Leaders' debates: Confused?
A lot of noise yesterday about the leaders' debates -- so much, that you may be totally confused about what we're going to see during Campaign 2011. The problem is that we have three different debates about debates. Here, a handy guide to to the story so far:
1. The traditional leaders' debates will take place on April 12 (English) and April 14 (French). These are the ones organized by a consortium of TV broadcasters -- CTV, CBC, Radio-Canada, TVA and Global are at that table. As far as I can tell, these talks nearly went off the rails over two disputes yesterday, which have now spun off into what well may be other debates in this campaign.
2. A one-on-one between Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff. Both leaders seem to want a chance to face off, without the other leaders present. This of course enraged Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May (see below). Listening to Harper and Ignatieff yesterday, I was under the assumption that they were organizing this encounter in addition to the traditional leaders' debate.
But a Tweet from Harper muddied the waters -- making it seem that the Conservatives wanted this proposal instead of the usual leaders' debates. Will the Conservatives still want an Ignatieff-Harper matchup on top of the April 12 and 14 events? We'll see. Macleans' Paul Wells reported on Twitter yesterday that U of T and Rogers' cable network may try to make this debate happen.
3. Elizabeth May seems to have been left out of the April 12 and 14 debates. Neither she nor her supporters are going to leave it there. If the TV networks and other parties stand firm, however, the other option may be to have yet another debate, which does include the Green Party leader. CHCH TV has made a formal offer to host that debate. We'll see where that goes.
There. Hope that clears things up, a bit. All you need to know is that we haven't settled the question yet. Stay tuned.