May: 'Outrageous' that election debate was quickly rescheduled around hockey, but couldn't include her

Green leader Elizabeth May is appalled that a broadcasting consortium couldn’t include her in televised leaders' debates this week in the name of democracy, but it did find a way Sunday to change the day of the French-language debate in the name of hockey.

The five-member consortium organizing the two debates agreed Sunday to bump the French event up a day, to Wednesday, in order to avoid competing for viewers with an NHL playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.

article continues below

“It’s outrageous,” May said. “[The consortium] goes before the Federal Court of Appeal and argues it’s very complicated, everything they are doing, and they couldn’t possibly accommodate a last-minute change. And then the leaders say we’d like her [May] in the debates, but they don’t do anything about it. Now we find out the totality of the hypocrisy.”

May said she’s in favour of not forcing Canadians to choose between the playoff game and the French-language leaders debate.

“I think Canadians shouldn’t have to choose, but this decision proves the leaders and the consortium are ... complete hypocrites,” May said.

The date of the Canadiens-Bruins game was not known until the NHL wrapped up its regular season during the weekend.

May said she remains hopeful the consortium will still change its mind and include her in Tuesday’s English-language debate.

The schedule change on the French debate “was made with the consent of all parties participating in the debates, and is in keeping with the consortium’s goal of ensuring debates are scheduled to reach as wide an audience as possible,” the broadcasters said in a news release.

“The broadcasting consortium believes this schedule modification is in the best interest of the general public.”

The decision came after Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe first raised concerns about conflict.

The Bloc sent a formal request to the consortium, asking that the debate be moved up to Wednesday. He argued that having the classic matchup between the two bitter hockey rivals and the debate on the same night would either split viewership or result in fewer people watching the debate in Quebec.

He also sent letters to fellow party leaders urging them to do the same.

“It would be in the best interest of democracy to allow the maximum number of people to take in the exchange between the leaders by pushing up the French debate by 24 hours,” he wrote.

“In the name of democracy, I ask you to add your voice to mine and contact the consortium as soon as possible.”

In response to the decision, Green Party deputy leader Georges Laraque, a former Canadiens player, wrote in his blog Sunday: “Hockey 1, Democracy 0.”

“Today I feel like democracy in Canada is a complete joke,” Laraque wrote. “I'm in total disbelief that [Conservative leader Stephen] Harper, [Liberal leader Michael] Ignatieff, Duceppe, [NDP leader Jack] Layton and the broadcast consortium decided that the Habs vs. Bruins game this week is more important than hearing from Elizabeth May in the debates.”

May is hoping to unseat Saanich-Gulf Islands MP and Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn. She is also up against Liberal Renée Hetherington and New Democrat Edith Loring-Kuhanga.

The consortium that is organizing the debates includes CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV, Global and the Quebec station TVA.

A “rally for democracy” will be held in downtown Victoria Monday evening to demonstrate against May’s exclusion from the debates. It is scheduled to proceed from 7:30-8:30 p.m. outside the Ambrosia Centre, 638 Fisgard St.

- with files from Postmedia News

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist

Sign up for the Times Colonist newsletter

Most Popular

  • Now Hiring

    Post openings and apply for local opportunities!


    The Times Colonist is looking for newspaper carriers to work in the Reader Sales and Service Department.

Find out what's happening in your community.