Bob McInnis at the Alberta Election 2008 blog is reporting that the Leaders' Debate has been set for Thursday, February 21st at 6:30. Good on CTV and the parties for not having the debate on a Tuesday night - that's Jericho night, baby!
The leaders involved will be Ed Stelmach (PC), Kevin Taft (Lib), Brian Mason (NDP), and Paul Hinman (WAP). George Read, leader of the Green Party, has reportedly not been invited to participate.
Now, here's the thing: The Greens are polling AHEAD of the Wildrose Alliance. What that means, in layman's terms, is more Albertans are interested in what George Read has to say than they are in what Paul Hinman has to say.
I know, I know: The Alliance has an elected MLA, and the Greens don't. The debates are usually reserved for the parties with elected members.
HOWEVER... the NDP elected no MLA's in 1993 - did they not still get a seat at the debate in 1997? For that matter, from 1971 to 1985, not a single Liberal sat in the Legislature... I'm a bit young to remember, but is someone suggesting that no Liberal participated in the debates in 1975, 1979, 1982 and 1986? They elected 4 MLA's in 1986, was that without a spot in the debate? Granted, the Greens have never elected a member to the Legislature, and those other parties had...
George Read is, by most accounts, not the best speaker. The Green platform, although well-intentioned, is clearly written by environmentalists with little grasp of political reality. But, many experts and pollsters report that the environment is one of the most important issues to Albertan voters. Despite the handicaps they face, the Greens are still polling equal to or very near the WAP, and JUST shy of the NDP.
What do you think, Nation? Should the Greens have a seat at the debate, or is 5 too many?