House of Commons Hansard #111 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

June 12th, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 259 and 260.

Question No. 259
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

With respect to the 23 recommendations in the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar entitled “Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar: Analysis and Recommendations”, released on September 18, 2006: (a) what steps has the government taken, to date, to implement each of the recommendations; (b) what steps remain to be taken to implement each of the recommendations; and (c) what is the timetable for implementing each of the recommendations?

Question No. 259
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, in response to a) The Government of Canada has accepted all 23 recommendations in Justice O’Connor’s report. Work on implementing these recommendations is largely complete.

Some examples of measures that have been taken in response to these recommendations include:

Our government has apologized and compensated Mr. Arar and his family. On January 26, 2007, the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada had concluded a settlement with Mr. Maher Arar regarding his legal actions. Compensation was determined upon completion of the mediation process;

We have registered a number of objections with the U.S. and Syria about the treatment of Mr. Arar;

We have established the Internal Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin;

Canadian agencies like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, are continuing to work in cooperation with domestic and international partners to ensure Canadians are safe; and

CSIS and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade have signed a memorandum of understanding on the roles and responsibilities for addressing issues that arise when a Canadian is detained abroad in connection with a national security or terrorism-related case.

In response to b) While most recommendations have been implemented, the Government of Canada continues to ensure that our law enforcement and security intelligence agencies operate efficiently and effectively with due respect for Canada’s human rights obligations. The government continues to review and amend, as appropriate, national security policies and operational procedures, including the handling and sharing of information, training and ministerial directives.

In response to c) The Government of Canada is unwavering in its commitment to give our law enforcement and security intelligence agencies the tools they need to safeguard our national security and to ensure review mechanisms are effective and efficient.

Question No. 260
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

—With respect to the 13 recommendations in the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar entitled “A New Review Mechanism for the RCMP’s National Security Activities”, released on December 12, 2006: (a) what steps has the government taken, to date, to implement each of the recommendations; (b) what steps remain to be taken to implement each of the recommendations; and (c) what is the timetable for implementing each of the recommendations?

Question No. 260
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is unwavering in its commitment to give our law enforcement and security intelligence agencies the tools they need to safeguard our national security, and to ensure review mechanisms are both transparent and accountable.

There have been a number of calls for enhanced national security review in addition to Justice O’Connor’s policy review. For example, the 2004 Interim Committee of Parliamentarians on National Security and the Senate and House of Commons reviews of the Anti-Terrorism Act, ATA, made recommendations to the government in that regard.

Furthermore, a number of independent reviews have examined the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, CPC. In addition to Justice O’Connor, the Auditor General of Canada, the Senate Special Committee on the ATA, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP have all made recommendations to strengthen the powers of the CPC.

The Government of Canada is carefully examining all of these recommendations, as well as other proposals that have been put forward to enhance the accountability of the RCMP, and is working diligently to determine the most effective review model for Canada’s national security activities generally, and the RCMP specifically.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Notice of Motion
Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I wish to table, in both official languages, a notice of a ways and means motion to amend the Customs Tariff and another act.

I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of this motion.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

moved that Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans), be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, funding of political campaigns has changed dramatically over the years. It is no longer acceptable for political bagmen to go cap in hand to wealthy individuals and powerful interests seeking contributions for a political campaign. Our government understood that this era was over. After hearing tales of bags of cash exchanging hands between Liberals during the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal, the Canadian public demanded action. They demanded that big money be eliminated from the political process.

Upon taking office, we delivered with the toughest anti-corruption legislation in Canadian history, the Federal Accountability Act.

The Federal Accountability Act limited individual political contributions to $1,000—$1,100 in 2008—and prohibited cash donations of more than $20, secret trusts and corporate and union donations.

These changes applied to all types of political entities: political parties, registered associations, leadership candidates, local candidates and nomination contestants.

The Federal Accountability Act levelled the playing field. After it was passed and various amendments to campaign financing legislation took effect, the government believed that the era of political fundraisers was over and that rich and powerful interests could no longer unduly influence the political process.

Some people say that money in politics is like water on concrete: it finds every crack and every crevice through which to flow. Watching the Liberal leadership contest, Canadians found this out the hard way.

The Liberal Party, after relying for years on massive donations from huge corporations, found it difficult to operate in a system that relies on the contributions of ordinary, hard-working Canadian individuals. As a result, while the Federal Accountability Act was proceeding through the legislative process, Liberal leadership contestants discovered a loophole that allowed them to borrow unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals. This loophole effectively allowed candidates to circumvent campaign contribution limits by accepting massive personal loans and resulted in Liberal leadership candidates mortgaging themselves to powerful, wealthy, vested interests.

The accidental Leader of the Liberal Party borrowed $705,000. The accidental Canadian, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, borrowed $570,000. The accidental Liberal, the member for Toronto Centre, borrowed $845,000, and of that, $720,000 came from his brother, John Rae, an executive with Power Corp. and a powerful Liberal insider.

In addition, Gerard Kennedy borrowed over $450,000. The member for Vaughan borrowed over $450,000. The member for York Centre borrowed $300,000. The member for Eglinton—Lawrence borrowed over $240,000. The member for Kings—Hants borrowed $200,000. The member for Vancouver Centre borrowed over $150,000. The member for Willowdale borrowed $130,000. The member for St. Paul's borrowed nearly $40,000.

Collectively, the Liberal leadership candidates borrowed millions of dollars to finance their campaigns. By exploiting the loophole in the Canada Elections Act, they were able to skirt campaign contribution limits that expressly sought to end this sort of undue influence by rich, powerful individuals.

In short, the Liberal leadership contestants showed Canadians that big money found a back door into the political process. More important, it also became clear there was a possibility that rich, wealthy individuals could write off a loan as uncollectable if it was consistent with their lending practices, even if they had no such established practices.

In effect, people could lend money to leadership campaigns and then after 18 months could say the debt was uncollectable and simply write it off. This could result in a massive contribution to a campaign which would far exceed someone's individual contribution limit. Under the current law, this could actually happen.

Now that the loophole and its potential consequences were clear, the government decided to act. The government was not going to sit by idly and allow the Liberal Party to undermine the Federal Accountability Act, especially after the Liberal leader was victorious in his leadership contest, financing nearly half of his campaign with massive personal loans from individuals.

In the first session of this Parliament, we introduced the accountability with respect to loans bill, which at that time was Bill C-54. After prorogation of the first session, that bill became Bill C-29 in this session of Parliament. My speech today opens debate on this bill at third reading.

While I have mentioned the various elements of the bill during previous speeches in this House, I will quickly run through the proposed changes once again.

First, in accordance with the Federal Accountability Act, it limits the amount that an individual can lend to or guarantee on behalf of a campaign to the contribution limit of an individual, or $1,100 in 2008. In addition, the combined total of loans and gifts from an individual cannot exceed the contribution limit of $1,100.

Second, it prohibits unions and corporations from lending money to political entities, which is also in keeping with the provisions of the Federal Accountability Act.

Third, it establishes a standard procedure for reporting loans, which applies to all political entities—associations, candidates and parties. This procedure will replace the provisions of the current act, which provides different rules for the various political entities.

Fourth, riding associations will automatically assume responsibility for the debt of local candidates should the latter be unable to repay their loans. Hence, candidates will no longer be able to evade their responsibilities.

Those are the four major changes originally in the bill. Further changes were made as the bill passed through the legislative process.

First, the time period for the repayment of loans was extended to three years from eighteen months. The government opposed this change at committee, but in the spirit of cooperation, we agreed to the amendment so that the bill could move forward.

Second, the bill was amended so that if an individual's loan was paid back within a given year, he or she could still donate up to the contribution limit.

Third, the bill was amended to require the Chief Electoral Officer to hear representations from affected interests before making a determination about a deemed contribution. This change, although technical in nature, would ensure certainty, uniformity and procedural fairness in dealings with Elections Canada.

Now that the bill is in its final form in the House, the first question we have to ask ourselves is this. Does this solve the identified problem and close the loophole? The answer is yes.

Under our bill, only accredited financial institutions would be able to lend money beyond the contribution limit and only at commercial rates with terms and conditions fully disclosed. No longer would leadership contestants be able to accept massive personal loans from friends, family and vested interests to finance their campaigns.

The bill would also prevent a situation from occurring where a lender could have the power of deciding whether a leadership candidate broke the law. Under the current law, one of the options for seeking an extension of a loan is to have a binding agreement to pay. As a result, the lender, by the fact that they can choose to sign the agreement or not, can decide whether a leadership contestant breaks the law. A loan is deemed to be a contribution after 18 months unless Elections Canada grants an extension.

Under our bill, this could no longer happen. Individuals could only lend or contribute a total of $1,100. Therefore, if after 18 months, a loan had not been repaid and it was deemed to be a contribution, an individual's contribution limit would not be exceeded.

While our bill would improve accountability and increase transparency, recently there has been some criticism that it does not really change anything. That is simply not the case. The criticism is in fact misplaced.

I will point to the following. Under the current law, wealthy elites can exploit a loophole and land unlimited amounts of money to leadership contestants. Under our bill, that would no longer be possible. Individual loans would be limited to $1,100.

Under the current law, unions and corporations, although prohibited from making contributions or donations to political parties, can, however, still participate by lending unlimited amounts of money to leadership contestants, candidates, parties and associations. Under our bill, that would no longer be possible. Unions and corporations would be banned from lending money to political entities in the same fashion as they would be already prohibited from making contributions.

Those are two significant changes to the way political campaigns are financed in our country.

The government understands that loans have a role to play in the financing of political parties, candidates and associations.

The government is opposed to a situation where individuals, unions or corporations are able to provide loans in order to exercise undue influence on the political process.

If a leadership candidate, local candidate or major national party wants to collect more money than the amount set out in the act, it should go to an approved financial institution, borrow money at the commercial interest rate, then disclose in full the terms of the loan in an open and transparent way. This practice works well in a number of provinces. Why do this? Because it is the job of an approved financial institution to assess risk and lend money. It has established lending practices and is accountable to its shareholders for the loans it approves.

Furthermore, the government does not believe that political entities should be authorized to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars from rich individuals, who do not usually lend money, who have no established lending practices and who are not accountable to anyone for the loans they make.

The government does not believe political entities should be allowed to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars from multi-individuals who do not normally lend money, who have no established lending practices and who are accountable to no one but their own interests for the loans that they make.

In the last election Canadians sent us a message.They want to end the influence of big money in the political process in Canada. They want greater accountability, increased transparency and, most important, a level playing field.

Our accountability with respect to loans bill will achieve this by closing the loophole that gives rich, powerful interests an opportunity to exert undue influence in the political process.

Before I close, I want to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for his considerable support and assistance in ensuring that the bill was able to make it through the process to this stage. I am hopeful and optimistic that when it reaches the Liberal dominated Senate, that it will respect the importance of a decision taken by the House of Commons with regard to elections for members to the House of Commons and the rules that govern them. I hope senators will not take the opportunity to obstruct and delay the bill in their party's partisan interests, but will in fact respect a decision of the House of Commons about how the House of Commons should be elected.

I urge all members of the House to work with the government to pass the bill and take another step toward eliminating the undue influence of big money from Canadian politics, and I hope that we will do that very soon.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech about honouring the will of the House. He talked about when the bill was sent to the Senate, whether the members of the Senate would honour and help push it through.

Several bills have been passed by the House and have gone nowhere. The member and the Conservative Party said, during the election campaign, that they would honour the will of the House. That was very clear, yet we have several bills, for example, the veterans first motion, the seniors charter and other bills, that have been delayed. They have gone nowhere.

Would the member guarantee that the government will ensure that these motions and bills, because they were passed unanimously or by the majority of members of the House, are respected and passed also?

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I share the hon. member's concerns about what happens to the business we send to the Senate. As the House knows, our government has a very complete program of modest, but important changes, to how the Senate operates, which we believe would help to democratize it, reform it, make it more accountable and make it more consistent with 21st century values that Canadians expect. Those include our provision that terms be limited to eight years in the Senate and our proposal that Canadians be consulted on who should represent them in the Senate.

The hon. member raises a very good point. One of those bills, the one relating to term limits, actually originated in the Senate, but it successfully delayed it for over a year before we finally introduced it on this side in the House because the Senate was not willing to deal with it.

We have seen the Senate on a number of other bills indicate an unwillingness to deal with matters for what are strictly partisan reasons or otherwise. There is a great concern about that in our system, where we are dealing with a body that, to say the least, lacks the full legitimacy of a democratically elected body such as the House of Commons.

This is why we want to see those changes brought into place. I would welcome the support of the hon. member and her party for both of those elements, term limits that we have proposed as well as the proposal that we consult with Canadians as to who should represent them in the Senate.

I believe if both of those were in place, we would see a body that would be more responsive in dealing with legislation that Canadians have expressed, through the House of Commons, they wish to see passed and of which we know Canadians are strongly in support.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans).

I remind all those who are watching at home that the bill was originally introduced, as my colleague said, as Bill C-54 in the first session of the 39th Parliament.

The bill would create restrictions on the use of loans by political entities governed by the Canada Elections Act, rules that we all respect during elections. We continually strive to ensure that transparency and accountability is within all of our parties.

The bill would establish a uniform and transparent reporting regime for all loans to political entities, including mandatory disclosure of terms and the identity of all lenders and loan guarantors. Total loans, loan guarantees and contributions by individuals could not exceed the annual contribution limit for individuals established in the Canada Elections Act. Only financial institutions and other political entities could make loans beyond the annual contribution limit for individuals and only at commercial rates of interest. Unions and corporations would be unable to make loans and financial institutions could not lend money at rates of interest other than the market norm.

Rules for treatment of unpaid loans would be tightened to ensure that candidates could not walk away from unpaid loans. Riding associations would be held responsible for unpaid loans taken out by their candidates.

As I indicated before, my constituents and I welcome initiatives to improve accountability in the federal government, as I believe all would at all levels of government.

Bill C-29 is a continuation of the groundbreaking work done by the previous Liberal government. My government showed great integrity by reviewing the responsibilities and the accountability of ministers, senior officials, public servants and employees of crown corporations.

A wide variety of concrete measures were adopted to increase oversight in crown corporations and audit functions were strengthened across the board. It was time for us to bring in tighter legislation to ensure transparency and accountability. This was not invented two years ago. The Liberal government worked on this for a long period of time to ensure transparency and accountability. Does everybody follow it? Clearly some members did not and still do not.

From his first day in office, our former prime minister reformed government so that everyone in the public service would be held to account. It was the Liberal government that re-established the Office of the Comptroller General of Canada, very important for all of Canada and its citizens.

It was the Liberal government that strengthened the ethical guidelines for ministers and other public office-holders and established an independent Ethics Commissioner. They are extremely important guidelines. It is important to have an Ethics Commissioner who assists and guides members of Parliament to ensure that we do the best job we can and that we do not get into conflicts of interest.

Many of these things were long overdue, and I am pleased the previous Liberal government brought these issues forward.

It was also a Liberal government that introduced a publicly posted recusal process for members of cabinet, including the prime minister.

Much of the legislation that has been brought in with respect to transparency and accountability is modelled after what the Liberal government introduced.

The Liberal government also put forward legislation to encourage whistleblowers and to protect them from reprisal.

In February 2004 our Liberal government put forward an action plan on democratic reform to strengthen the role of parliamentarians. We heard a lot of debate about democratic reform and about allowing people to have more free votes and an opportunity to have more public and free debate and so on. It was clearly followed when the Liberals were the government of the day.

Referring more bills to the House committees before second reading gives all of us an opportunity to make significant changes in those bills. Otherwise, if they go to committee after second reading, which was the norm until those changes were made in February 2004, there was very little we could do. The principle of the bill was there and we could skirt around it but we could not do a whole to change it. That has made a significant difference in the work that we all do in committee. Again, that was work that we did so members of Parliament would have more opportunity to influence and shape legislation.

We also implemented a three line voting system to allow for more free votes. That was quite important because it was not here in the first five years I was a member of Parliament. We all voted as a bloc with our party. Having the three line and two line voting system gave all of us as MPs on our side of the House when we were in government much more freedom to express what we really felt about various issues.

That was important and it is unfortunate that we lost it. We still have a lot of freedom on this side compared to the government party certainly but having the three line voting system was starting to introduce more democracy to the House of Commons.

We have also pushed for the establishment of a committee of parliamentarians on national security. The Liberal government strengthened audit practices in the public sector through a comprehensive initiative that included the policy on internal audit and to strengthen and further professionalize the internal audit function throughout the government through higher professional standards, recruitment of additional skilled professionals, training and assessments.

In 2004, my government delivered on a commitment to proactive disclosure. Since April 2004, all travel and hospitality expenses of ministers, ministers of state, parliamentary secretaries, their political staff and other senior government officials have been posted online on a quarterly basis. That is accountability. That is being open and transparent so that anyone can go online to see just how much travel and hospitality expenses were, where they were incurred and who went where. That is opening the door in many ways to what goes on in government.

Government contracts worth more than $10,000 are disclosed publicly and, again, posted online. Those were all initiatives by the Liberal government.

My government embraced transparency in key appointments, which was also very important. Through our action plan for democratic reform, parliamentary committees were empowered to review the appointments of the heads of crown corporations, something that should have been done a long time ago to ensure transparency and accountability to Canadians and taxpayers.

We brought increased transparency to the selection of Supreme Court justices and committed to expanding access to information. The Access to Information Act was extended to 10 key crown corporations that were previously exempt from this. We also presented a discussion paper to Parliament that proposes, among other measures, that the Access to Information Act be expanded to several federal institutions that are currently exempt. However, sadly, the Conservatives' secretive paranoia has led to the demise of access to information in this country, and that is a complaint we continually hear from citizens and the media on just how difficult it is now that has been closed down.

My government was the first to seriously limit both individual and corporate political contributions, as well as third party election spending. As my colleague attempts to take credit for all of the changes that were made, he needs to be reminded to look back because the real serious changes to the Elections Act came from the Liberals, not from the current government.

Our Bill C-24 was enacted in June, 2003 and came into effect on January 1, 2004, representing the most significant reform to Canada's electoral and campaign finance laws since 1974. It was well overdue, it was a good act and it made everything much tighter and more difficult but it was much needed. I am quite proud of the fact that our government did that. I am doubtful that the current government would have ever done it.

The act affected contribution limits, those eligible to make contributions, public funding at political parties, spending limits for nomination contestants and disclosure of financial information by riding associations, nomination contestants and leadership candidates.

The Liberal Party supports efforts to increase transparency and accountability in the electoral process. Our history has shown that and we will continue to support that.

We are the party that initially passed legislation limiting the role of corporations and unions in electoral financing and introduced the most dramatic lowering of contribution limits in Canadian history.

All of the Conservatives' accountability facades just build on the great success of the previous Liberal governments.

Candidates for the leadership of our party went beyond the requirements set out by Elections Canada in reporting loans to their campaigns. In contrast, the current Prime Minister still refuses to disclose the names of those who donated to his leadership campaign in 2002.

For ours, people can go online to see every cent that was donated, every cent that has been paid back, where it came from and what is still outstanding. We are not hiding anything, contrary to him.

Whatever it is, the Conservatives certainly do not want to talk about it so they have decided to spread misconceptions about this bill instead.

The Conservatives are misleading Canadians about the current state of the law concerning political financing. The Conservatives are suggesting that the current law allows loans to be made in secret and that Canadians are kept in the dark. That is not true.

The truth is that under the law that is currently in place, the details of all loans, including the amount of every loan and the name of every lender and every guarantor, must already be publicly disclosed.

In addition, the Conservatives are also suggesting that the current legislation allows for loans to be written off without consequence. Again, this is absolutely false. Under the current law, loans cannot be used to avoid donation limits and they cannot be written off without consequences. The proposed new law simply restates the existing rules.

The Conservatives seem to think that Canadians can be fooled into believing that this somehow constitutes a dramatic change but Canadians can see through their charade.

The government has been playing a game of delay and deflect, perhaps to draw attention from its recent troubles. By talking about political loans, clearly, the Conservatives are trying to make us all forget about their little visit from the RCMP at their own party headquarters, or perhaps they are happy to talk about political loans to distract from their latest disgrace, the former minister of foreign affair's security breach and subsequent resignation, or maybe they are trying to distract from their constant politics of division, in which they specialize, by pitting one province against another.

However, let us get back to the bill that is before us today. The bill was significantly amended following hearings by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. However, now that the bill has been reintroduced in the House and will be debated at report stage, the government has made three motions to effectively strip portions of these amendments from the bill.

I do not have time to get into all of the details of the amendments that we had put forward to strengthen this bill but I can comment on the Conservatives' motions to undo our work at the committee level.

Government Motion No. 1 would delete the Liberal amendment to allow for annual contributions to a leadership candidate.

Government Motion No. 2 would make it necessary for loans to be repaid annually, rather than at the point when the loan becomes due. Effectively, this would prevent candidates from taking extended loan repayments.

Government Motion No. 3 would delete the Bloc amendment that removed liability from registered political parties for loans taken by candidates.

The government, again, is not respecting the committee process, which is a process that we all talk about how important it is and yet, if we turn around and undo the work of committee, it clearly questions what was the value of the time and effort put into that.

In closing, I want to say that Canadians must have faith in the integrity of government and in the people who administer it. My government worked very hard to be accountable to the citizens of this great country and I am committed to supporting measures to enhance our prior work of building accountability, transparency and the public trust.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the very cogent and persuasive speech of my colleague from York West.

I just wonder if my understanding is correct, which is that each of the leadership candidates in the Liberal Party's leadership contest, which culminated in a terrific, exciting and most enjoyable convention in December 2006, has entirely and fully complied with the rules and regulations established by Elections Canada?

However, I understand that there are ongoing inquiries with respect to the Conservative candidates in the last election, dozens of Conservative candidates, as I understand it, whose habits, so to speak, during the last election campaign are being scrutinized by Elections Canada.

I would like to ask the member if my understanding is in fact correct.