by Devon Rowcliffe
What possible benefit is there to voters when debate hosts decide to act as gatekeepers and impose arbitrary barriers against candidate participation? Some of the candidates and their ideas may be eccentric, but if they refrain from spreading hatred or making offensive statements, why exclude them?
Are policies such as reducing copyright terms, legalizing marijuana, or raising the personal income tax exemption so egregious that it is worth curtailing our democratic options in order to silence such ideas?
Independent and small-party candidates typically run modest campaigns buoyed only with meagre funding, which prevents them from purchasing advertising. Neighbourhood hustings remain one of the few avenues they have to share their ideas about how our society should be governed. If local debates become increasingly exclusive, prospective candidates outside of the large parties may decide that participating in our democracy just isn't worth the time and effort.