AMHERST - While one political leader is crying foul at being excluded from the federal leaders' debates, another is questioning why his party is not being given the same consideration.
Jim Hnatiuk, who is running for the Christian Heritage Party in Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, is also the party's national leader and feels he too should be included in a national debate.
"This is an opportunity to present your message before a national audience and I believe I should be there as the party leader and Elizabeth May should be there," Hnatiuk said. "Like the Green Party we're an up and coming party and we have a solid platform that needs to be presented."
The Christian Heritage Party has been in existence since the mid-1980s and has run candidates nationwide since the 1988 federal election. The Green Party of Canada has around since 1983.
If the national TV networks don't want to include the Green Party and the Christian Heritage Party in the same debate with the other parties, Hnatiuk feels they should be presented with an alternative.
"If they're not going to include us in the debate there should be something else saying these are the up and coming parties and here are their platforms," said Hnatiuk, adding he's not sure why parties such as his are being excluded. "Canadians need to see there are alternatives out there that should be considered."
On Wednesday, Canada's broadcast consortium that independently governs debates decided that May would not be invited to participate. May reacted with outrage while the leaders of the Liberal and New Democratic parties both said they wouldn't mind if she participated. The Conservatives have said they would accept the consortium's decision.
May was also excluded in 2008, but was included following a groundswell of support from across the country.
Parliament, he said, has already lifted the drawbridge on smaller parties when it comes to political funding. While he's against parties being funded by the taxpayer, he said there is not a level playing field in that the larger parties get funding and the others don't.
Local Green Party candidate Jason Blanch said he was shocked when he learned May was not included and remains confident that like three years ago she will participate.
"I'm a bit like Elizabeth May, I'm just in shock," said Blanch. "It's the same thing happening again."
Blanch has no idea why May is not being included, adding he made a comment on Twitter that the national media may have a rule against articulate politicians.
On the positive side, the media coverage of her exclusion is giving the Green Party some added exposure.
Liberal candidate Jim Burrows said he has no opinion on the matter.
"I really haven't given it much thought," said Burrows. "I'm working hard to campaign in this riding and look after the issues here."
– AMHERST DAILY NEWS