Updated with debate video.
Held earlier this evening at the Palomino Room at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, the 2015 Globe and Mail Canadian leaders’ debate featured Prime Minister Stephen Harper with the Conservative Party, Justin Trudeau with the Liberal Party, and Thomas Mulcair with the New Democrat Party. Leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, seen as holding a legitimate voter base, and welcomed by 79 percent of Canadians, as reported by the Ottawa Citizen, was not invited.
May currently commands a range of poll numbers: from near 10 percent in British Columbia to a low near one percent in Quebec, as reported by the Huffington Post. Latest figures show that U.S. Republican Marco Rubio currently holds 5.3 percent of Republican voter favor, according to Real Clear Politics. Leaving Elizabeth May out of Canadian debates is roughly equivalent to leaving Rubio out of the Republican debates.
Earlier this week, Elizabeth May announced that she would be live-tweeting her answers to questions posed to other party leaders in real time during the debate. In her home B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, May commands high levels of support, said to be near 100 percent. She is also popular throughout British Columbia. The separatist Bloc Quebecois is seen as usurping potential Green Party supporters in that province.
Unlike in the United States, Canadians vote for local candidates, rather than for the Prime Minister. Winners of each riding are then added up across the nation and the party that wins the most seats in Parliament names the Prime Minister. Elizabeth May has been vocal in her belief that Canada’s “first-past-the-post” electoral system needs reform, as reported by the CBC.
By the end of the debate, Google Trend analysis showed that Elizabeth May was running neck and neck with all three leaders, and she wasn’t even in the same building. For someone who the Globe and Mail deemed not worthy of allowing to speak, those on the internet appeared to be quite interested in what May had to say.
The candidates were posed questions about job growth, climate change, tax breaks, and several other issues facing Canada. Each time one candidate attempted to speak, the other two would seem to attempt to talk over top of them. At several times the replies of candidates were difficult to understand over the voices of the others. There seemed to be few solid plans set forth, by anyone, perhaps, except Elizabeth May.
By choosing to use Twitter instead of having the Green Party not represented, May found a receptive audience. An unexpected consequence was that she was able to clearly and eloquently convey her message, in a manner that may be easily researched in the coming days. Footage from Stampede Place showed an entirely different scene, full of posturing, jockeying, and bickering.
Near the end of the debate, Elizabeth May made light of the infighting. The Green Party leader also noted a complete lack of discussion with regard to women’s issues.
A selection of Elizabeth May’s live tweets are included here. Check her feed for the full list.
[Elizabeth May Screenshot Courtesy Green Party Canada]