May gets first say at English leaders' debate
Elizabeth May first secured the Green party a spot in the leaders' debates. Now she has won the lottery to be the first to speak in the English debate.
The Green leader will be the first to make the opening statement and the first to field a question in the Oct. 2 English-language debate in Ottawa.
Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe scored the opening statement in the Oct. 1 French-language debate, also to be held in Ottawa.
The broadcasting consortium, which organizes the two televised debates, drew names Friday for the order of speakers and other details such as the seating arrangements.
The lottery determined that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will deliver the first answer to the first question of the French debate.
Harper will also lead off closing statements at the French-language debate, though Duceppe gets the final say.
This election marks the first time the Green party has had a spot in the federal leaders' debate.
The consortium of Canada's largest English and French television networks — CBC/Radio-Canada, CTV, Global Television and TVA — decides which party leaders participate in the debates.
In the debates preceding the Jan. 23, 2006 election, then Green Leader Jim Harris was excluded because his party had no seats in the House of Commons.
Shortly before the election was called, Liberal-turned-Independent MP Blair Wilson announced he was joining the Greens, giving the party its first Member of Parliament.
At first, the consortium said May could not participate in the leaders' debates because three of the federal parties were opposed to her inclusion.
Amid public outcry over May's exclusion, Harper and NDP Leader Jack Layton indicated they no longer opposed her participation, leading to a reversal of the consortium's decision.
Steve Paikin, host of the flagship current affairs show The Agenda on Ontario's TVO, will moderate the English debate, which will be held 9 to 11 p.m. ET on Thursday, Oct. 2.
The French language debate will be moderated by journalist and host Stephan Bureau from 8 to 10 p.m. ET on Oct. 1.
With files from the Canadian Press