Tony Seed is a little upset, and under the circumstances, who wouldn't be? After raising the necessary 1000$ deposit, getting an auditor, and an agent, and gathering 100 signatures, the Halifax candidate of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC) is on the federal election ballot, but finds himself on the outside looking in at the Halifax Federal Riding Debate, which takes place on April 14th at 7pm at Scotiabank Theatre, Saint Mary's University.
Seed says that his campaign team has been in contact with the Dalhousie Students' Union, who, along with the Saint Mary's University Students' Association, are organizing the event. Reps from the DSU have given Seed's staff the runaround, claiming first that they could not find an extra podium anywhere on campus for him, next that the stage at Scotiabank Theatre could realistically only accommodate four candidates, and finally that they didn't even know he was running until the debate was already planned out, and that by then it was simply too late. Seed thinks this rationale is “pathetic”, and senses that far from it being a case of simple oversight, his exclusion from the debate is intentional. Says Seed:
“The aim of these debates is essentially something organized by student politicians to perpetuate the unrepresentative parliamentary system, and the cartel of political parties, and their domination of political affairs...and to eliminate the voice of workers, and anybody who provides an independent alternative to the problems that Haligonians and Canadians face.”
With voter turnout having reached an all-time low in 2008, and Canadian youth keeping away from the polls like never before, Seed questions the logic of a “Some-Candidates Debate”, with participants that seem increasingly unrepresentative, especially to younger demographics.
“I would think that the students' council would be concerned about the level of student participation in political affairs,” says Seed, “and would be trying to assist the student youth and faculty to become more active. Instead, they've decided to marginalize the students and the faculty, by saying that they can only vote for Tweedle-Dee or Tweedle-Dum.”
This isn't the first time that Seed and the MLPC have been stonewalled by the Dalhousie Students' Union. According to Seed, the battle just to be heard has been going on for the past 25 years.
“Its almost as if (the DSU) have a secret handbook which they pass down from students' council to students' council: 'How to exclude the Marxist-Leninists, or any independent party, from the All-Candidates debates'.” says Seed.
Seed doesn't just blame the DSU though, and notes that the 'big three cartel' would have had to be in collusion with the Dal student body in shaping the evening's debate protocol.
“For twenty five years this has been going on,” says Seed, “and I raise this question...What are these pretension of fixing Ottawa and alleviating the democratic deficit that the NDP is presenting when they're participating in the restriction of independent political voices at the local level?”
Haligonians will have the chance to meet Tony Seed at an All-Candidates meeting on Thursday, the 21st of April, from 5:30-7:30, at the Maritime Museum of Atlantic Canada – 1675 Lower Water Street.