A Winnipeg Free Press article discusses the race in Saanich--Gulf Islands. Candidates in this district include incumbent Hon. Gary Lunn who was previously Minister of Natural Resources, and leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May.
Although May is an opponent of nuclear power, Linda Keen said the Green leader's fair-minded approach makes her a preferable alternative to Gary Lunn, Keen's former boss and May's Conservative opponent in the Vancouver Island riding of Saanich-Gulf Island
While unrelated to technology law or nuclear power, I want to discuss and get feedback from this community on a few questions: Should Ms. May should be included in the television debates? What criteria we should use? What are your thoughts on campaign finance reform?
Of course I am going to offer my thoughts to start us off.
I don't think this should be a decision made by the private broadcasters (which I include CBC television as being -- not much public about them, unlike TV Ontario). I believe that a condition of receiving a broadcast license in this country should be a minimum level of participation in the electoral process. The decision should be made by an arms length body, with Elections Canada being an obvious choice.
I don't believe having seats in the previous parliament, or making "exciting television", should be deciding criteria.
This isn't a debate between candidates running against each other in a district, and there is no riding where any two of these people are running against each other. This is about representatives of the parties, not the people. Given this I believe there is an obvious cut-off, which is the cut-off we use for public subsidies of parties.
An Elections Canada information sheet for Annual Allowances for Political Parties includes:
A registered party that obtains at least 2% of all valid votes cast at a general election or at least 5% of the valid votes cast in the electoral districts in which it ran a candidate in a general election is eligible for an annual allowance. (s. 435.01(1) Canada Elections Act)
We could have a legitimate debate about whether we only include the nation-wide 2% number, or both numbers which allows regional parties like the Bloc to have an easier time qualifying. I happen to believe the criteria for the annual allowance is sufficient, and don't believe it is worth our time to open that can of worms.
This might theoretically mean more people in the debates over the years. We don't elect a President in Canada, and we should be hearing from a representative of all the parties that receive public financing. It not only allows us more information to make our voting choices, but it also provides a good mechanism to ensure accountability of those receiving public money.
The 5 parties that currently receive an annual allowance are the 4 parties who had seats in the previous parliament plus the Green Party. This isn't about playing favourites for Ms. May or the Green Party, but recognizing that they are in a very unique situation in Canadian politics of having comparable number of votes to the Bloc and yet do not have a seat.
What do other people think? There are a few issues to discuss based on the above that go beyond the criteria for the television debates. While I am a strong supporter of public financing and campaign finance reform (getting rid of union and corporate donations), not everyone agrees.