House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parties.

Topics

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-22 proposed by the federal government is flawed since it contains no provisions aimed at making the work done by lobbyists more transparent.

This bill just cancels one of the most important political scandals concocted by political friends and well-connected lobbyists. The government simply wants to put out the fire without anyone knowing how it was started in the first place.

Moreover, Liberals do not want to lift the veil on the whole issue of lobbying. If they are behaving in such a way, it is because they want to spare the people around them and not smear anyone, since they too are stuck with some powerful friends in the Pearson affair. And yet, the Prime Minister had promised to get right to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding the negotiation and agreement on the airport privatization.

The results coming out of that promise are very small: a mere study done by a former Ontario Liberal minister behind closed doors and explaining to us that the political staff and lobbyists played an uncommon role in that affair. If the government wants to show that it is clean and transparent, it should order a public inquiry in the Pearson matter.

I remind you that several Liberal members of the Toronto caucus were in favour of such an inquiry. But after realizing that the interests of some friends of the party were at stake, and not only of the Conservative Party, the government, or I should say the Prime Minister unenthusiastically fell back on a mere report produced behind closed doors, that is the Nixon report.

When going through the list of people involved, one can easily make a close connection between these friends and lobbyists, and the previous Conservative administration and the present Liberal one.

I would like to name a few actors that took part in the deal: Pat MacAdam, Conservative lobbyist and schoolmate of Brian Mulroney; Bill Fox, a crafty fox of lobbying and a Conservative, ex-media relations officer and personal friend of Brian Mulroney; Harry Near, lobbyist for the Conservatives and an old member of the party. Also, Hugh Riopelle, lobbyist and strong-man of the Mulroney cabinet; Fred Doucet, always closely or remotely tied to that party that was almost wiped out of this House. There is also John Llegate, a good friend of Michael Wilson. And finally Don Matthews who is the king of the ex: ex-president of the nomination campaign of Brian Mulroney in 1983, ex-president of the Conservative Party and ex-president of the fund-raising campaign for the same party.

All those people gave a helping hand to cook the biggest Tory pie in the history of Canada. But with pies, it is the same as with puddings: the proof is in the eating. We did not swallow that. However all those Tory angels, who always considered public interest as a priority, were not alone in the kitchen of the Pearson Airport.

There were also Liberal angels and that is probably where the shoe pinches. It is surely for that reason that the royal commission of inquiry suddenly became the Nixon study. Transparency went out of the door. There were a few actors, namely senator Leo Kolber who is the specialist of private dinners at $1,000 a plate. For that price you can shake hands with the present Prime Minister. There must have been more than bread and butter served to guests on that evening, among whom was Charles Bronfman, also part of the Pearson deal.

Bread, butter, dignity, pride, openness-all words used to excess by the people opposite. Come on! Let us have a bit of decency and respect for the low-income people of our society. Those people have a clear eye and know pretty well what friends discuss about during picnics at $1,000 a plate.

In the Liberal group there was also Herb Metcalfe, a lobbyist for Capital Hill, representative of Claridge Properties and former organizer of the present Prime Minister. Ramsay Whitters, a Liberal lobbyist closely related to the Prime Minister. A

pretty nice bunch! A bunch of heavies exerting undue influence on the government decision-makers in an unspeakable manner.

Their domination puts our institutions in danger. It produces harmful effects on decision-makers who see and rub shoulders only with one reality, the reality of rich people and large firms. That is very disturbing for ordinary people because decision-makers get disconnected from real social and economic problems that affect the poorest.

The social and human issues are over-shadowed by financial and economic interest linked to profit. All those ex-friends and lobbyists wandering around government offices are looking for profits and they have exceptional tools and means to reach that goal. They can easily open all the doors that give access to ministers and senior officials, and it is not to discuss the weather. All the pressure and influence peddling often gives good results. Decision-makers yield to the requests of friends and lobbyists who are often working for firms that will not hesitate to contribute to the old parties' election funds.

What becomes of ordinary citizens in that system? What becomes of those thousands of organizations without money that are working to improve the well-being of groups and individuals? Do ordinary citizens and those organizations have the same powers, the same access and the same opportunities as those who use their considerable means to influence decision-makers? I do not think so. Certain results are very revealing. The poor and people living in difficult conditions are increasingly forgotten. There are more unemployed workers and more people on social welfare. There are more people who are hungry, more children living in unacceptable conditions and more elderly living alone and receiving less treatment.

As a matter of fact, there are more poor people. And the poor are getting poorer, and the rich are getting richer! Is that the kind of society that we want? Do we want a society increasingly divided into categories? That is what is happening on the field. Figures and statistics are clear. Decision-makers must absolutely come back to reality and try to ensure a better distribution of disposable income between social classes, and they must find a solution to all those excruciating problems. I do not believe that ex-friends and lobbyists can be trusted to see to that. As regards the airport and big profits, I agree they do an excellent job; but when it comes to social problems, we should look elsewhere.

It is urgent that the government establish strict rules for lobbyists. The population has the right, and it is essential, to be informed of all activities pertaining to public administration. The population has that right because at the end of the day it is the one who pays.

Those rules must allow us to know everything about lobbyists. Who are they? Who hires them? Who pays them? What are the goals and results of their activity? Whom do they meet? Actually they should be X-rayed and they should be followed around by a little bird so that we can know everything they do. If the government does not address that problem, the confidence of the population in its elected officials and in our institutions will continue to deteriorate even more rapidly.

I ask the people opposite to wake up because the population is awakening and it is getting fed up with favouritism, bribing on the part of the friends of the party and lobbying of the rich at the expense of the ordinary citizens.

You have denounced for years the absence of openness. I think time has come for you to act.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Bernier Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pity that the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell decided to go to lunch right when I was going to tell him why the Bloc Quebecois had moved in this House the motion that we have been debating. I see that he is back. I would not want to paraphrase the minister of Transport who said in this House, this morning, about us, the members from the Bloc, that we thought he was stupid because we did not seem to understand his answers. I think that my colleague from Glengarry-Prescott-Russell has the same resentment towards us.

I am going to read again the motion moved by the Bloc. It is important to understand the meaning of it. The motion asks that the motion be amended by striking all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following:

"this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-22, An Act respecting certain agreements concerning the redevelopment and operation of Terminals 1 and 2 at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, because the principle of the Bill is flawed due to the fact that it contains no provisions aimed at making the work done by lobbyists more transparent".

It sounds clear to me. The member said that the Bloc would have wanted that bill to settle the case of lobbyists. I think that we might as well specify something for the member without necessarily writing it down. We are talking about the lobbyists who were involved in the Pearson deal, not about the lobbyists who, day after day, stick around the Liberal Party to get favours.

It is crystal clear. Those who reject that motion must not understand its relevance. The motion says that the bill contains no provisions aimed at making the work done by lobbyists more transparent. We are talking about those numerous lobbyists that can be found sometimes on the side of the Liberal Party, sometimes on the side of the Conservative Party but, at all times, on the side of the government. We want to know about that, and that is why we are asking for a royal commission of inquiry.

Of course the Bloc would like the government to present a bill on lobbyists; we will support any measure that would determine the scope of their work. Contrary to what the member for Broadview-Greenwood said this morning about there being Bloc lobbyists one day, Quebecers elected 54 lobbyists and they are all here in the House defending the interests of Quebec, day after day, openly and publicly. That is transparency.

Besides, several members from the other side tend to agree with Bloc Quebecois members on that point. I will even mention one, and I am sure the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell will appreciate that greatly; I am talking of course about the member for York South-Weston who said repeatedly in this House during this debate that, and I quote: "There were a lot of backroom negotiations and much manipulation. There were a lot of payoffs". It is in Hansard . I am sure my colleague will consult it the minute I finish my speech.

He added: "It takes a lot of audacity on the part of Mr. Bronfman and other principals in the Pearson Development Corporation to put forward a claim of close to $200 million for compensation after all of the shenanigans that took place". Finally, he said: "One could almost conclude that the activity bordered on the criminal. I have considerable respect for M. Nixon, but he conducted his investigation and prepared his report in private". There you have it! That is why the Bloc has presented this amendment; its purpose is to shed light on the role played by lobbyists in this issue and not to settle the case of lobbying in Canada once and for all.

Therefore, as I said last week, it is very disturbing to see not only that this bill does not clarify the lobbyists' role, but also that it hints that there is a deal somewhere. As colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois and Reform Party have said, there is an obvious contradiction between clauses 7 and 10. I repeat it for the information of my colleague who was not here last week when I made my remarks. Clause 7 states that no proceedings for damages can be instituted against the government or its representatives concerning Pearson airport. Clause 10 specifies that if the minister considers it appropriate to do so, the Governor in Council may enter into an agreement recommended by the Minister of Transport. Paragraph 10(3) specifies that such an agreement must be concluded within a month after passage of the bill.

What I explained last week, and I will conclude with that, is that people involved in that scheme are told not to worry, that they will not have to litigate and pay legal costs because the bill prohibits legal proceedings. On the other hand, they are told they only have to go to the Minister of Transport right away, make a deal with him, and Cabinet will ratify the deal. But they have to move fast because everything must be done within a month.

If the government took such care to include so many details in the bill, surely a deal has already been made. Otherwise, there would be no need to say it must be settled within a month. The evidence speaks for itself.

If we want to go to the bottom of this issue, and know once and for all what happened with these dealings, we need a royal commission of inquiry. I will repeat for the information of members opposite, we need it in order to know about the work of lobbyists involved in this scheme. Of course, this will teach a lesson to the government, at least we hope so, but we will also get relevant information that will enable us, in the near future, to pass satisfactory legislation to restrict and control lobbying.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I was told that there was another speaker before me.

We cannot support Bill C-22, an Act respecting certain agreements concerning the redevelopment and operation of Terminals 1 and 2 at Lester B. Pearson International Airport.

Even if the purpose of this bill is to cancel an inadequate contract which, as Mr. Robert Nixon noted in his report to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, was "arrived at with such a flawed process and under the shadow of possible political manipulation", it sets cancellation conditions which, in our opinion, are just as irregular and make us think that they are the result of more political manipulation to protect friends of the party in power.

We must first ask the following questions: Why did the government want to change the management framework of Lester B. Pearson Airport? Was the airport losing money? On the contrary, in 1993, this airport made a profit of $23 million, excluding revenues from renting Terminal 3. Did the government believe that the new consortium would offer customers better services at a lower cost? On the contrary, since the deal provides that, for air carriers, the costs would be raised from $2 per passenger now to $7 at the end of construction. And we know that carriers pass their costs on to passengers.

There was only one acceptable reason, and it was the implementation of the new policy on the future framework for the management of airports in Canada that was published by the Conservative government in April 1987. But there again, the Conservative government at the time departed from its own policy by entrusting the modernization of Terminals 1 and 2 of Lester B. Pearson Airport to a private consortium.

Indeed, the new policy on the future framework for the management of airports in Canada called for the implementation of the new approach chosen by Transport Canada; one of its two main thrusts was to emphasize the commercial orientation of airports, their possible contribution to economic development and their taking into account of local concerns and interests.

That approach called for private sector involvement, especially in traditional or innovative airport services as much as possible.

Instead of delegating the management of Pearson Airport to a local public authority similar to the ones in place in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, the government decided to favour a private consortium, thus going directly against its general policies.

It has not been proven that the decision to change the management framework of Lester B. Pearson Airport was made according to generally recognized principles of good public management. One has to look elsewhere to find the real reasons that prompted the Conservative government to sign in a rush, in the middle of an election campaign, the October 7, 1993 agreement.

We would have more luck finding the real motives behind this transaction if the present Liberal government appointed a royal commission of inquiry. We would get answers to some troubling questions. On June 22, 1987, the Conservative government selected Airport Development Corporation to build and operate terminal 3 at Pearson. Airport Development Corporation and Claridge Properties Inc. are essentially the same corporate entity. What do we know about Claridge Properties Inc.? It is a real estate company owned by Charles Bronfman, who is associated with the Liberal Party of Canada. The key people in the company are: Peter Coughlin, the president; Senator Léo Kolber, the manager of Claridge Properties; Herb Metcalfe, a lobbyist representing Claridge Properties and a former organizer for Jean Chrétien; and Ray Hession, an influential former deputy minister who had recently been appointed to the board of Paxport.

On December 7, 1992, Paxport's proposal for the privatization of terminals 1 and 2 was accepted. There were only two proposals, the other one being the one made by Claridge Properties. The companies had only 90 days to submit their bids.

Paxport was then given two months to demonstrate the financial viability of its proposal. That condition was never met. What then do we know about Paxport Inc.? It is another consortium made up of six companies associated with the Conservative Party through some key people, and I will name a few: Don Matthews, president of Paxport Inc, the former chairman of Brian Mulroney's nomination campaign in 1983 and former president of the Conservative Party; Otto Jelinek, a former Conservative minister, now a member of Paxport's board of directors; Fred Doucet, who was mentioned earlier, a lobbyist representing Paxport and long-time friend of Brian Mulroney; Bill Neville, another lobbyist representing Paxport, the former chief of staff of former Prime Minister Joe Clark and a member of the privileged transition team of former Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

What happened next? On February 1, 1993, having been unable to demonstrate the financial viability of its proposal and experiencing some difficulties, Paxport merged with Claridge under the name T1 T2 Limited Partnership. Again, T1 T2 is made up of the same companies: Claridge Properties, Paxport Inc. and the Allders Group.

All of these people have ties to either the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party.

In short, Mr. Speaker, during the whole process, the whole time these transactions were prepared, the present Prime Minister never complained and never said anything about what was going on in this matter.

It was only a few days after the announcement of the general election that the Prime Minister opposed the way it was done. For these reasons, I ask the Liberal Party and some of its supporters why they are afraid of revealing the hidden aspects of this privatization?

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry. You have three minutes left for next time.

Colleagues, I have received written notice from the hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway that he is unable to move his motion during private members' hour on Monday, May 9. The member's office, I am told, indicated yesterday that he would not be in Ottawa on Monday and could thus not proceed with his matter on that day.

Since it was not possible to arrange for an exchange in the order of precedence, pursuant to Standing Order 94(2)(a), I ask the Clerk to drop the order to the bottom of the order of precedence.

It seems proper to add in the interests of all private members in the House that this is unfortunately the fourth time this has happened since Private Members' Business began on March 14th.

The hour provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business will consequently be suspended. Pursuant to Standing Order 99(2), the House shall meet at 11.00 a.m. for the consideration of Government Orders.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Milliken Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member has the floor on a point of order, but very briefly, since it is now time for private members' business.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Milliken Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member for Joliette could conclude his remarks. He is almost done, with two minutes left. I am sure he will get unanimous consent to finish his speech.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to let the member finish?

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Agreed. The member for Joliette has again the floor.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had reached August 30, 1993, when the Minister of Transport in the Conservative government announced that a general agreement had been reached with the Pearson Development Corporation concerning the management of all three terminals at the Lester B. Pearson Airport. What is Pearson Development Corporation?

It is a corporation specially created to manage the three terminals and that incorporated all the activities of T1 T2 Limited Partnership. This new company was also controlled at about 17 per cent by the Matthews Group-Matthews being the chairman of Paxport-at 66 per cent by Claridge Properties, allied to Mr. Bronfman, and at 17 per cent by public companies which were to provide conventional airport services.

You will agree with me, Mr. Speaker, that this structure closely resembles the one of T1 T2 Limited Partnership. On September 8, as we all know, a general election was called by the Government of Canada.

It is then, and only then, that Mr. Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister to be, warned that he would not hesitate, once in office, to cancel that deal if completed. Following this statement, the chief negotiator requested written instruction to sign the contract and, on October 7, Prime Minister Campbell demanded that the legal privatization document be signed that very day.

Three days after the general election, on October 28, the Prime Minister appointed Robert Nixon as special investigator to scrutinize the privatization of the Pearson terminals.

At this point, we should note that Robert Nixon was Treasurer of Ontario in the Liberal government of Premier Peterson, and had been leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.

On November 29, Mr. Nixon delivered the report on his findings, opinions and recommendations to the Prime Minister who decided to cancel the privatization deal on December 5.

The government may want to show its good will by passing Bill C-22 which cancels the deal, but how is it that the Liberal Party never denounced the situation while they were in opposition, and while all these dubious dealings were unfolding before their eyes? Why did the Liberal Party not denounce its political friends and those of the Conservative Party who were gearing up for such favouritism?

Why is the Liberal Party still seeking today to protect its political friends by closing this case in such a way that it will punish the bad Tories who were party to these transactions, but compensate its good Liberal friends who were involved to the same degree in this murky deal?

Why are the Liberal Party and its financial supporters afraid of revealing the hidden side of this privatization?

Why is the Prime Minister still refusing to order a royal commission, the only way to get to the bottom of things?

If such an inquiry is not called, the Bloc Quebecois will not side with the Liberal government and will not support this bill which is as unacceptable as the airport privatization deal itself.

Pearson International Airports Agreement Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

It is understood that the debates will be prolonged by four or five minutes.

The House resumed from March 18 consideration of the motion.

Party Fundraising
Private Members' Business

May 6th, 1994 / 1:30 p.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to support this motion which states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should bring in legislation limiting solely to individuals the right to donate to a federal political party, and restricting such donations to a maximum of $5,000 a year.

I wish to thank the hon. member for Richelieu for bringing such an important issue to the attention of the House.

This is a two-part motion in which both parts play very important roles because of the significant changes each will bring to the existing system.

The first part, as it eliminates donations to individuals only immediately eliminates any group of individuals from donating. I use the word group here in its broadest sense; that is, groups ranging from large corporations of individuals united under a common banner, be it a corporation, a union or an association, to the duo team of the Mr. and Mrs. group.

On the second part of the motion, individual donations limited to a maximum $5,000 a year, I reflect for a moment on the figure of $5,000 and admit that the reasoning for this particular figure versus any other tends to allude me at this time. If it is representative of a certain percentage of the average Canadian income I think it is a little on the high side. On the other hand I am very pleased to see that it does not relate to the amount allowed for an income tax deduction because I anticipate, quite strongly actually, that the present income tax system will itself be remodelled during the next decade.

The concept of identifying a maximum amount for an annual donation is a good one. It creates the need for a candidate and his or her team to go directly to the grassroots, to the individuals involved in the election process to raise the funds needed to facilitate their campaign in getting their message across to as many more voters as possible. It will also reduce any undue influence that wealthy individuals or groups of individuals such as corporations, unions, associations, et cetera may have on the political process.

Some people may criticize this analysis, especially the second reason about the undue influence. They will possibly criticize this as being too cynical or for downplaying the role of public policy in an election. In fact this has already been done.

When the motion was first debated in this House, my colleague, the hon. member for Cariboo-Chilcotin, was portrayed by the members opposite as believing that "all those who contribute to a political system expect something in return". That is from the March 18 Hansard , somewhere around page 2510.

At the same time members opposite use the standard line of many politicians contending that people donate money to political parties based on altruistic principles. That is, people contribute toward a process because they want good government.

I do indeed accept that many people donate for better government. It is certainly true and I wish to state unequivocally that individuals, corporations, unions, et cetera, do in fact donate to political parties and/or individual candidates for the purpose of good government and good representation.

However, as my colleague tried to point out on March 18, it is also certainly true that some donations are made in the political process for the purpose of influence. How else does one explain the fact that many groups, corporations, et cetera, donate money to two different parties? Do they believe that both parties have equally good policies? Or is it more realistic to believe that they want to retain influence in both parties so that whichever one forms the government they can point out later their financial support?

Another observation along this line would be the movement of some corporations, associations, et cetera, of their donations from probable losers to probable winners as the election campaign progresses. This does not mean we believe that every individual or group that contributes toward the political process is expecting something other than good government in return. However, it does point out there are other possible reasons for donating.

The Reform Party does not have a problem with private citizens spending their hard earned money toward achieving good or better government. What the Reform Party does have a problem with is large corporations, unions, special interest groups, et cetera, donating large amounts of money. I am not talking about $100, $1,000 or $2,000 here, but donating large amounts of money to certain candidates or parties because they may see this as a way to control the political process and to influence or dominate a government's agenda.

That is precisely what this motion is seeking to prevent. We are all aware it is a basic reality of politics that for an individual or a party to get elected it requires funding. As an American legislator once remarked, money is the mother's milk of politics.

That is not to say those with the most money to spend on campaigns necessarily win. That was demonstrated in the results of this last election. However, we in the House must recognize that small donations made by individual citizens are the best way of funding of politics in Canada. It broadens the support needed by candidates to get elected. It also removes the opportunity for undue influence of wealthy individuals, groups, associations, et cetera, on the political process.

Party Fundraising
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, before delving into the substantive issues raised by this motion I would like to make a couple of general observations.

It is unfortunate that the hon. member for Richelieu chose in presenting his motion to make some disparaging remarks about the integrity of those who participate actively in the political process. For example, he made several references to greed, pay backs, conflict of interest, connections, access to the inner sanctum, smoke and mirrors, et cetera.

He also claimed that Canadian chartered banks "run political parties behind the scenes". Judging from the record and observation of the Canadian banks in the last few years, they have had enough problems running their own affairs without trying to run the political parties of this country as well.

Throwing aspersions on political parties, on members of Parliament and on those who make contributions to campaign funds does not advance the purpose of this debate. In fact such imprudent accusations reflect badly on the legitimacy and integrity of the House and its members, including the hon. member for Richelieu and the members of his party.

With respect to the issues raised in the course of the previous debate, I note that in presenting his motion the hon. member claimed that the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, known as the Lortie commission, hardly touched on the question of party financing.

It is important to set the record straight. The Lortie commission did look into all the issues raised in election financing. It looked into the question of financing registered political parties, limits on election expenses, public funding of election participants, disclosure of political contributions, political contributions and undue influence.

Three in depth studies were commissioned and published entitled "Money in Politics", "Provincial Party and Election Finance in Canada" and "Comparative Issues in Party and Election Finance".

The Lortie commission, therefore, was very well informed when it made the following recommendations: first, that there be no ban on political contributions from business, trade unions or other organizations except for political contributions from foreign sources.

In arriving at this conclusion the commission paid particular attention to the historical significance and importance of organizations such as unions and business in Canadian politics and to the danger of diverting funds from political parties to third parties. We have seen in previous elections where vast expenses were made by non-political parties in the political process.

Second, it pointed to the possible problem of charter challenges to such restrictions.

Third, the Lortie commission recommended that there be no limits on the size of contributions to registered political parties. In deciding this the Lortie commission found that there was "an absence of any compelling evidence that the number and value of large contributions to federal parties and candidates raise serious concerns about undue influence".

I listened with interest to the remarks of the member for Surrey North. I am sure she was inspired by a sincere desire and interest in the political system. However, I suggest that a thorough examination of this subject by an independent inquiry looked into the matter and found there was no suggestion of the influence that seemed to trouble the last speaker in the House. Further, the Lortie commission concluded that it would be very difficult to enforce such limits.

We have seen other jurisdictions where such unenforceable or difficult to enforce limits run into problems and bring the whole of the political system into disrepute.

I am sure that Bloc members are aware of the problem in France arising from the funding of policical parties. Limits were set, but no pertinent regulations were adopted. It is very important to analyse limits on contributions to ensure they are practical and applicable to individual cases.

During the last Parliament a special committee on electoral reform was struck to consider the Lortie commission's proposals. In the end the committee did not recommend limits on who could make donations and the maximum amount of such donations. I agree with the final decisions of the Lortie commission and the special committee.

The Canada Elections Act, as it stands, provides the necessary mechanisms to ensure that our electoral system is fair and equitable. Notably there are controls on election expenditures. The transparency of political donations is assured in that registered political parties must provide an annual report setting out the amount of money received and the name of each donor who contributed more than $100.

I am of the view that these measures are more than sufficient to protect the integrity of the electoral system. We have a saying that it does no good to throw the baby out with the dirty bath water. There is no question there are problems with electoral financing as there are problems with every aspect of the electoral system of the country.

These problems deserve careful, mature examination and reflection before coming to conclusions. I find that the conclusions in the Lortie commission respect those criteria. It is for that reason I cannot support the motion before the House.