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Green Leader May to provide commentary via Twitter during Globe leaders' debate

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, flanked by local candidates while speaking during a campaign event in Vancouver on Sept. 9, 2015, will tweet her responses to her opponents’ debate comments Thursday, Sept. 17.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Globe and Mail is hosting a debate on the economy among the leaders of the three main political parties on Thursday at 8 pm (ET). Click here for more details.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May plans to use smartphone technology and a high-speed Internet connection to gain a virtual foothold in The Globe and Mail's election debate Thursday night.

And she expects many Canadians will be tuning in as she broadcasts live video from a church in Victoria, using an iPhone 6 and a Twitter feed, in a groundbreaking effort to insert herself into an event taking place in Calgary.

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Ms. May is being excluded from the debate, which is being produced by The Globe in partnership with Google Canada, because organizers wanted to keep a tight focus on the positions of the three major party leaders.

Read: Why isn't Elizabeth May included in The Globe's federal election debate?

Syvlia Stead, Public Editor for The Globe and Mail, said she has been reminding readers who complain about the decision that there are three parties that have two seats in the House: The Greens, the Bloc Québécois and Forces et Démocratie.

She also refers readers to an article posted on The Globe's Canada Q&A page, in which David Walmsley, the editor-in-chief, explains why Ms. May wasn't included.

"We've set up the debate this way because we believe that by limiting the format to Canada's three main party leaders, we will create a truly focused, successful discussion about the state of the Canadian economy," Mr. Walmsley states.

Steve Ladurantaye, head of Canadian news and government partnerships for Twitter Inc., said the Twitter feed from the First Metropolitan United Church will allow Ms. May to appear live on smartphones and tablets, offering rebuttals to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau debate face to face. While the three party leaders will be streamed live on The Globe's website and distributed on YouTube, Ms. May will be on the Twitter feed. With multiple screens, a viewer can mesh the two events.

"You wouldn't know she's not there in a lot of ways. She's inserting herself into the conversation regardless of location and geography, which is cool," he said. "We've never seen anything like this in Canada, or anywhere really."

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Ms. May, reached on the campaign trail in Guelph, Ont., said she was shocked when she learned she wasn't going to be included in the debate.

And she praised Twitter Canada for giving her a chance to engage with voters through social media.

Ms. May said she's hopeful the Twitter feed will be watched widely and that, despite her physical absence, she will win support in a key debate.

"If that's true, I'd be gratified," she said.

Julian Morelli, director of communications for the Green Party of Canada, said talks with Twitter Canada began months ago.

"We've been working with them closely on this for three months but keeping it quiet," he said. "What we didn't want was it to look like a gimmick. It was to be substantive."

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

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