Published Friday September 24th, 2010
By HEATHER MCLAUGHLIN
Was there a deal or wasn't there?
Green party Leader Jack MacDougall said there was an agreement among the five parties fielding candidates in this provincial election that if all five weren't invited to the leaders' debates, none would participate.
"Fundamentally, there was a handshake agreement unanimously supported by the five parties ... so we talked about honesty. My word is good and yet they broke an all-party agreement," MacDougall said.
"We agreed that we wanted all leaders invited and to participate in order for any debate to take place ... We had a meeting specifically to deal with this CTV debate.
"I'm clearly telling you that we had an agreement and the agreement was broke. I think it was a crystallizing moment in this entire debate," MacDougall said. "We did that for all debates ... All three of them compromised their agreement to get on the Steve Murphy show. Their principles stopped at the point of mild inconvenience."
NDP campaign director Dominic Cardy said there was no deal.
"That's not true. In fact, the only time the five parties met together was at a planning meeting at CBC to talk about their debate," he said.
The only agreement was that after the CTV debate, there wouldn't be any further all-party debates.
The NDP did send a letter to CTV requesting that the Green party and the People's Alliance be invited to join the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP in the televised debate.
Liberal Leader Shawn Graham said they made the same suggestion to CTV to include all parties, but it wasn't their call and that the final decision on participants was up to the television network.
The debate's host, Halifax-based anchorman Steve Murphy, said that the criteria for invitations was to invite parties that have had elected members to the legislative assembly in the last or recent past elections. The Green party and newly-formed People's Alliance of New Brunswick were ruled out from the invitation list on that basis, Murphy said.
If they win seats in future, they'll be invited next time, he said.