Letters to Leaders: Green Party Debate

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So, for those that don’t know, there is a federal election underway here in Canada.

About 5 years ago, I decided that I would vote based on my number one issue of concern – the environment. I knew that other issues were important (healthcare, education, economy) but were not in as dire a state of mismanagement. We depend on the environment for our very life, yet we are not acting as responsible stewards. Something has to be done about climate change; there is no way around it. Why doesn’t this issue dominate election coverage? It just doesn’t, and I don’t get it.

So in every type of election for the last 5 years or so, I put my voice and my vote down for the environment. Most of the time, this means voting for the Green Party. In most (all) cases, I knew that the person I voted for did not have a chance to win, but I wanted my vote to count towards this issue. I wanted the people in power to take note of the percentage of votes they are losing to the Green Party and to the issue of the environment.

In the last federal election I voted for a party that I had never voted for before – the NDP. The candidate was by far, the best representative towards my number one issue – the environment. She had a good chance to win. She had experience in environmental law and protection, ran her platform as a defender of the environment, and offered up a voice of opposition against the pollution from the oil sands. So, I voted for Linda Duncan and she won, and is currently the only Member of Parliament in Alberta that is not Conservative. She has been very active in defending the environment over the last 3 years.

So here we are again – election time. There are candidate signs popping up in my neighbourhood. Election ads are underway, election coverage dominates the news. Who do I vote for, how do I get involved and how can I further my number one goal – action on climate change?

I will be voting for Linda Duncan again, and she has a reasonable shot to win. I want to support her, and really believe in her message of transitioning to a clean economy, cleaning up the oil sands and ending fossil fuel subsidies. My hope is that she can continue to pressure the government on issues that they would otherwise not consider, and that this will result in more action on climate change.

I also support the Green Party though, and was dismayed to hear that the leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, will not be allowed to take part in the Leader’s Debate on April 12. She participated in the debate in the last election, and received almost 1 million votes. Polls indicate that she currently holds between 8-10% of votes today.

Therefore, as part of my Letters to Leaders series, I emailed the three main networks in Canada – CBC, CTV and Global – indicating my disappointment that she is not allowed to take part:

April 4, 2011

To whom it may concern:

I am disappointed that Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, will not be allowed to take part in the upcoming leaders debate. I think that this is the wrong decision, and that it would be in your network’s best interests to allow her to debate for the following reasons:

1) She represents over 1 million Canadians who voted for her in the last election. Based on the percentage of Canadians who actually vote, this is a significant percentage. Excluding her excludes the voices of all of these Canadians. This is not democratic.

2) She brings a fresh, new perspective that an increasing number of Canadians identify with – environmental stewardship and protection. Few can argue that the environment is the root of all life, from which everything else is possible. It is imperative that the voices of Canadians who speak up for the environment are heard.

3) She represents the future. The future that my children and future grandchildren will inherit must certainly include a clean, green economy. Action of on climate change is required now, to avoid a catastrophe for future generations. Excluding Elizabeth May excludes the voices of Canada’s children, Canada’s future.

Many Canadians who do not identify with Elizabeth May’s message still agree that she should be allowed to debate. Most agree that her inclusion would make for a more interesting, livelier debate. In addition, she will be the only woman in the debate, offering a different perspective than the four other men.

Please switch your position and invite Elizabeth May to the debate. Please recognize that she represents a large number of Canadians, as well as future generations of Canadians. Please keep democracy alive in Canada.



If you would like to add your voice to allow Elizabeth May to debate, you can:

  1. Email CBC (ombudsman@cbc.ca), CTV (programming@ctv.ca), Global (viewercontact.globalnational@globaltv.com) and CBC Radio (ombudsman@radio-canada.ca) and voice your concern
  2. Participate in this poll by CBC
  3. Go to http://demanddemocraticdebates.ca to sign the petition
  4. Go here for even more good ideas

It is a great feeling, participating in democracy in a bigger way than just stepping up to the ballot box. It feels good to have a voice!


10 thoughts on “Letters to Leaders: Green Party Debate

  1. This is great. What a stance you are taking and it is great that you are getting actively involved.
    Here in the states a lot of people think it is actually “irresponsible” to vote for the independent parties because the way our system works they really do NOT have a chance to win any major election. Which some say is basically throwing your vote away or voting for the opposition if they end up winning. So I typically stick with the democrats as they have a better understanding of environmental issues and at least they think climate change is real (which I can’t say for the republicans who still seem to think some crazy hippy scientists are making this all up!).

    • The votes are a bit more split here in Canada, as we have basically a three party system with NDP (far left), Liberals (left) and Conservatives (right). The NDP always win some seats but not very many, and control of the government switches between the Liberals and the Conservatives, with the Conservatives being in power right now. The Greens have never won a seat, but I am hoping they will get at least one in this election. The Conservatives could be compared to your Republicans, except not nearly as right, and not nearly as overtly against climate science. They still take no action though. Right now they are taking no action because they say they do not want to act until the US does, especially in the areas of putting a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade system. However we lag behind the US in the areas of trying to create new green jobs, and in ending subsidies to oil companies. Also, our carbon per capita is higher than yours, probably due to the oil sands and oil refineries.

  2. Wonderful! I admire your letter writing, and hope to do the same! We have this issue in the US too, with third parties being denied access to campaign debates. I have recently chosen to register as a US Green Party voter in hopes of helping third parties gain weight in the mainstream campaign.

    I’m curious as to how many letters you’ve written – just the ones you’ve posted here, or have you written them before? What types of responses have you gotten, if any?

    • I have written another letter to the transit department of my city, which I will post soon. I got a personalized response on that one. The letter to the Minster of the Environment got NO response. I emailed our Prime Minister regarding the defeat of climate bill C-311 last year and got a standard “we have received your letter and will consider it” response.

      My goal is to write 26 letters by the end of the year! I am falling behind but plan to catch up. I think that this area is so important, maybe I will reach someone that is actually listening, maybe I can change somebody’s mind…

  3. Every Canadian, every person living in a democratic country anywhere in the world, could learn from your initiative. Thank you from a fellow Canadian voter! Cheers.

  4. Sherry this is great! Unfortunately for me being out of teh country I haven’t been as up to date on the election but I thought it was appalling Elizabeth May couldn’t participate. I did quite enjoy the students who went to Parliament Hill and duct taped their mouths shut in protest. I just hope more youth get into the debate and vote.

    You are also right that even if the person you vote for won’t win it is not a wasted vote! I hope everyone does their research and votes!

  5. You’re on a roll, Sherry! I admire your letter-writing dedication. It helps that you’re a great writer!

    I didn’t watch the debate because I assumed – correctly – that it would be boring and not touch on the issues I really care about. I’m also tired of listening to a bunch of privileged white males try to convince me they best represent me! 🙂

    • It was pretty boring and uninspiring. Jack Layton brought up the defeat of bill C-311 briefly, but that was it. It amazes me that climate change is hardly mentioned, yet it is the greatest threat we face. I heard Elizabeth May on CBC radio the next day, and based on her interview, she CERTAINLY would have raised the issue. It is such a shame she was denied…

  6. My biggest struggle with the election is do I vote for who I really want to win or do I vote to keep the party out of power that I don’t want to be running our country.

  7. Pingback: Green Canada? | One Earth to Live

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