Sunday, May 24, 2015

An Empty Podium

Given the firm rejection by Mr. Harper to join in the leaders' debates being arranged by a consortium of broadcasters, it would seem only fitting to have an empty podium onstage with his name attached, in case he changes his mind at the last minute, and to serve as a useful reminder of the prime minister's disdain (fear?) of honest and unbiasd formats.

With their usual perspicacity, Star readers offer their insights about this sad decision. All are excellent, but I am reproducing only a few below:

Confused about leaders debates? It's Harperology 101, May 16
I’m surprised Stephen Harper isn’t insisting the election debates be hosted by 24 Seven, his self-promoting video-streaming website. His heavy-handed refusal to participate in any debates hosted by a media consortium of CBC, CTV, ICI Radio-Canada and Global reeks of the fear he may not be able to exercise adequate control over the form and, perhaps, the moderator of those debates.

In assessing Harper’s decision, it’s worth recalling the under-reported episode this January when the PMO tried to stipulate that reporters submit their questions before interviews and press conferences. According to veteran reporter Robert Fife, both CTV and CBC unequivocally refused to comply.

Following fast on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the government backed away from its stipulation — perhaps realizing that it was the wrong time to curtail freedom of the press.

If Harper wants to accept invitations to debate at events hosted by others, that’s up to him — though the decision of who is to moderate and the rules over any such debates should be carefully scrutinized by every single leader before going along with this scheme.

The debates hosted by the consortium Harper rejects out of hand have been free of biased moderating to date. I am unsure the same impartiality will govern in all other venues Harper favours.

Penny Gill, Dundas

In reference to the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ alternate plans on federal election debates, I urge the consortium to hold their debates as they planned and scheduled them and issue formal and public invitations to all the federal political parties. Whether the leaders attend or not is their problem, not the consortiums nor the voters.

An empty space at a federal election debate will give a very telling message on the interest, concerns and respect the absent leaders have for the people (voters) of this country. The control freak Conservatives must be shown that they are no better than anyone and they will be treated as equally as everyone else in the debates.

Canadians are getting very tired of their antics and this may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back if they continue on their path of arrogance and false sense of entitlement and superiority. I am of the considered opinion that the majority of voters would agree with and support my suggestion.

Gerald McIvor, Winnipeg

Funny how Harper loves to use the big networks to air his propaganda but fears participating in candidate debates hosted by the same group. This could however be a rare opportunity to salvage what’s left of our nation if Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May were to simply seize the opportunity and agree to participate in debates hosted by the CBC/CTV/Global consortium without Harper.

Each could explain why their party is the best choice to put an end to Harper’s destruction of our nation’s environment, democracy, economy, integrity, honesty and reputation while sparing us from having to listen to all Harper’s spin crap. If he chooses not to play – well so be it.

Randy Gostlin, Oshawa

......CBC, CTV and Global should go ahead with their plans to conduct debates. If Harper chooses not to participate, they should set up an empty chair so voters can see what he thinks of them.

Mr. Harper refuses to meet the press in regular news conferences, unlike most PMs and U.S. presidents. He doesn’t trust the media. If he refuses to debate on the “national” television networks, the feeling of mistrust may become mutual.

Joe Spence, Kanata


  1. I read about a cartoon Lorne that showed each leader from the Liberal, NDP and The Green Party on stage, each behind their podium ready to debate. The fourth, for Harper, was a closed closet. I thought that said everything.

    1. Wonderful, Pamela! I would love to see that one.

  2. I think it is the arrogance of fear that is driving Harper and the little freaks in little short pants who roam the halls of the PMO, Lorne. It is telling that this refusal to debate came after the NDP's Rachel Notley took the Conservative's Jim Prentice to the woodshed during the widely viewed Alberta election debate.

    As we used to say in grade three, HRH Harper is a 'scaredy cat'.

    1. Hopefully, Anon, the Canadian public will see through his motives and realize his unfitness for office..

  3. .. seems the astute commenters agree, an empty chair will replace Stephen Harper admirably ..

    1. His absence will tell Canadians all they need to know about the national cowardly lion, Salamander.