Bill C-19 (Historical)
Political Loans Accountability Act
An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to political loans)
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
Steven Fletcher Conservative
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
Political Loans Accountability Act
September 28th, 2012 / 12:15 p.m.
Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-21, which would amend the provisions of the Canada Elections Act that affects loans and guarantees to political entities, whether registered parties, registered associations, candidates, leadership contestants or nomination contestants.
I am splitting my time with the member for Québec.
It is an important bill and, as I said earlier, it is a complex issue. We should recognize that when people run for leadership for a political party, it is a huge undertaking financially and in terms of a political commitment to their family, community, party and the country. It is easy to focus on some of the problems that occur, and there are problems, and that is why the bill has come forward. We should also remember the enormous sacrifice that people make, no matter what party, when they decide to run for the leadership.
The NDP just went through a leadership race. It was an incredible democratic process. We had hundreds of thousands of Canadians engaged in that process, culminating in the election of our new leader from Outremont.
When we went to the candidate meetings or had interaction with the candidates, our party could see how incredibly hard-working they were and the time and energy everybody put into their campaign teams.
We need to recognize that because politics gets such a bad name. People feel cynical and it is partly because of financial issues. Bills like this one tend to reinforce the negative side. Therefore, let us also be positive and celebrate the fact that individuals make this commitment to give that kind of public service. I wanted to begin my remarks with that because it needs to be said.
We support the bill at second reading. There will be a general rule that loans and guarantees to political entities are prohibited. There are exceptions to that. Financial institutions can give loans to political entities at a market interest rate and in writing, so that is a very clear, transparent thing. Individuals can as well, as long as they respect the limit under the act, which, as of January, was I believe $1,200, and as long as the loans are repaid, a very key point, within the calendar year or guarantees for which an individual is no longer liable in the calendar year will not be taken into consideration for an individual's contribution, loan and guarantee limit.
Finally, one of the three exceptions is that political parties or associations can make loans or stand surety for loans to a candidate or an association as long as it is in writing. There are some very clear rules.
Just by way of background, I was in Parliament in 2003 when the original bill, and I do not remember the name of it but it was under the Jean Chrétien government, came forward and reformed political financing. It sought to limit the donations to political entities from private individuals and legal persons, but at that time it did not limit political loans.
That was very important legislation and it did create a benchmark to ensure that Canadian political process and running in an election and so on was fair. It was a very historic.
I would compare us with the United States where there is virtually no rules. An individual has to raise millions and millions of dollars. Most of us could never run in the U.S. We simply would be unable to raise the kind of money as progressive people taking strong stands. We would never get all the lobbyists and so on. I always think about the situation in the U.S. where it is so much controlled by big lobbyists and big financial contributions. Therefore, the bill introduced in 2003 was very important.
In 2006 the Federal Accountability Act was the first legislation introduced by the Conservative government, and the NDP was very instrumental. I remember the member for Winnipeg Centre worked very hard with the minister at the time. That also was an important act, which lowered the maximum annual limit from $5,000 to $1,000, but it did not address the issue of political loans.
It is curious that in both 2003 and 2006, neither of those pieces of legislation from two different governments and two different political parties dealt with the question of political loans. I would like to put on the record that the NDP has always been in favour of limiting what we would characterize as the influence of third parties, both on political parties and during leadership contests.
It seems to me that the principle here is to ensure that there is transparency, that there are clear rules, that there are not ways to get around the rules and make oneself a loan or have someone make a loan that we know would never be repayable. Our party has always had an understanding, support, and advocacy for this kind of principle in favour of limiting the influence of third parties. This is why we are supporting the bill.
I would go further and say that Ed Broadbent, the former member for Ottawa Centre, former leader of the NDP, and a very well-known member of Parliament, made an enormous contribution in his time serving the House. He put forward a platform that called for transparency, clear rules, cleaning up politics for stronger accountability, and financing rules for leadership contests. That is what we are also talking about today. Sometimes we forget these things, so it is good to put on the record the work of a former colleague who really did make a difference and who espoused these principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability. I want to give kudos to Mr. Ed Broadbent for doing that.
When we debated the accountability act in 2006, we were very clear that it should have included provisions on political loans. We deplored the fact that it was silent on this matter. Again, the member for Winnipeg Centre did an enormous amount of work. We ended up agreeing as far as the bill went that we would support it, but we always believed that it should go further.
Here we are today in 2012. The bill before us has had quite a history and has already been hanging around for almost a year. It was previously Bill C-19 and C-29. It has had various versions, and here it is being debated today. I think it was the government House leader who said earlier that the government would push and convince all the opposition parties to deal with the bill. Quite clearly, for us in the NDP, we have always supported these kinds of measures and we will support the bill in principle.
I want to end on this note. This is a very complex issue. One has to really go through this stuff with a fine-tooth comb and see whether or not there are loopholes. I hope that when it gets to the committee, its members will almost look at it from a negative point of view, from the point of view of how someone can get around it. We need to ask ourselves that question to ensure that the bill is sufficient and adequate and covers the principles that it espouses. I am glad that we are supporting the bill and look forward to it being at committee.
Business of the House
Business of the House
December 9th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I will start with the hon. member's last question first.
The member is right, that was an extremely long question. I pointed out to this place that the Liberals were making it a common practice of writing questions that should be divided into several questions rather than just one. The question that I read into the record of this House took over 15 minutes to read. It is an attempt by the Liberal Party, continuous attempts by the Liberals, to obfuscate, to delay the proceedings of this House and to, quite frankly, impede the ability of government departments to get on with important government legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I hope that you, in your wisdom, will rule on that very important point of order as quickly as possible.
With respect to the business today, we will continue with the Liberal opposition motion and business of supply. Tomorrow we will hopefully complete the final stage of C-30, Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Shoker Act. Following Bill C-30, we will call, at report stage, Bill S-6, Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act.
On Monday, we will continue with any business not concluded this week, with the addition of Bill C-43, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Modernization Act, and Bill C-12, Democratic Representation Act.
On Tuesday, we would like to complete the third reading stage of Bill C-21, Standing up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act.
Next week, we will also give consideration to any bills that are reported back from committee. Further, if time permits, we would also debate next week Bill C-38, Ensuring the Effective Review of RCMP Civilian Complaints Act; Bill C-50; Bill C-51, Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act; Bill C-53, Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act; and Bill C-19, Political Loans Accountability Act.
Finally, on Tuesday evening, we will have a take-note debate on the trade agreement with the European Union, and on that subject, I would ask my colleague, the chief government whip, to move the appropriate motion.
Business of the House
November 18th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment
Mr. Speaker, let me make an undertaking to my colleague, the House leader of the official opposition, to make enquiries into that and respond to him in short order.
The House will continue today with the opposition motion.
Tomorrow we will continue debate, and I know the NDP will be excited about this, on Bill C-10, Senate term limits; Bill C-19, regarding political loans; followed by Bill S-3, tax conventions implementation.
On Monday and Tuesday of next week, we will call Bill S-3, tax conventions implementation; Bill C-3, gender equity in Indian registration; Bill C-28, fighting Internet and wireless spam; Bill C-22, protecting children; Bill C-29, safeguarding personal information; and Bill C-30, response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Shoker.
Thursday will be an allotted day. I believe this allotted day will go to the Bloc Québécois.
With respect to a take note debate, there have been discussions amongst the parties. There have not been a lot of take note debates. Two weeks ago we had one on veterans issues. I believe next week we will be having one on the issue of pensions, which I know is a concern for all of us, but particularly this was brought forward by the House leader for the official opposition. I believe we are looking at Tuesday night for that.
I appreciate the co-operation we have had from all parties. This gives members an opportunity to bring issues relevant to their constituents forward in the House.
Competition Act (Inquiry into Industry Sector)
Private Members' Business
May 12th, 2010 / 6:10 p.m.
Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today on Bill C-452. I want to congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Shefford, for having introduced this bill to strengthen the Competition Bureau’s ability to make inquiries. We also hope that some parts of this legislation will find their way into government bill C-14 on electricity and gas inspection and on the Weights and Measures Act.
I had an opportunity earlier this week to speak on Bill C-14, and it is good that we are now going to discuss Bill C-452, which is still necessary in our view. We need to continue our efforts to deal effectively with the problem posed by the Competition Act, which still does not allow the Competition Bureau to conduct inquiries on its own initiative. It is still necessary, unfortunately, to wait for a complaint from some individual before an inquiry can be initiated.
Even though the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-14 in principle, it is not an end in itself. With the introduction of Bill C-452, the Bloc Québécois reiterates its intention of freeing Quebec from its dependence on oil through a bold program focused on green energy and the electric car.
To do this, Bill C-452 expands on the measures the government is introducing in Bill C-14 by proposing further steps that could be taken to protect consumers.
Our bill would give the Competition Bureau the power to conduct on its own initiative real inquiries into an industry if there are reasonable grounds for doing so. At present, this is not permitted. The Bureau has to wait for complaints or for instructions from the minister before it can act.
Even though the government says it took action to correct the situation in the Budget Implementation Act of January 2009, there are no provisions in this act allowing the Competition Bureau to make inquiries on its own initiative. A complaint is still needed before an inquiry can be launched.
It is obvious that a bill like this would leave the Competition Bureau much better equipped to fight companies that want to take advantage of their dominant position in the market to fleece consumers.
The Bloc Québécois is not inventing anything new here. We have simply repeated for several years now the recommendations in the report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, which was tabled in November 2003. The federal government has never done anything to help consumers in this regard. It has a fine opportunity here, though, to set up a monitoring system for the petroleum industry.
To understand the steps leading to the debate on Bill C-452, we need to go into the history of it.
In 2003, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology tabled a study on the price of gasoline that made two recommendations to the government: create a petroleum monitoring agency and tighten up the Competition Act. The committee even specified the changes to the Competition Act that it would like to see. At the time, the Bloc was already saying that the government should implement the committee’s recommendations.
In October 2005, the Liberal government came around to the Bloc’s arguments and, as part of its plan to help curb the increase in the price of gas, it tabled amendments to the Competition Act in Bill C-19.
Unfortunately, Bill C-19 was just an election gimmick to give the impression the government was doing something to discipline the oil industry and it died on the order paper.
The Conservatives are quite enamoured of the oil industry, of course, and it is hardly surprising that they did not re-introduce the bill.
As a result, in 2007 the Bloc Québécois tabled Bill C-454, which passed second reading on April 28, 2008. But it too died on the order paper when an election was called in 2008.
In 2009, the Conservative government partly revived Bill C-454 in the Budget Implementation Act of January 27, 2009, although the Competition Bureau still was not allowed to launch inquiries on its initiative.
So here we are seven years later debating Bill C-452 to give the Competition Bureau some real teeth.
There is no doubt, in the Bloc’s view, that the Competition Bureau should have greater freedom of action and more discretionary power over its inquiries. To conduct an inquiry, the Competition Bureau needs access to all the documents so that it can do a good job of investigating and promoting competition.
The Bloc Québécois has long been pressing the government to take action in view of the rising price of petroleum products. Bill C-452 is just a first step toward countering the increase in the price of gas.
Apart from Bill C-452, the Bloc is more convinced than ever that the industry should do its fair share.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, Bill C-452 is part of a plan for sweeping change.
First, we must put a stop to the tax cuts for oil companies. In 2007 or just one year after taking power, the Conservative government gave the oil companies another tax cut in the 2007 economic update. As a result, the companies will see their tax rate fall to 15% in 2012. In that year alone, this tax break will help them pocket nearly $3.6 billion.
We also need to reduce our dependence on oil. Quebec does not produce any oil and every drop that Quebeckers consume impoverishes Quebec, in addition to contributing to global warming. The Bloc Québécois therefore wants to reduce our dependence on oil.
In 2009 alone, Quebec imported $9 billion worth of oil, less than usual because of the recession, but in 2008, oil imports totalled $17 billion. Over a period of five years, from 2003 to 2008, oil imports increased by $11 billion.
Furthermore, to reduce our dependence on oil, the Bloc has proposed substantial investments in alternative energies to create a green energy fund, launch a real initiative to reduce our consumption of oil for transportation, heating and industry, including an incentive to convert oil heating systems, and introduce a plan for electric cars.
We have to get ready, because by 2012, 11 auto manufacturers plan to introduce some 30 fully electric and hybrid models.
The objectives of Bill C-452 are clear. A bold program focused on green energies and electric cars that will allow Quebec to end its dependence on oil is urgently needed.
Until we can put an end to this dependence on oil, we must give more power to the Competition Bureau by allowing it to initiate inquiries, and by creating a petroleum monitoring agency.
Political Loans Accountability Act
April 28th, 2010 / 3:25 p.m.
Steven Fletcher Minister of State (Democratic Reform)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to political loans).
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)