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Canada's Green Party given TV debate nod

OTTAWA, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May was invited late Wednesday to participate in televised debates before the federal election, the TV consortium said.

The consortium reversed its Monday decision to bar May from the debates after Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton -- bowing to growing public criticism, even within their own parties -- recanted their opposition to May's involvement, a consortium spokesman said.

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Both leaders had said they would boycott the debates if May showed up.

Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion said he supported May's involvement and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe said he never threatened a boycott.

May cheered the parties' and consortium's reversals and promised to send a representative to negotiate the debate format and questioning with the networks alongside other party representatives, Green spokesman John Bennett told United Press International.

"This just leaped us into the big leagues," he told UPI. "Forty-eight hours ago we were irrelevant, now we're a political force to be reckoned with."

The English and French debates in Ottawa are set for Oct. 1 and 2. The federal election takes place Oct. 14.

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