The outcry against the exclusion of the province’s two smallest parties at tonight’s leader’s debate was a whimper.
Only four protesters, two of them children of another protester, waited outside the debate broadcast by CTV from Kinsella Auditorium at St. Thomas University.
Tara Hay, a protesting social work student at STU, wore a green and white paisley bandana and held a sign that read “U have 2 other options.” Her daughters, Alexis and Marissa Hay, were with her, as was another STU student.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Hay said. “We’re supposed to believe in democracy in Canada, but [CTV is] not obviously caring.”
Jeffrey Carleton, communications director for the host university, said CTV’s decision not to include all parties was largely based on their 45-minute time limit. He said the broadcaster believed it did not have time to hear from every party.
Hay said that is not an excuse.
“They should have budgeted in enough time for all five, or not at all,” she said.
The last debate before the provincial election on Monday saw party leaders quick to argue and attack each other.
The nearly-full auditorium crowd was asked to remain bipartisan, but clapping and hollering occurred throughout.
The conversation focused on government job cuts, and none seemed to have a clear answer of bringing the province to a balanced budget.
Before the debate, both excluded parties made their presence felt on campus.
Green Party leader David Coon and a crew of green-clad supporters were spotted walking through the main cafeteria, shaking hands and speaking with students.
David Graham, a STU graduate and former People’s Alliance candidate, was walking around campus during the debate, telling people about the party.
A People’s Alliance branded purple Ford Crown Victoria was parked a few spaces from the main entrance.
A group of People’s Alliance party supports along with their leader, Kris Austin, said the group was not on campus to protest but was upset he was not invited.
Despite being upset with CTV’s decision to not grant the party he supports a voice in the debate, Austin was looking towards Monday.
“I’m going to go out and knock doors,” he said. “We’ve got an election to win and sitting and listening to those guys hammering away isn’t gonna get us any votes.”