It appears as though 3 of the 4 major national political parties have balked at the suggestion that Elizabeth May represent the Green Party at the televised leader's debates.

The Green Party is a valid national party, now with a seat in Parliament (although the member was previously an Independent who switched to Green, not an elected Green MP).

According to The Canadian Press,

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday that letting May into the debate would be in essence allowing a second Liberal candidate to participate.

He said it would be fundamentally unfair to have two candidates who are essentially running on the same platform in the debate.

Really?

Harper gets to decide on who gets to participate in the debate based on his assessment of the uniqueness of their platform? That's not how democracy works. The leader does not get to decide which voices get to be heard, or which issues will be discussed.

All this exercise tells me is that the televised leader's debates are nothing more than sanitized synchronous press releases. If it was a valid and honest debate, the Green party would be represented (as well as, perhaps, a few other parties).

And Harper wasn't the only leader to threaten to boycott the debates if the Greens were allowed to participate. The only leader that welcomed May was Stephane Dion. Which means that Layton and Duceppe are right up there with Harper in avoiding a real, meaningful, democratic debate.

Threatening to boycott a debate if another valid candidate is invited to participate? Childish and undemocratic.

Update: And for the Canadian media outlets that decided to not invite May to the debate so as not to upset the other candidates - you just lost any shred of objectivity. You are no longer a separate, objective, impartial media. You are nothing more than media outlets. You are not journalists, you are not unbiased. You are a press-release distribution network. The right thing to do would have been to respond to the 3 candidates that they are welcome to participate in the debate, and would be missed by the voting public if they choose not to show up.

Update 2: w00t! score one for democracy in Canada! The Green Party will be at the debates!