OTTAWA — The leader of the upstart Quebec-based party Forces et Démocratie says he plans to crash a meeting of television broadcasters next week in order to ensure his spot in the election debates.
Jean-François Fortin, a former leadership contender for the Bloc Québécois and the MP for Haute-Gaspésie–La Mitis–Matane–Matapédia, joined forces last October with Jean-François Larose, an elected NDP MP for Repentigny, to create what they said would be a less power-hungry party that is more focused on serving constituents and the economic health of Quebec’s regions, including its smaller communities.
The party, so far, has only two declared candidates — its co-founders. But Fortin believes that with two MPs in the House of Commons he deserves a presence in the federal election debates. In 2008, Green party Leader Elizabeth May was included in the federal election debates after Independent MP Blair Wilson declared himself a Green. She had obtained 4.5 per cent of votes cast during the 2006 election.
Forces et Démocratie spokesman Benoit Levesque Beaulieu told HuffPost that the party wants a spot in the French debate and that it would be a “bonus” if they were also part of the English debate. Traditionally, a consortium of television broadcasters has organized two debates, one in each official language.
This week, the consortium, which includes CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Shaw Media (Global News) but not Quebec network TVA this year, sent letters to the major parties inviting them to a meeting in Toronto to discuss the rules surrounding the next debates. During the most recent Quebec election, TVA split off from the other broadcasters and held their own provincial leaders’ debates.
Although Fortin did not receive a letter, Levesque Beaulieu said he plans to attend the meeting anyway to defend his party’s right to be in the debate.
Green party spokesman Julian Morelli said he believes the meeting invitation confirms May will be in this year’s debates.
“In the discussion I've had with the consortium, they made it clear that if you're invited to the meeting, you are part of the debate,” he told HuffPost Tuesday.
"It's to initially talk about how we could go about it. Are we looking at different models? What happened at the last debate? How did it work out? Is there a U.S. type model that we could look at? What is the duration of the debate?, is it a wide open forum?”
May was enthusiastic on Twitter:
Bloc Québécois Leader Mario Beaulieu also received a letter inviting him to join the broadcasters’ first meeting, party spokesman Simon Charbonneau confirmed.
Liliane Lê, the spokeswoman for the media consortium would not comment, however, on the guestlist. She said the broadcasters had agreed not to disclose whom they were meeting with for now.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is, so far, the only federal party leader to come out in support of the Green party’s inclusion in the debate, as well as the participantion of the Bloc Québécois and Forces et Démocratie.
The Greens, the Bloc Québécois and Forces et Démocratie each have two MPs in the Commons.
Also on HuffPost