July 19, 2024
Bernier hasn't earned his place at the debates
The People’s Party hasn't come close to meeting the criteria to get a place on the stage. Why give Bernier special treatment?
The People’s Party hasn’t come close to meeting the criteria to get a place on the stage. Why give Bernier special treatment?

The more experience we have of former governor-general David Johnston, the more cause we have to admire the man. After a distinguished career educating young people, he served seven years as a highly successful governor general, and has continued to serve the country in a number of capacities, including as the first-ever debates commissioner, tasked with organizing two debates to be held before the upcoming federal election.

As governor general he worked quietly but effectively, putting the onus on getting the job done as opposed to luxuriating in the stature of the position or the goody bag of perks it comes with. In serving the country so capably he demonstrated to prime ministers present and future the advisability of entrusting the position to men and women of quiet competence as opposed to celebrities and showpieces, as has too often become the case. He’s the sort of person most Canadians envision when they think of public service; we could use a lot more like him, it’s a pity they are so hard to find.

As head of the election commission he has once again set out to deliver what was asked, establishing an organization to oversee debates, set some rules for how they are held and who gets to participate, ensure as many Canadians as possible are able to watch the results, and make sure the whole effort adheres to the holy mess of headache-inducing propriety that is Canada’s national obsession with pleasing everyone everywhere while preventing anyone from having anything to complain about, ever.

He seems to have done a pretty good job, as usual. At least we know there will be some debates, and they will be run on a reasonable basis, as opposed to the mish-mash that resulted in 2015 after former prime minister Stephen Harper declined to participate in a series of head-to-heads put together by a consortium of TV networks.