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The Globe and Mail

Time to revisit Axworthy’s suggestion on debates

The now-ritualistic election firestorm about who should be in the debates and who shouldn't has begun. This is the period in the campaign when the attention shifts to Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and she tries to milk it for all it is worth. May gets this gift because of the never-clear set of guidelines set down from the ominous sounding "broadcast consortium" about who gets to participate.

The clever Maclean's journalist Paul Wells noted on Twitter when this May Day began that many of his peers only get their knickers in knots and pay attention to the Greens around the debate about the debate. The rest of the time they don't necessarily give any heed to the Greens. It does create a strange dichotomy – ignore them in non-election periods yet give them unlimited attention for a slight many regularly perpetrate on them. Maybe it is some form of Weberian guilt being played out by assorted scribes.

The best way to address this over time is to go back and look at what Tom Axworthy, the former Trudeau adviser and Queen's University scholar, presented in 2009. Let's work to establish some sort of debates commission like they have in other countries that can set out criteria in less politically charged times and ensure the debates are worthwhile. Otherwise strap yourselves in for May Day.

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