Recent inclusion of the Green leader James Beddome in the short, 50 minute televised and radio-broadcast leaders’ debate has highlighted how necessary it is for Greens to be part of the public debate in Manitoba and in Canada. Let us not forget that GPC leader Elizabeth May, now a Member of Parliament, was excluded from the televised leader’s debates in the last federal election, in collusion with the other parties’ leaders.
<missed the debate? watch here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2011/09/23/mb-election-leaders-debate-winnipeg.html >
Dan Lett highlighted this in his post-debate column. He said: “There have been forums — many, many forums — but none allowed for head-on debate. And almost none of them invited the Green party to join the NDP, the Liberal party and the Progressive Conservatives. A shame to be sure.” He furthermore described our leader Beddome’s performance in favourable terms: “Beddome was earnest and remarkably articulate for a politician who does not have the experience of the other three. He should have been included in all the debates. This one forum is not likely enough to help his party.”
This last statement is important to note, that forums such as these help the parties. If you agree with Dan Lett, that such public forums help parties get their ideas out and gain public recognition, then our question needs to be – as citizens more than as partisans – who is controlling the public debate and what agendas are going into mediating our experiences.
I am not going to answer this question for you. This is something we citizens need to figure out together, through direct communication among ourselves. We need to meet and talk politics publicly, between elections, and regularly. This is why I am proposing that an MLA hold 4 public town halls a year, so people can voice their frustrations, express their issues, and propose community-driven solutions to shared problems.
Realizing that we have many common issues will help us begin to address them, and will set the public political agenda from the bottom-up, not the top down. The divisiveness of this election campaign need only be set against the community spirit embodied during a flood to remind us we have much in common, ecologically, socially, and democratically.
So we need to get beyond the narrow boundaries of debate being set by the corporate media, and establish citizens’ committees on the local and eventually provincial and national levels, to help us keep our elected officials in line and working for us. Maybe with some accountability and public communication, 47% of the citizens eligible to vote will not stay home on election day.
Congratulations are in order to GPM leader James Beddome for bringing up some of the issues and perspectives that make Greens unique from the other parties in one 50 minute debate. But the public needs to hear a lot more. From the Free Press coverage and hopefully if you watched the debate, you will agree that the Green voice is a necessary part of a thriving democracy in Manitoba and in Canada. Greens are hear to stay, so let’s let the dialogue and community discussions begin!
What he needed to do:
When you’re largely an unknown, it’s good to make a good first impression. Most Winnipeggers are probably wondering what the Green Party of Manitoba stands for other than an obvious desire to protect the environment.
What he accomplished:
Beddome played the perfect foil to the other three leaders and was the best performer of the night. He also got more one-liners in than the others — some were stinging.
Plus, getting equal time with the three other party leaders on provincewide television was in itself a victory.
Best sound bite:
“The reason why our (hydro) rates are being driven up is because of new developments. I’ll point out to Mr. McFadyen it’s not just Bipole III,” Beddome said to Selinger. “Gary Filmon was smart enough to say no to Conawapa because he knew it would drive up our energy rates. Are you?”
For anyone doubting the Greens, Beddome made it loud and clear they are a force to be recognized.
“I think we could change the tone of the legislature,” Beddome said. “I really do. I’m hoping we can get in there. It’s going to be a push, but we’re not going anywhere one way or the other.”