Thursday, September 11, 2008

Local Green supporters happy to gain their seat at the debate table

Yesterday's about face by the Broadcast "consortium" to allow Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to participate in the federal leaders debate, has been welcomed by the Party's local candidate Hondo Arendt and the supporters of his party across the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding.

Like many Canadians, Arendt was surprised that her exclusion from the debates lasted as long as it did, but now that she's in, he's hoping that her presence will translate into a higher profile for his party and a wider audience for their message.

He offered up his interpretations of the events leading up to the reversal in Wednesday's Daily News, which gave the story front page headline status.

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Pages one and three

Green party candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley Hondo Arendt is pleased Green leader Elizabeth May will be allowed to take part in upcoming televised leaders debates. He just wonders why it took so long.
"I think it's public pressure and not just Green but a lot of other supporters who said their leaders were pushing the bounds of fair play," said Arendt

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP leader Jack Layton and Bloc Quebecoise leader Gilles Duceppe all said they would rather not have May present during the debates.

Harper claimed that having May on hand would be like having two Liberal candidates debating.
Harper was referring to Liberal leader Stephane Dion's choice not to run a candidate in May's own riding and May's comments that Dion would make a better prime minister than Harper.
May had threatened a legal case if she was not included claiming that keeping her out was simply "old boy" tactics.

Now that she's in, Arendt thinks people will see a different side to her.

"To actually finally see her for the first time (in the leaders debate) will have a positive impact," said Arendt. "I think Elizabeth May is an intelligent person and a lot of people haven't had the exposure to her as the other leaders so regularly get."

He added that he thought she would fare well in the debate even though she was relatively new to the televised debate format.

"A lot of times, leaders don't do well because they are inexperienced - and the other leaders have been around a while - but she has a lot of public experience in administration and politics and, despite being a newbie at it, she'll do quite well.

Earlier in the day, Arendt said the perception that the Greens would cost the other federal political parties votes was the main reason they were left out in the first place.

"We perceive this as purposely keeping us to the fringe and we hope that turns in to votes for us," said Arendt.

UNBC political science professor Gary Wilson said predicting where voters end up penning their choice is tough.

"People vote for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they vote for a candidate, sometimes they vote for a party, sometimes they just vote in protest and it doesn't matter who they are voting for as long as it isn't the government," said Wilson.

Arendt, who also teaches political science - at Northwest Community College - said that Harper's claim that May would 100 per cent endorse Dion was "laughable."

"A lot of parties will play the card of strategic voting and try to marginalize smaller parties and it generally works."

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