The media consortium in charge of the leader’s debate has once again excluded Ron Gray, leader of the Christian Heritage Party (CHP), from the national leaders’ debates on October 1 and 2.
The exclusion came after a major outcry forced Canada’s television networks to reverse their initial decision to exclude Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. Thus the leader of Canada’s fifth-largest political party was included in the debates, while the leader of Canada’s sixth-largest party remained locked out.
The CHP is Canada’s only pro-life federal party.
Gray responded to the Broadcast Consortium with a letter requesting his inclusion in the debate. “The CHP is the next-largest registered political party after the Green Party — which has now been included in the debates,” Gray wrote to Robert Hurst at CTV News.
In support of his request, Gray stated that the CHP is eligible for and receives some support from the taxpayers in the form of tax credits for donations.
While the CHP has yet to meet the national five per cent threshold to qualify for the $1.75 per-vote subsidy, Gray said, the Green Party only achieved this status by introducing paper candidates to ridings where the party was not viable.
Gray also took aim at Canada’s campaign finance laws, noting the injustice of the Chretien Liberals and Harper Conservatives cutting from $5,000 to $1,000 the maximum amount a supporter can donate to a political party, while refusing the per-vote taxpayer subsidy to parties that do not meet the five per cent threshold.
This prevents smaller parties from publicizing their policy positions, an injustice to the voter only compounded by smaller parties’ lack of access to public broadcasters.
“It cannot be considered ‘equal access’ when even the public broadcaster fails to inform its audience fully and impartially about all the parties available,” Gray wrote.
“As a former journalist, I am an ardent defender of freedom of the news media… but I am also sensitive to the obligation of the news media to give the public the fullest possible access to the information needed to be well-informed in their role as citizens.”