Back in 2008, I made the case for Elizabeth May to be included in the debate. This election, I hold a different view.
In 2008, the Greens had a good case to make. They were the modern day answer to Reform and the Bloc in 1993; parties that had not won seats in a general election but polled far ahead of other "fringe" parties and had a good chance of winning seats. They were included in the debates and went on to both win more than 50 seats. How much the debates influenced their electoral showing is, well, a matter for debate, but it is obvious that it helped these parties (particularly Reform) get on to more voters' radars.
In 2011, the Greens no longer can make that case. While neither of the scenarios I envisioned for the Greens after being in the debates in 2008 came to pass, the fact is that their thesis was disproven. The whole argument for the Greens to be in the debates was that they were building up impressive amounts of support with little money and public exposure. The debates would undo the bottleneck they faced allowing them to raise funds and earn votes.
It didn't happen. Their vote increased incrementally as it had for the past several elections. They had no electoral breakthrough, and really didn't do any better than they likely would have without the debate.
The more leaders you have in the leaders' debate, the less of a debate it becomes and what you get is a shouting match. I'm all for including up-and-comers to give them the chance to breakthrough. But when they get that chance and fail, let's not crowd the stage with also rans.