Bill C-3 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.
Jacques Saada Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Message from the Senate
The Royal Assent
May 14th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
May 13, 2004
I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 6:56 p.m.
Secretary to the Governor General
The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act--Chapter No. 18; Bill C-20, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts--Chapter 19; Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act--Chapter 20; Bill C-15, an act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences--Chapter 21; Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004--Chapter 22; and Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa)--Chapter 23.
I also have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
May 13, 2004
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 9:10 p.m.
The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act--Chapter 24.
May 12th, 2004 / 4:50 p.m.
Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Mr. Speaker, I have the distinct pleasure today of sharing a great Canadian success story. It is a story that combines justice, innovation and worldclass technology.
It is a story that highlights unique Canadian know-how and strong Canadian leadership. It is a story that affects all Canadians and reaches well beyond our borders.
This is a story about the administration of justice and the most powerful investigative tool ever discovered. It has solved hundreds of serious crimes in just the last few years and kick-started some of the most difficult criminal cases facing Canadian police. It helps protect Canadians from violent criminals and sex offenders.
This is the story of forensic DNA evidence and the ways in which it has revolutionized criminal investigation and prosecution.
More powerful than fingerprints, DNA serves as a silent but credible witness, convicting the guilty while protecting the innocent. When properly handled and properly profiled, it offers foolproof evidence.
This is a story that illustrates the power of science. It is a story of Canadian innovation that is putting science to its best use through the national DNA data bank.
DNA is the fundamental building block of our entire genetic makeup. With the exception of identical twins, every person's DNA is unique.
Using modern technology, DNA can be extracted from a small biological sample, such as a few drops of blood, the root of one hair or by swabbing the inside of the mouth. The sample is analyzed, creating a DNA profile that can be used to identify a person. That profile, in turn, can be compared to an unknown DNA profile drawn from a different biological sample. If the profiles match, the two samples come from the same person or from identical twins.
At the forefront of forensic DNA science is the nation DNA data bank, formed as a result of legislation passed by the House six years ago. The data bank is recognized worldwide for the quality of its work and the professionalism of the scientists who work there.
Since it opened in June 2000, the data bank has helped solve almost 120 murders and over 300 sexual assault cases in communities from coast to coast to coast. It has played a pivotal role in helping police solve 250 armed robberies and almost 900 break and enters. The national DNA data bank has provided critical evidence leading to convictions in more than 1,700 serious crimes.
The power of DNA evidence is so well entrenched that we now almost take it for granted. It is remarkable to realize it was only 15 years ago that DNA typing methods were introduced into criminal investigations and trials in Canada.
The first conviction directly tied to DNA evidence came in 1989 in the case of a vicious sexual assault. The so-called McNally case transformed the administration of justice in Canada and paved the way for the introduction of the data bank just over a decade later. The evidence developed by the RCMP in a lab in the McNally case, was so compelling that it convinced the accused to change his plea to guilty.
Although the RCMP started using DNA analysis successfully in 1989, there was no coordination at the national level to help police take full advantage of steady advances in the technology.
In 1996, the Department of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice embarked on nationwide consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including the provinces and territories, police associations, privacy advocates, legal experts and victims groups.
Confirming the Government of Canada's commitment to combat crime, and particularly violent crime, Bill C-3, the DNA Identification Act, received royal assent in December 1998, and was proclaimed in June 2000. With royal assent, the RCMP committed to build a national DNA data bank and to make it operational within 18 months. The project was completed on time and under budget.
The nationwide consultations that contributed to the creation of the data bank also stressed the need to balance a suspect's right to privacy with the need for police officers to collect evidence.
The legislation imposes strict procedures to govern the handling of DNA profiles and biological samples to ensure the privacy interests are protected. Information collected by the national DNA data bank is used for law enforcement purposes only. The bill continues all of those protections.
Some members of the House will also know that the national DNA data bank advisory committee oversees the operation and offers advice to the commissioner of the RCMP.
The data bank is one component of the national police services administered by the RCMP for the benefit of the entire Canadian law enforcement community. The data bank currently employs 26 people and operates with an annual budget of $3.1 million.
The value of DNA to police investigations is remarkable. Biological samples collected from a crime scene can link a suspect to that scene or rule out the suspect entirely. Evidence from different crime scenes can be compared to link the same perpetrator to multiple offences, whether the crimes took place locally, across the country or halfway around the world.
Canada's national DNA data bank has been recognized as one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world. The national DNA data bank relies heavily on robotic technology. Combined with a worldclass inventory and sample tracking system, personnel can process more samples in less time and at a significantly lower cost than other similar operations.
Moreover, the facilities in other countries require enormous cold storage containers to maintain the quality of DNA samples awaiting processing. The Canadian system uses specialized blotting paper that stabilizes the DNA and allows it to be stored at room temperature in secure cabinets.
Although there are fewer numbers of samples in the Canadian national DNA data bank compared to its counterparts internationally, our data bank has realized success much earlier than many. Compared to DNA banks, such as the Florida state wide data bank, the Canadian bank has seen more matches per sample.
The national DNA data bank consists of two primary databases. The first is a convicted offender index and includes profiles from individuals convicted of certain serious Criminal Code offences. The second is the crime scene index which houses DNA profiles generated from crime scenes.
There are currently more than 57,000 profiles entered onto the convicted offender index and more than 14,000 on the crime scene index.
An offender “hit” occurs when a biological sample from a crime scene is sent to the data bank and the resulting DNA profile matches one in the convicted offender index.
A forensic “hit” occurs when a crime scene DNA profile is sent to the crime scene index and matches a profile from at least one other crime scene.
The data bank's success is based on a simple formula. The more profiles entered into the two indices, the more hits generated to help police investigators solve serious crimes.
One such “hit” solved the vicious 1992 murder of a convenience store attendant in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
I would like to conclude my remarks by reminding the hon. members across the way, who are so enthusiastic about the bill, that the national DNA data bank serves as one of the most powerful law enforcement tools available to Canadian police and courts.
Members will recall that more than 1,700 serious crimes have been solved over the last four years as a direct result of evidence generated by data bank scientists.
Even more encouraging is the fact that, as the national DNA data bank approaches full capacity, its impact will increase even further as greater numbers of samples are processed.
Enhanced automation and robotics will help scientists process even more DNA samples in a shorter period of time. New technology will help position the data bank to better respond to various types of forensic investigation, including mass disasters.
Canada Elections Act
March 31st, 2004 / 5:20 p.m.
The Deputy Speaker
It being 5:30 p.m., pursuant to order made Tuesday, March 30, 2004, the question on the motion for the third reading stage of Bill C-3 is deemed put and carried on division.
(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)
Canada Elections Act
March 31st, 2004 / 5:15 p.m.
Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak this one last time in the House of Commons. This will probably be my last attempt at effecting change from the government.
It is appropriate that the bill that I should be speaking to is one of democratic principles. I ran in 1988 based on the need to bring democratic principles back to the Canadian electoral system. This bill is a result of the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledging that the legislation that the government had put into place was not democratic.
This bill is addressing the decision of the Supreme Court that it was undemocratic to require a party to run 50 candidates in an election. If two people wanted to represent a party to represent a cause, an idea or an issue, that should be allowed as long as there were some other things they managed to do, and that is to show that they had some following and some people agreed with their position.
The bill that has been introduced to address the Supreme Court's decision allows one individual, if that is what it is, with 250 signatures in support and with at least 4 officers representing that party, to run in an election in order to raise the issues.
This is important because in 1987 the Reform Party talked about the need to form a party in order to raise some of the issues on democratic reform, electoral reform, economic reform and judicial reform, and to be held to a certain standard. Putting those ideas out to the population would have been very restrictive. Under the new legislative guidelines that the Liberal government tried to bring in, it is questionable whether the Reform Party of Canada would ever have gotten off the ground.
As I have said, it is very apropos that in my last speech in the House of Commons I should be defending the principles of democratic reform, in that any Canadian who seeks to put ideas before the electorate of change and moving our country forward should not be stopped by legislation in the House.
If anything, we should be opening up the process and that is what Bill C-3 does. It opens up the process so that Canadians have the freedom to express their concerns through the electoral system.
I would like to take this opportunity, as it is my last time in the House, to thank the constituents of South Surrey—White Rock—Langley for their support over the last 10 and a half years. I have been honoured to represent them. I feel I have done a good job on their behalf in the House and on behalf of the Conservative Party, the Canadian Alliance, and the Reform Party before that, in moving forward legislative changes that would give Canadians a greater voice and that would give my constituents a better life in this country.
I want to take the opportunity to thank them and to acknowledge that I could not have done it without their support. I look forward to the days ahead of me where I will continue to live and work in the community.
Perhaps I will be on the other side of the fence putting pressure on the new representative to ensure that change moves forward and that we always strive for what is best for all Canadians and for our country. We should have the courage to look ahead and take the bold steps that are required if we are ever going to deal with some of the most serious problems we have in our country, whether it is on the security issues that we spoke of earlier today or on health care.
I, and a lot of Canadians, have a great fear that 20 years from now we will not have any health care system to speak of. It is essential for the people who sit in the House to have the courage to look at how we can do things differently and in a way that will secure our health care for future generations.
We must also ensure that our country is competitive and that we raise our stature in the international community. We must think big and we must be bold in the steps that we take.
I only hope and wish that the people who replace me here and who move on in the years to come have the courage to do the right thing for all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to thank my constituents and to speak to this bill. I believe it is a good move by the government to recognize the democratic principles that are so important to having a free and democratic country.
Business of the House
Private Members' Business
March 30th, 2004 / 5:35 p.m.
Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC
Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties and I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of this House, that no later than 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31, 2004, the motion for third reading of Bill C-3 be deemed put and adopted on division.
Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business
March 30th, 2004 / 5:35 p.m.
Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business
March 30th, 2004 / 5:30 p.m.
Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties and I believe that you would find consent for the following order: That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of this House, that no later than 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31, 2004, the motion for third reading of Bill C-3 be deemed put and adopted on division.
Canada Elections Act
March 26th, 2004 / 1:15 p.m.
Ken Epp Elk Island, AB
That is not only a shame, as my colleague says, it is a serious and, I would venture to say, a fatal flaw in our democratic system. If we do not fix that I am afraid our democratic system here will increasingly become eroded and members of the public will have an increasing disillusionment with the need to support, with their tax dollars and with their votes, the democratic process.
I therefore chastise the government for imposing that on its members in committee. If members had been able to debate openly and freely and to vote openly and freely, we would have had amendments that would have prevented the serious consequences that will come about as a result of the passage of Bill C-3.
I would venture to say that there must be some Liberals over there as well who must feel badly about their participation in this, as they have gone along with it. As well, now we have a so-called new Prime Minister. During his leadership campaign, the new Prime Minister often used the phrase “democratic deficit”. I do not know where he got that idea from, because all the time the party over there of which he was a part and a member of the cabinet did not really practice democracy. I suppose he detected it. He heard it from us, from this side. He probably got it from some of his own members over there. He knew that it was a hot button--it certainly is for Canadians--and he campaigned on it.
What do we see now when Bill C-3 is introduced in this Parliament? Do we see the removal of the democratic fetters that were shackled around the ankles of all the Liberals and around their hands so that they could not raise their hands to vote at a certain time but had to at a different time?
I seriously chastise this Prime Minister and the government for shutting this down.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, from time to time I have mentioned that I am an amateur mathematician. I took training at university in mathematics and physics and taught math and computing for some 31 years, so I have a bit of a mathematical thing going on here as well.
The committee has eight members from the Liberal Party. It has seven from the opposition. I am not prepared to concede that only the Liberals have a positive IQ and the rest of us have a negative one. I am not prepared to concede that only the Liberals are capable of clear thinking and the rest of us only of muddy thinking. I believe it has to be, statistically speaking, about eight to seven.
I do not know what those fractions are exactly. I could have figured it out, but in eight to seven out of fifteen times, seven times the opposition would have an idea that would be superior to the eight on the other side. We just have to wonder about it when time after time all the opposition ideas, amendments and motions are put and defeated simply because they come from this side. That is a serious flaw.
I happen also in my lifetime to have been, I like to think, a serious student of the scriptures. There is a proverb which states that in the presence of many counsellors is great wisdom. The Liberals make an error when they say, “There are all these people on the opposition side and we will not listen to them at all”. They make an error because we are part of the team that wants to build good laws for this country. They should from time to time--I would say seven out of fifteen times on average--listen to us and they should adopt those ideas.
Enough of that, because next I want to talk about one of the very serious flaws of the bill.
Perhaps before I do that, because I am a guy who likes always to accentuate the positive and diminish the negative, let me say that there is one positive thing in this bill and I sure do support it. In order not to be guilty of the same thing I am accusing the Liberals of, let me say that I wholeheartedly support the removal in this bill of the requirement in the past that if a party went down to fewer than 50 candidates in an election it was required to turn in all its assets.
Let us say that there is a new party that works hard to try to get established with some ideas that a significant number of citizens believe in. It falls short of the 50 mark. What does the government do, this high-handed government? It says that the party started out in the race with the rest of us but did not reach the first quarter mile so it will make that party go back to the start line. That is what it does.
I would like to applaud the government for having removed that. It is totally wrong for a party that has 40 candidates in an election, let us say, to have to give up all its assets. I wish to say thanks to those Liberals over there for removing that very offensive clause from the present Elections Act and for at least providing a way out of it so that this party can re-register and not have to give up everything it has worked for.
In the little time remaining, I want to point out what to me is probably the most serious flaw in this legislation. As my colleague from North Vancouver so ably pointed out earlier today, it is the flaw of having some bureaucrat or politician determine whether or not another member can enter into the race as a political party.
I am not going to repeat all of the stuff that has been said here already about how this problem could have been avoided. Certainly it could have been avoided if the members opposite had not been so bullheaded in their ideas and had listened to some rational counter arguments.
The flaw is that if we do not pass this bill, the Canada Elections Act will fall apart at the next election, whenever that will be. I sincerely hope that it will be in the fall because this needs to be fixed before we go to the next election. To fix it the way the Liberals are proposing is no fix at all. All it will do is put into cement a problem which will perpetually dog us.
The idea that one person constitutes a party is offensive, indeed. That one person could run as an independent in any riding of the country. There is no residential requirement in the Canada Elections Act. He or she could choose to run in any riding in the country and put forward ideas as an independent. There is no discrimination against a person because that individual is not permitted to run as a party. That person could still run. Having only one person opens up a very serious problem in the next election. I can see it happening in many constituencies, having one member in a party.
For example, I know of a lady who is an avid pro animal protectionist. If she catches a mouse, it has to be caught live and released even though it may find its way back to the building before she gets back. She is going to start a party called the PM party. It does not stand for prime minister or member of parliament; it stands for protection of mice. She is going to start that party and she is legally entitled to do so. There are a lot of people who will support her. She will easily get 250 members.
We are going to have in our all candidate debates every one of the individual one issue candidates, maybe 18 or 20 of them. All of them will be entitled to the benefits of the legislation under Bill C-24.
Mr. Speaker is giving me a signal and I acknowledge that it is 1:30 on Friday afternoon. I would ask that I be granted the rest of my time when this issue is debated again.
Canada Elections Act
March 26th, 2004 / 1:15 p.m.
Ken Epp Elk Island, AB
Mr. Speaker, I hope you enjoy saying Elk Island because after the next election that riding is gone. I hope not to be because I am running in the new riding of Edmonton--Sherwood Park and hope to win the election there.
I have the difficult chore today of trying to persuade the members opposite, that huge crowd of Liberals sitting in their seats and listening to my every word and argument, to change their minds. However it appears to me that the best I can say is that they are dozing in their seats.
Let us look at the different aspects of the bill, the first being the process. The bill was to go to committee before second reading. The theory behind that was that the members of the committee could have some real input into the shaping of the bill.
I would venture to say that of all of the members in the House, including the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, I would place the member for North Vancouver even above him in terms of knowledge of electoral processes, general principles of democracy and how they can best be worked out.
It is incredible to me that when the committee came together, only ideas that came from the Liberal side were considered worthy of support and every idea that came from the opposition side was considered worthy of defeat.
We recognize that in a democracy the majority rules, and right now the Liberals have a majority in the House, that is at least on the roster if not presently in the House, but they do have the majority, which means that if a vote is held the majority carries the day. What I object to, though, strenuously, is the fact that in committee there is such an imposition of party discipline.
I have been here now for over 10 years. I was told by my predecessor, Mr. Brian O'Kurley, that the best work I would do would be in committee. When I was appointed to my first committee I looked forward to it. I felt that it was good because it was the place where we could have a democratic process. We could all give our points of view and try to persuade the people on the other side. I felt that being rationale people they would listen to my arguments and if my arguments were sufficiently persuasive that they would surely vote in favour of whatever I proposed.
In many committees over the last 10 years I have had to hang my head in democratic shame over what happens in this place because of the fact that the people with whom we are debating are not permitted to vote according to the persuasion of their mind or their conscience.
Canada Elections Act
March 26th, 2004 / 12:50 p.m.
Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and speak to Bill C-3 for the second time. I would like at this time to acknowledge my colleague, the member for North Vancouver, who has put a tremendous amount of effort and time into this complicated bill and has been one of those big sources of information to us in the caucus as well as being here in the House debating and laying out what exactly is wrong with the bill and how it should be addressed.
This morning when he spoke again on the bill, he again outlined our party's position. We are supporting the bill, but we know there are flaws in the bill and we are trying to highlight those flaws to make sure the message goes out about those flaws. However, because of the urgency of time, the election coming up, and the Supreme Court of Canada's decision hanging over our heads, we need to have this legislation go through.
We are supporting the bill, but as he pointed out, supporting it despite the fact that work done by him and through the committee was ignored, as was that of the other parties, which all agreed to the initial proposal of a 12 man rule. As was pointed out, the former minister who was looking after this bill was absolutely adamant about any changes to his bill. He stuck to his guns despite the fact that all information indicated that the Supreme Court of Canada would throw out this bill and ask Parliament to fix it. The minister refused all kinds of compromises on anything. As the member for North Vancouver pointed out, it was a total waste of money. The bill went to the Supreme Court and we are now back here debating the bill, with the one man rule as well as what a party should consist of.
Last time the government House leader spoke to the bill, he talked about the points. He said it strengthened democracy but he wanted to make sure there were more views and henceforth they brought in several administrative issues. But the essence of the bill still remains that it is to register political parties.
Registering political parties is a very important aspect. In a democracy, people express their points of view through a party system. That is the way they do it. Where there is no party system, then it is a different system, but nevertheless, parties are essential to democracy. Therefore, it is very important that we recognize how parties are registered and how they play an important part in one of the pillars of democracy, which is direct elections.
I agree that we do not want abuse of the political system. Otherwise we will lose the trust of Canadians. They will become detached. As it is, with the current state and the way things are going, Canadians are becoming pretty cynical about politicians anyway. I hear this all the time. People write to us and talk to us and tell us that politicians are not held in that high a degree of respect, not as they should be.
How did we politicians come to lose that high degree of respect we had in the 1950s compared to the level now in the 21st century, where we have lost so much common ground? It is because of facts like these: there are a lot of flaws in democracy, many politicians have not handled themselves well, promises were made but not kept, all these things. There is a democratic deficit, as the Prime Minister likes to say.
Over a period of time the PMO became the driving force in the Parliament of Canada. It was making the decisions and the decisions started away from the other parties in the House of Commons.
Two things have happened in our democracy for the erosion of confidence with the public. One was the prime minister getting the power and then making his members of Parliament irrelevant by asking them to vote based on party lines. We saw the last prime minister many times declare votes of confidence for the government when really they were not. It was his own political agenda that he wanted to push through, bypassing his own backbenchers who were elected by the people. His members did not want this, but they could not vote their conscience for the simple reason that the prime minister determined votes of confidence in the government.
These kinds of things have a tendency of eroding confidence and that erosion carries on. When I am campaigning in my riding, people ask questions about what I can say or do. They put high hopes in their elected officials, that we can stand in the Parliament of Canada and speak what they feel is important because they elected us.
Is that really what has happened? No. The current Prime Minister talks about the democratic deficit and how he will improve upon it. We will wait and see. Honestly, he is not connecting well with Canadians on democratic deficit. We know that. The government and the Prime Minister have miserably failed to send out the message to the people in my riding that they are dealing with the many issues of which they talk, such as the democratic deficit, bringing confidence to the government and transparency.
My other point is the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy has become so bad that there is a real erosion of power of elected members. As a matter of fact I have noticed that, based on the government's track record and the prime minister's track record. They tell their deputy ministers not to listen to members of Parliament or not to listen to the members of the opposition.
I have met so many bureaucrats from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, the Department of Foreign Affairs, most important from Revenue Canada and others. Their senior bureaucrats have the least amount of respect for members of Parliament, forgetting the fact that in a democracy it is the members of Parliament who are the ones who represent the people. The bureaucrat's job is to listen and implement policies that the members of Parliament make.
What do we get? I have numerous examples of bureaucracy such as Revenue Canada in Calgary. I have not had good experiences with the bureaucrats there. The immigration office in Calgary does not talk to us. When we talk to the bureaucrats there, they have a habit of saying that they will not answer our questions.
I wrote a letter to the immigration officers in Damascus. They have not bothered replying, yet their office said that they should reply to members of Parliament so members could represent their constituents. The constituents depend on us. They want answers and they look to us for answers on issues. Sure, there are laws. We are intelligent enough to figure out that the laws are there. If the laws are not complied with, we are here to change them.
What happens to members with the bureaucracy is a simple fact. I have had people walk into my offices and say that bureaucrats have told them to go talk to their member of Parliament on small issues, not them. After seven years of this experience, I am have become exceedingly sure that another problem that needs to be addressed is the huge bureaucracy and the way it ignores the wishes of the people.
If government ministers tell their deputy ministers to listen to them only, then that message goes to the other bureaucrats, and they in turn think of a local member of Parliament as a nobody. The bureaucrats we have receive instructions from ministers.
Lo and behold there has been a change of prime minister and many ex-ministers now find themselves on backbenches. They now will get the chance to experience what they have instituted.
In order for democracy to work well, a balance needs to be met. I am not saying there are no good bureaucrats. There are excellent bureaucrats as well. However, like anyone else in any profession there are bad apples who give them a bad name. We need to find a balance among Parliament which makes the laws, the judiciary and the bureaucracy to have an effective way of governing.
Let me get back to the point of political parties.
I am the senior critic for international cooperation. CIDA gives a lot of money to promote democracies around the world. On many occasions I have had the opportunity to go to these countries. I even had the opportunity to be an election observer in Chiapas. However, that was before a former minister for international cooperation sent her own buddies to be election observers, what is called blatant patronage.
Canada has tremendous experience in elections. Elections Canada is a highly respected institution which has helped upcoming democracies. Elections Canada helped in the elections in South Africa. It has a high degree of respect in that country. Other countries ask us how democracies should work and how political parties should work. We need to set examples.
It is important that we highlight the fact that in our own Parliament we can debate issues with each other. However, it is also important to admit the fact that there are flaws in our own Parliament. The House of Commons is the institution of democracy.
It is a privilege for me to stand here today, having come from Africa 25 years ago and having adopted Canada as my country. I am very proud of that fact. I am thankful to the people of Calgary East for giving me the opportunity to represent them in this great institution, the Parliament of Canada. When I go back to my constituency, people tell me they have confidence in me, and they want me to talk about issues that are of importance to them. That comes out of the great institution of democracy.
Canada has had over 100 years of democratic experience. We can go around the world and be proud of our democracy. However, we should always strive to improve our democracy. We need to improve. We do not need to erode the freedom of speech and the freedom we have in democracy. We must be absolutely vigilant to ensure that we never lose that.
The government wanted to include the 50 member rule in the legislation. It puzzles me why we would want to restrict that. I do not know why we would want to restrict freedom of speech by having the 50 member rule. Thank God for the Supreme Court's decision that numbers are not acceptable.
My party proposed the 12 member rule, and other parties agreed with that. It would have fulfilled many of the objectives in the bill. The bill indicates that there now has to be 250 members and three people sitting in office. These are administrative issues. The 12 member rule would have met all kinds of issues.
It is with great pride that I stand in the House of Commons and debate the issue of political parties, which are in essence one of the vehicles by which to express in the House the views of the people.
In conclusion, as members know, my party has just merged, and we had a great convention. There is a new party called the Conservative Party of Canada, to which people now can express their views in the forthcoming election. I agree with the Prime Minister when he said in Alberta that there were clear views and Canadians had a clear choice. Canadians will make the choice in the next general election as to who will lead because now they have a clear choice, and I am a very proud member of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Once more, I want to just mention the great job my colleague from North Vancouver has done on this bill.