Debate Refusal Could Prove Harper’s Achilles’ Heel : Harvey Oberfeld

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By Harvey Oberfeld

Keeping It Real…

June the 2nd, 2015

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is being even more arrogant than ever in refusing to take part in the broadcast consortium traditional televised election debates.

I have written before about Harper’s arrogance; his dictatorial style; his gagging of public officials; his disdain for real press conferences where real reporters can ask real questions; even his very limited answering of any questions on his visits away from Ottawa …  and even then, only from a favored few or tame fawning local/ethnic media.

But to show that arrogance so publicly, so dramatically and so close to an election is foolish and so insulting to Canadian voters, I believe it could cost him the election … because this time around, more than ever, the SWING vote WILL decide.

And what makes the Conservatives’ decision all the more remarkable … and suicidal … is the latest Global poll, which shows the Tories and Liberals tied at 31% support, with the NDP right up there too at 30% …a dead heat in real terms.

I realize Harper/Tories have agreed to participate in a few other public debates/discussions … from what they see as more independent sources …and what many believe will be more friendly discussions/questioning.

That is NOT good enough.

For those dwindling numbers of Canadians who maintain an interest in government and politics, the national television debates aired/produced  by a consortium of major broadcasters is always much awaited, watched  … and revealing.

This does not mean I am not sympathetic to at least some Tory concerns about the format: I have always resented the overwhelming Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal bias of the supposedly “national” questions/issues chosen by the Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal producers for the two hour broadcast. Why couldn’t they devote at least a half-hour to issues/questions raised by regional political reporters/columnists from the Maritimes, Prairies and BC?

But that is NOT enough of a reason to refuse to participate or even negotiate a more acceptable format.

I suspect it’s more Harper’s fear of facing his/government’s record on many issues: the environment; Enbridge; rail safety; health care; distribution of wealth; human rights; defense etc. etc.

Not to mention a litany of other embarrassments, as so aptly  recited recently in the Comox Valley Record by one letter-writer: “Perhaps Stephen Harper doesn’t want to answer questions about the Duffy scandal, the mess which was made of Veteran Affairs, the suicides by Armed Forces personnel; the lack of equipment for the RCMP; his harassment/auditing of charities who disagree with him; his failure to provide adequate coast guard protection and communication on the west coast, the  $30 billion cut to health care in 2017.”

Exactly.

Harper’s campaign will no doubt contend Canada is in good hands; doing better than most economically; reducing taxes; maintaining a safe, stable society … and moving forward confidently under his experience/wisdom.

No need for pesky questions!

The tv debate by the broadcast consortium SHOULD go ahead … with an EMPTY podium bearing Stephen Harper’s name.

Let the NDP, Liberal and Green LEADERS rip apart the Harper record,; let them put forward their own vision’s for Canada’s future; and let them DEBATE between themselves their differing ideologies and proposed policies for the nation.

And let Harper pay the price for disdaining to give Canadians these two MAJOR opportunities to see, listen to him …. defending his record and setting out his plans for our future.

Because the most important voters … those who have NOT made up their minds … WILL be watching.

Harv Oberfeld

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