Greens’ May says she'll be in federal leaders’ debate

Green leader Elizabeth May says it looks like she’ll be in the leaders’ debates during the federal election campaign this fall.

“I never really doubted that having won my seat and now having two Green members of Parliament, with proven strength across Canada, the Greens could be excluded,” said May, the representative for Saanich-Gulf Islands, in a statement.

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“Still, I am grateful and relieved that the consortium has confirmed Green party inclusion well ahead of a writ drop,” she said.

On Monday, the Green party received a letter from CBC editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire, the chairwoman for the 2015 Leaders’ Debates Broadcast Consortium.

The consortium is a group of core broadcasters (CTV News, Shaw Media, CBC News, Radio Canada) that produces election debates. Representatives are meeting now in anticipation of a federal election in the fall.

“We are inviting you to a meeting in Toronto on April 24 to discuss dates and formats,” reads the letter from McGuire. “Can you please confirm your attendance or the attendance of a designated representative.”

Asked to confirm that May will be part of the debates, Liliane Lê, consortium spokeswoman, said in an email today that invitations were sent to the parties to discuss the federal election debates.

“However, the consortium will not provide any additional comments until the meeting with the parties takes place,” Le said.

May was not allowed to take part in the 2011 debate because the Green party had no MPs in the House of Commons. She was included in the 2008 debate after Liberal MP Blair Wilson crossed the floor to the Greens, giving the party a member in the House.

Frank Graves, president of EKOS Polling, says his company’s tracking shows May is slowly becoming a household name in Canada.

“In 2009, one-third of Canadians did not feel able to express an opinion about her one way or another,” Graves wrote in an article for the website iPolitics. “Today, just 15 per cent are uncertain, and her approval and disapproval ratings have both grown by similar margins.”

He said the Green party consistently receives the support of eight to 10 per cent of Canadians.

“At 47 points, May is statistically tied with [NDP leader Thomas] Mulcair for the title of Canada’s most respected leader,” wrote Graves. “Regionally, she is well-liked in British Columbia, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, although her standing in Quebec leaves something to be desired.”

EKOS Polling asked Canadians if they thought May should be part of any leadership debates, and respondents said yes, by a margin of nearly three to one.

“Most striking is the fact that this view is shared by Canadians of every political stripe — with majorities of each party's supporters backing May's participation in any 2015 federal election debates,” Graves wrote.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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