A privatized debate to disinform the polity

A point which is overlooked completely by the monopoly media is the significance of the assault on the CBC and the Broadcast Consortium simulcast format used to date. SAM HEATON*

110501-OttawaMayDay-32crop4The Maclean’s Magazine leaders debate on August 6 served to disinform Canadians, mostly because it was a platform for a self-serving exchange of each party’s calculation of what will garner votes. It had nothing to do with posing how the problems facing the society might be provided with solutions. But a point which is overlooked completely by the monopoly media is the significance of the assault on the CBC and the Broadcast Consortium simulcast format used to date. As a result of the fact that it has been abandoned in favour of a form of privatized debates, the political discourse is even more incoherent than was already the case under the Consortium debates which already kept the electorate out in the cold.

100123Tor-NoProrogue20Cr2The hype about the debate showed that it was in fact Harper who set the agenda and, as the alleged main contender to be dethroned, everyone positions themselves to what Harper says and does. The determination of who would win and who would lose was based on his party’s attack ads and the tone they set for himself and his opponents. This is evident for instance in the case of the leader of the Liberal Party Justin Trudeau, whom the media said had to do x, y and z to “prove himself,” all based on countering the Conservative smear campaign.

Canadians are used to discussions about the election debates being reduced to “Green or no Green? Bloc or no Bloc?” They are expected to sit back and wait to see what the powers that be decide. However in this election, the manipulation of the debates by parties with seats in the Parliament was seriously unscrupulous before the campaign even began. In cahoots with the private interests working to smash the Broadcast Consortium debates, Harper announced in May 2015 that he would not participate in them and this destroyed whatever national converging point existed, as provided by the system of simulcast election debates.

Other parties collaborated with and enabled this in the most self-serving manner by positioning themselves to “take on” Harper as contenders to the throne rather than as a partners with Canadians from coast to coast to coast who are working to defeat Harper by changing the direction of the economy and making government uphold public right, not monopoly right. If the other parties with seats in the Parliament had said right off the bat that they would only participate in the established, simulcast debate format and not cooperate with the schemes of Harper, Rogers, the Globe and Mail, Peter Munk or anyone else, Harper would have been completely isolated. His “debates” would have become nothing more than campaign speeches, and he would have had to relent or face an empty podium when the televised debates took place.

Instead, the NDP not only immediately accepted invitations to these alternative debates, it also said it will not participate in the simulcast televised debates, or any debates in which Harper is not present. An opportunity to hold the Harperites to account for their manipulation instead became a game of follow the leader.

All this corroborates what Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC) National Leader Anna Di Carlo wrote the day of the debate (see Renewal Update No. 135). The electoral system has fallen into disarray and disrepute and the public authority has been undermined, something further confirmed by the agenda set by Harper and the connivance of the monopoly media to destroy the simulcast debates organized by the Consortium.

This has opened the door to the most self-serving manoeuvres based on no principles at all let alone democratic ones.

Maclean’s says, “The consortium model made sense when broadcast technology was exotic and cost a mint.”

If that was the only problem, and broadcast technology is now allegedly conventional and cheap, then let’s open up the debates to the views of all the political parties, including those who advocate for the rights of the working people of the country!

Instead, what goes for a debate these days is being dictated by privileged political parties and the private interests they represent, this time dragging any vestige of the public authority down with them.

*Sam Heaton is the MLPC Candidate in Ottawa West–Nepean

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