Liberals establish commission for independent leaders’ debates

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Mighty Middle
Liberals establish commission for independent leaders’ debates

The Liberal government has nominated former governor-general David Johnston as the first debates commissioner, tasked with organizing two leaders' debates to be held during the 2019 federal election.

Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould announced Tuesday the government's plan to set up an independent, non-partisan debates commission as well as the criteria for deciding which parties get to participate.

In order for a party's leader to participate in the debates, that party must meet at least two of three criteria:

  • It must have at least one MP elected under that party's banner.
  • It must intend to run candidates in at least 90 per cent of Canada's 338 ridings
  • It must have obtained at least four per cent of the vote in the previous election or have a "legitimate chance" of winning seats, based on polling data and at the discretion of the commissioner

Meanwhile Elizabeth May has not gotten over what Stephen Harper & Thomas Mulcair did in the last debates (refusing to participate in the National Televised Debate). She is suggesting that a penalty be placed in any leader refuses to appear in National Televised Debate. Watch below

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1356818499651

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Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
She is suggesting that a penalty be placed in any leader refuses to appear in National Televised Debate.

The penalty should be "your party wasn't represented and so electors couldn't hear from you" and nothing more.

It's always a bit creepy when someone is compelled to speak.  Even accused murderers can't be compelled to take the stand.

I like the idea of the commission, though.  It's what people seemed to be suggesting the last time the consortium of broadcasters was discussed (i.e.:  "it shouldn't be up to the media to decide who participates"), though I fear the "at the discretion of the commissioner" part could become a football for any party that got 3.8% last time, or polled well somewhere on one day or whatever.

cco

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I like the idea of the commission, though.  It's what people seemed to be suggesting the last time the consortium of broadcasters was discussed (i.e.:  "it shouldn't be up to the media to decide who participates"), though I fear the "at the discretion of the commissioner" part could become a football for any party that got 3.8% last time, or polled well somewhere on one day or whatever.

It's philosophically tricky, for sure, because (especially if the government's running the debate) the only truly fair way to do it would be to include all 21 party leaders, which would be completely useless as a debate. Someone has to decide which parties are "major enough", and every party's going to want that line drawn in a way that includes it and excludes whichever opponents they think are likely to take away votes from them.

I don't like the idea of leaving it up to the media, but I don't like the idea of leaving it up to the PM either. Does Bernier get in? Does the Bloc get excluded for only running in Québec? Are we just ensuring that preexisting parties get an advantage?

Whatever the commission decides, a lot of people will be unhappy. There's no avoiding it.

Sean in Ottawa

Nobody is compelled to run for office.

I agree with May's proposal. I think that if you stand for office you should be open to response and questions from those competing with you.

If not a front-runner can hold their own news and destroy the chance of a real discussion on the issues with the others. Much of the campaigns are negative: there is a principle that you get to confront and respond to the person lobbing accusations against you. A person can run a negative campaign, refuse to debate, hold rallies with supporters and malign opponents. This is not okay. They can use their greater financial ability to change the public perception even about the truth. If you want to run, then we want you to be accountable. Nobody is compelling anyone to speak -- just saying if you want to run and expect any kind of public benefit for doing so, then you will engage in this kind of examination by the public and your opponents.

May is spot on.

It is disgusting what Mulcair and Harper did.

May is also spot on that the debates matter. Increasingly politicians choose their own media and refuse to take questions. Voters should have an opportunity to be informed not just about the policies a party represents but also how they respond to each other and what others are saying.

gadar

Post 4 by Sean is spot on

bekayne

cco wrote:

I don't like the idea of leaving it up to the media, but I don't like the idea of leaving it up to the PM either. Does Bernier get in? Does the Bloc get excluded for only running in Québec? Are we just ensuring that preexisting parties get an advantage?

Whatever the commission decides, a lot of people will be unhappy. There's no avoiding it.

Bernier's party should qualify under #2 and #3, BQ will qualify under #1 and #3.

Sean in Ottawa

I also like that the Liberals are taking this out of a small club deciding on their own political benefit -- an independent rulses-based commission is the right thing to do.

As many know here, I have always considered the Greens to be legitimate as an option and deserving of inclusion. I feel the same way about the BQ and Bernier's party. 

It is not just an issue ofseeing them as an option to choose. You do not need them in your riding to get a benefit form them being there. They should be able to question the others, and respond to the others ideas and proposals. The BQ has been valuable in the questions and responses it has provided that give voters across the country to consider with the local options they have. I would never support Bernier's party, but if he can qualify under these reasonable rules, then his responses are legitimate for voters to evaluate their choice as would be the responses to him.
 

Debates oten spend more time on the personalities than the issues -- however, they spend more time on the issues and accountability than any other election process. We should have the opportunity to hear those we may want to support as well as responses to them from those we would not even consider. Our knowledge in elections is aided by this. I also respect journalism enough to value the ability of their quesitons for each. Of course journalism should not just include mainstream media but some of the more fringe media as well on all sides. Some public options ought to be there as well.

It is a challenge to make this work practically in a debate but often what is worthwhile has a challenge. Formats that work have to be considered.

To have this removed from insider partisans to something more accountaible is a plus.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I don't like the idea of leaving it up to the media, but I don't like the idea of leaving it up to the PM either.

Do you disbelieve the government when they say the commission will be independent and non-partisan?

If the commission comes up with some reasonable rules then I look forward to when it's not up to the media and not up to the PM, but up to the rules.

Pondering

I agree with Sean. If the leader doesn't want to debate they can send a substitute but the party must be represented. 

NorthReport