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Green Party leader Elizabeth May speaks to reporters before a rally in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday April 11, 2011.

DARRYL DYCK/Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Elizabeth May is giving a Green thumbs-down to the English leaders' debate, calling it a tightly scripted affair that should go down in history as a dark day for Canadian democracy.

The leader of the Green Party said Tuesday her rivals could have used her help, considering how they barely touched on issues of importance to Canadian voters.

Ms. May was shut out of the debates by the broadcast consortium that runs them because her party doesn't have a seat in the House of Commons.

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"I was disappointed, and I think democracy lost out when they kept out a party that had one million votes in the last election," Ms. May told a press conference following the debate.

"I knew they were changing the format ... but I thought that was a spectacularly, non-engaging, flat, predictable set of exchanges."

Ms. May followed the debate online from Victoria, offering up written and verbal commentary throughout the evening.

She dismissed the Conservative government's tough-on-crime agenda, which includes plans to expand the prison system, nonsense and a waste of money.

Crime is on the decline in Canada, she said; even police chiefs believe early childhood education should take priority.

She rattled off a list of what she called orphan issues that were not touched on in Tuesday's debate, including homelessness, mental health, prescription drug costs, arts funding, women's equality and the treatment of Canadian military veterans.

Ms. May said the leaders barely mentioned environmental issues and when they did it was more of a "fashion statement."

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"Did they offer anything substantive? No, they didn't, and if I'd been in the room, I wouldn't have let them get away with it."

Ms. May said she would like to see an independent, democracy-oriented body organize and run the debates in the next federal election.

The broadcasters are more interested in setting up the leaders for a TV-friendly fight than fostering a wide-ranging debate on important Canadian issues, she said.

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