A fair campaign? – Editorial

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

When this famous quote was uttered by François-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, the Enlightenment period French philosopher, one of those who inspired the French Revolution in 1789, representative democracy was practised only in Great Britain in a substantially restricted fashion as compared to today.

The political establishment of the era did not have the giant machinery of contemporary politics, with finely tuned rules, regulations, bylaws alongside campaign managers, opinion polls and TV debates. Yet, there were men, like Voltaire, who could defend the right of any idea to be propagated without limitations.

Fast forward some 230 years, Canada, one of the leading democracies in the world, is in the throes of a debate over whether Green Party leader Elizabeth May should be allowed to take part in the nationally televised debate of the political leaders.

By the time these lines have been printed, the debate, in English, will have taken place without Ms. May among those taking part.

No one ever doubts that our election on May 2 will be free and fair, but I am afraid the campaign leading to the voting day can be described anything but fair, because of this brazen indifference to the principle of equality.

If Green Party has fulfilled all the requirements to be included in this federal election, and as such, if the party is entitled to ask the electorate for their votes by explaining its platform, how come Ms. May is excluded from the debate?

The managers of consortium of broadcasters who made the decision to exclude the Green Party from the debate should be ashamed of themselves because their decision is no different from similar edicts issued by strong men, be it in Belarus, or Venezuela or Uzbekistan, where the limitations to freedom of expression are never questioned.

The head of the consortium who made the decision to leave Green Party outside the debate was quoted as saying that Ms. May was included in the debate before the last election because at the time the party had one seat in the parliament.

I could not think of a worse pretext to deny the Green Party the right to appeal to the public from the same platform as the other party leaders: This campaign is about the next parliament, not the outgoing one.

If we are to be constrained in our choice to listen to only the parties represented at the House of Commons, what kind of freedom of expression are we talking about in one of the leading democracies of the world?

A fair election campaign should mean a level playing field to all parties that are listed on the ballots.

And in a democratic society, election laws should make sure that broadcasters are not the ones who decide what electorate will and will not hear in a nationally televised election platform.

It’s a pity that none of the four leaders could be as brave as Voltaire to withdraw from the debate to protest Ms. May’s exclusion.

Just Posted

Stettler woman faces drug trafficking charges

Trial set in Red Deer Court of Queens Bench

Stettler Health Foundation has a lot to smile about

Stettler Tim Hortons donates $2,994 Smile Cookie proceeds to local health foundation

Stettler man found guilty of illegally trafficking wildlife

Hunting license suspended for three years

Our Town Stettler

Main Street in the early 1900s

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Yellow Vests protestors take to Red Deer streets

Trudeau government’s immigration and oil industry policies denounced at rally

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

‘I practically begged’: B.C. woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Facebook reveals bug gave apps unauthorized access to 6.8 million users’ photos

It’s believed up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers had access to Facebook Stories, private photos

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

Most Read