I think that it should be obvious by now that the Greens are subject to some very serious discrimination against their fundamental democratic rights. I also believe that the exclusion of Elizabeth May from the televised leaders debate illustrates the systemic nature of this discrimination.
Keep in mind that during the 2008 federal election, the Greens received almost one million votes and were not awarded a single seat in Parliament. To put that in perspective, the Bloc Quebecois received 1.3 million votes and received 49 seats.
As you know, if you follow this blog, we have contested the constitutionality of the voting system that could bring about such a democratic anomaly. Both Elizabeth May and Fair Vote Canada were granted intervenor status. Our appeal was heard on Feb. 8, 2011 and a decision is pending.
The reason given by the television consortium for excluding Ms. May was that the Greens had not won a seat in Parliament. Hey, wait a minute isn't the constitutionality of the very said voting system that makes it such that a million electors forgo effective representation despite their numbers presently before the Quebec Court of Appeal?
Given that the decision hasn't been rendered but is expected shortly and it is entirely possible that the grounds put forward to justify the exclusion of Ms. May would also be rendered untenable if the Court strikes down the use of the very same voting system, the Federal Court should grant an interlocutory injunction that maintains the status quo, which means as was the case in 2008, Ms. May would participate in the leaders debate.
After the Quebec Court of Appeal has rendered its decision, then the question put before the Federal Court can be examined and decided upon. To rule beforehand could expose the plaintiff to irreparable harm since her exclusion from the debate could prevent voters who might be otherwise inclined to vote for the Greens from doing so if they had had the opportunity to witness her participation during the leaders debate. Moreover, her inclusion in the debate would not be prejudicial to the other leaders since they opted to participate in such a debate in 2008.
Clearly, the Federal Court of Appeal has the opportunity to uphold the values of a free and democratic society and we would hope that it would do its part in bringing the systemic discrimination against the Greens to an end.