Kitchener-Waterloo

Elizabeth May says including Bernier in debates a 'fair decision'

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May calls the Leaders' Debates Commission's move to include Maxime Bernier in the televised English and French debates next month a "fair decision."

May said she respects the criteria the commission used to invite Bernier to the debates

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said she respects the Leaders's Debate Commission's decision to include Maxime Bernier in the national televised leaders debates next month. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May calls the Leaders' Debates Commission's move to include Maxime Bernier in the televised English and French debates next month a "fair decision."

"You couldn't find two party leaders more diametrically opposed than Max Bernier and me. But he has a right to be in the debates," said May at a campaign stop at the University of Waterloo.

"It's a fair decision ... And I respect it."

Bernier, the leader of the People's Party of Canada, initially was not invited to the debates because he couldn't prove his party could win more than one seat in the Oct. 21 election.

But after providing more information to the commission, led by former governor general David Johnson, Bernier was told he can participate.

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier found out Monday he would be included in the national leadership debates next month after initially not being invited to participate. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

It's a familiar situation for May. The Green Party leader was excluded from the televised leadership debate in the 2008 federal election. She argued the exclusion was undemocratic and was eventually invited to attend.

Commends commission 

May commended the Liberals for creating the Leaders' Debate Commission and rules around who should be included in national debates.

"In establishing the clear criteria and since I've been – I would say – the victim of unclear criteria and backroom collusion in election after election after election, I applaud the fact that we have a system that's got criteria," said May.

Both the NDP and Conservatives have been critical of the Commission's decision to include Bernier in the debates.

During a campaign stop Monday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters "I think it's wrong to give Mr. Bernier the platform to spread his hateful and divisive message."

The press secretary to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer took a jab at the Liberals for creating a commission that allowed Bernier in the debate.

The English and French televised debates will take place on Oct. 7 and Oct. 10.