DEBACLE OVER LEADERS’ DEBATES RAISED LARGER ISSUES OF DEMOCRACY, COMMUNISTS SAY

The Communist Party has condemned the Broadcast Consortium’s decision to limit the leaders’ debate to four parties, and is calling for legislation to remove control of the leaders’ debates from the Consortium.

“Leaders’ debates are not semi-private or P3 events; they are essential instruments informing the Canadian public so that electors can cast an informed vote for Members of Parliament and governments in Canada,” Communist Party leader Miguel Figueroa said.

“To allow private actors like the Broadcast Consortium to arbitrarily determine which party leaders the Canadian people will hear debate the issues of the day, and which party leaders will be shut out and silenced – this a serious violation of the constitutional and democratic rights of all Canadian voters.”

“That Elections Canada (the arms-length arbiter of democratic elections in Canada) has no authority or control over the Broadcast Consortium and the seminal leaders’ debates during a federal election makes a mockery of democratic elections in Canada.”

“The Consortium is a club of mostly private corporations which clearly support one and possibly two of the main parties currently contesting for votes, and therefore these media giants have a direct interest in limiting the public’s access to all other political parties, their leaders, policies and perspectives”, Mr. Figueroa added.

“Furthermore, as Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC is required to be impartial in covering the elections. Its involvement in the consortium’s decision to limit debate has betrayed the public trust, and exceeded its authority as a publicly-owned crown corporation.”

“The Consortium’s decision to limit debate to some parties and not others is an infringement of Canadians right to cast an informed vote, without the Consortium or anyone else pre-screening what choices are acceptable and what are not. Electors must be completely free and unfettered to make their own choices.”

“The deliberate blackout of some parties from the airwaves, including the leaders’ debates, constitutes a huge disadvantage to those candidates and parties who are blacked out, and conversely is a huge benefit – a huge financial benefit – to those who are included in the ‘leaders debate’. Those participating will have received a financial contribution – and an illegal one at that – from the corporations organizing the debate.”

“All election debates – organized by media or by electors – should be brought under the umbrella of the Canada Elections Act, and should as a matter of democracy and electoral law, be organized to include all candidates.”

“The debacle surrounding the leaders’ debates is only one of many structural flaws in the electoral process in Canada. The Communist Party is also campaigning for a number of other democratic reforms, including the introduction of a proportional representation system, much lower campaign spending limits which are strictly enforced, the elimination of the $2.00 per vote subsidy which is currently given only to the largest parties, and the removal on the ban against trade unions making contributions to parties and candidates,” Mr. Figueroa said.

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