The decision by CTV to not invite the Green and Peoples Alliance parties is raising eyebrows, and host St. Thomas University has declined to take action.
STU spokesperson Jeffrey Carleton said the school’s administration foresaw this issue being raised, but is reluctant to dictate the content of events held on its grounds.
“It’s CTV’s debate, they can pick their format,” Carleton said.
“They feel with the 45 minutes they have for the live broadcast, having all five parties speak during that time will not be an effective broadcast… So they are looking at parties who have a seat or have held a seat in the legislature.”
He said the same arrangement had been made with CTV before the 2010 election as well, and three parties were invited then, too.
Both the Rogers and CBC debates featured the leaders of all five of the province’s registered parties, including Kris Austin of the People’s Alliance and David Coon of the Green Party.
The French-language Radio-Canada debate only featured the NDP, Liberals and Progressive Conservative Party.
Jean Sauvageau, president of the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations, wrote a letter to both CTV and St. Thomas expressing the federation’s outrage over two parties being omitted from the debate.
“CTV’s arbitrary decision to limit the number of leaders to three, instead of all five, flies in the face of a true spirit of democracy,” the letter read. “In light of the extremely varied electoral platforms advocated by the parties, each one having crucial implications for the future of New Brunswick, there are no valid reasons that can justify the arbitrary decision the network took to exclude two leaders.”
Sauvageau said the faculty federation does not plan to take any other steps to push for further inclusion.
Fourth-year STU student Peter Johnston said that while he thinks CTV should include all of the province’s parties, he hasn’t seen major push back from anyone on campus.
“The students aren’t really complaining,” he said. “So it’s hard for the school to step in. But I think the school should do something. If you want to do a debate you need to host all sides.”
The former St. Thomas University Students’ Union senator said a switch to a five-leader debate would be good for democracy, and likely for CTV’s bottom line. If more viewpoints are represented, he said, more people are likely to tune in.
The debate will take place in Kinsella Auditorium at St. Thomas University, Thursday, Sept. 18, at 6:15 p.m.