot) Harper Neo-Cons are trying to banish democratic populism. Ohhh, the blatantly authoritarian hypocrisy.

1) Are there not enough Green Party seats ? The (populist) Reform Party only had 1 seat in 1993 and Preston Manning was permitted in the debates.

2) Is there not enough Green Party support ? The Green Party received much more support in their last election than the Reform Party did in 1988. Currently, between 1 million and 5 million Canadians are considering voting for the Green party in 2008. The establishment is obviously feeling threatened by a populist leader whose party is the epitome of progressive, environmentalist policy.

3) The Green Party doesn’t have official party status ? Well, Neither did the NDP and Progressive Conservative party in 1997, but both were allowed to debate .

4) Are there not enough Green Party candidates ? The Greens ran candidates in all 308 ridings in the last election. Now, how many ridings do the Bloc run in again ?

Again, the authoritarian, secretive, manipulative, hypocritical Neo-Cons are behind this.

“You can’t have one leader on stage that has already endorsed the candidacy of another and signed an electoral co-operation agreement,” said Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas.

“When it comes to the debate, they can have May or they can have Dion,” he said.

“But they can’t have both.”

That sounds like the decree of a self-appointed dictator.

Canadian political parties have long had agreements not to run candidates in the riding of the leader of another party. But the Neo-Cons attempt at Green Party banishment and blindly authoritarian hypocrisy shows that that Harper is a ruthless, dictatorial, oblivious Neo-Con just like Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld and Bush. Instead of free debate and genuine democracy, the Neo-Cons have (again) chosen blatant, partisan stifling and hardline repression of opposing viewpoints.

Why ? Because they are frightened of a genuine threat to their entrenched power and their desire to exponentially INCREASE that power.

We are witnessing a full frontal assault on democracy and free speech by Harper & Company.

In 2002, Harper said, “Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.” Harper & Co. have recently devised a politically expedient, ideological flip-flop in order to capitalize on earth-friendly popular sentiment. But they are all Dick Cheney oil men at heart.

Anonymous said...

sniff sniff !!!

The Lone Sailor said...

Well what do you expect. That the election is going to be fair. What a farce. The citizens of this country are brainwashed into believing that we live in a free society. How wrong that assumption is. This government controls most aspects of lives and they do it mainly by robbing us of our hard earned dollars and using it against us. History has shown that these types of societies do not survive, they destroy themselves eventually.

Anonymous said...

Agreed the Green Party leader should be at the debate.

But at the debate Deon and May should be taken to task for their anti-democratic behavior of not running candidates in the opposing leaders contested riding.

Bottom line, May and Deon are hypocrites and do not believe in democracy -- they have proven this by their anti-democratic actions.

Hurray for communism!!