joe clark: "the question is not why the green party should be let in. the question is: why should the greens be kept out?"

Former Prime Minister Joe Clark has waded into the debate and is asking some pretty tough questions about why Green Party leader Elizabeth May is being left out of the televised Leaders’ Debate.

Clark also made a point that I can imagine a lot of Canadians would agree on (this Canadian included):

The tone of federal politics today is the worst I can remember in my 50 years in public life. Of course, there were angry partisan differences before, but they were tumultuous exceptions to a general rule of common public purpose, even civility. By contrast, the standard today has become consistently bitter and negative – personal invective routinely displaces any serious discussion of issues or differences.

This low standard helps corrode respect for the democratic institutions in which this mean drama plays out. It comes at a bad time, because there has been a general decline in the reputation of politicians, parties, legislatures and other institutions. Cynicism grows. Candidates are hard to attract. Citizens turn away from politics – especially young people, who see nothing to attract or inspire them. That constitutes a long-term threat to the authority of the pan-Canadian political institutions that have always been essential for citizens of this diverse democracy to act positively together.

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