POLITICS

Elizabeth May Calls TVA Leaders' Debate 'Illegitimate'

10/02/2015 09:51 EDT | Updated 10/02/2015 10:59 EDT

OTTAWA — Green Leader Elizabeth May, excluded from TVA's French-language election debate, accused the network of running an illegitimate event.

Midway through the televised French exchange, May tweeted Thursday from her B.C. riding that the TV network was doing Conservative Leader Stephen Harper a favour.

May took part in the last French-language debate, organized by a consortium of broadcasters, and spent much of it needling Harper.

During this one, her party tweeted a stream of policy points — in French and English — on the economy, Syrian refugees, climate change, clean energy technology and other issues in a bid to elbow its way into the conversation.

May retweeted the messages and added the occasional point of her own in English.

Someone on Twitter wondered why Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, but not May, was at the event with Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

"TVA is running an illegitimate debate," she replied. "Doing Harper a favour."

The wide exposure only televised campaign debates can bring is crucial for the Greens, who lack a large advertising budget to get their message across.

But it appears May won't get another chance to stand alongside the other leaders in a debate, as the consortium of broadcasters says it has no plans to go ahead with an English-language exchange next week.

Since no agreement was reached with the parties, the broadcasters are "currently planning to proceed with regularly scheduled programming," Liliane Le said Thursday in an email.

Harper had indicated long ago he would not take part and Mulcair said his participation was contingent on Harper being there.

The absence of two leaders seems to have scuttled the debate, long a campaign fixture viewed by several million people.

"It is unconscionable that political parties, operating with no rules, would undermine and ultimately derail such an essential democratic event," May said in a statement.

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