This past Monday, I emailed the NDP (along with the Conservatives and Liberals) and asked them if they could provide me with an answer to this basic question:
Why is the Green party not in the National Debate?
To my surprise, the NDP responded. Granted it may be a form letter… it certainly isn’t from Jack Layton, but there is some satisfaction in receiving a valid response to an important question.
With that, here is the full response for posterity. (emphasis was in original email)
Many thanks for your email that called for us to support the inclusion of the Green Party in the televised Leader’s debate. The fact of the matter is that the NDP has absolutely no say about who is invited to the debates, since that is wholly determined by the executives of the networks who choose to sponsor and air the debates. Whether the NDP agrees or not with the decisions of the networks is regrettably, irrelevant.
We are believe that the NDP’s policies, especially on the environment, would stand the heat of scrutiny in a more inclusive debate, and that the inclusion of the Green Party could actually help Canada’s NDP achieve our objectives in this campaign. As you may know, both Greenpeace Canada and the Sierra Club of Canada issued reports during the 2004 election campaign stating that our platform was “greener” than that of the Green Party, and it certainly would have been interesting to see what the Green Party Leader thought of that fact in a publicly televised debate.
On a related note, please be aware that Canada’s NDP does advocate electoral reform and a proportional system of representation that would improve the chances of smaller parties – like the Green Party – of gaining federal seats and being included in future televised debates.
Thank you again for raising this important issue Chris, and please accept our best wishes for you and your family in the holiday season.
Jack Layton and Canada’s NDP
In all, it’s a predictable response. Of course the NDP does not directly control who is in the debate.
I did enjoy the assertion that the NDP was ‘Greener’ than the Green Party… and as such, I wrote this in reply.
Dear Mr Layton and the NDP,
I greatly appreciate your response to my email. Frankly, I am surprised and impressed at the reply but it does raise a number of points in my mind, so forgive me if I pursue one in particular.
If you feel that your policies would “stand the heat” of exposure to the Green Party platform, then why not publicly support an invitation for Jim Harris to join you and the other National parties in the debate?
While, as you said, the wishes of the NDP are irrelevant in the decision making process of the TV networks themselves, I have no doubt that if Jack Layton came out in public and said that, in the interest of democratic inclusion, he would invite Jim Harris into the debates and challenge the other parties to welcome him as well, the networks and sponsors would jump at the opportunity to create some additional ratings.
Again, I greatly appreciate your kind and honest reply and wish you success in your campaigns.
I don’t expect another response, much less them to follow my suggestion, but, points definitely go to the NDP for responding to those who email them on their website.
I have yet to hear from the Liberal or Conservative parties. I also emailed the Prime Ministers email address (email@example.com) this afternoon (before I received this email)… who knows, the naive yet hopeful part of my mind says Ya never know, it could make a difference.