A modest proposal

With a fall election in the offing, controversy will soon begin around the televised debates. In the last couple of elections, there has been much to-ing and fro-ing about which party leaders would be included. The television networks have tried to limit the numbers, but there was such a foofarah that they finally relented and all five parties (Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Green) were represented. The outcome was akin to a schoolyard brawl with too many voices and too little time.

I’d like to go one step further and urge that we not only reduce the number of debate participants, but also eliminate one of the parties: the Bloc. Regional parties are fine. For a while. The Reform Party began as a regional party, so did the Progressives in the 1920s. Both eventually morphed or merged to become national political organizations.

The Progressives took 20 years to peter out. The Bloc is still going strong after 18 years but shows no signs of becoming a national party. Unless the Bloc is prepared to run candidates in all ridings across the country, this should be the Bloc’s last federal election.

As for Elizabeth May and the Green Party, which at least contested all ridings during the last three elections, she shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the debates until the Greens capture at least 10 per cent of the vote. In 2008, the Green Party had 6.8 per cent.

Undemocratic? The Bloc has had plenty of time and millions of dollars in public money to become a national force. At current levels of support, the Greens don’t deserve either public money or debate profile.

Democracy would fare a whole lot better if some party had a chance to win a majority. Parliament would be a less fractious place. Legislators would get more done. Voters would be better served. Otherwise, we become Italy without the good weather.

UPDATE: The wrangling began even more quickly than I imagined. An article in the Sept. 11 Globe and Mail, the day after this post, called for a revamp of the debates.

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