House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigration.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question the NDP will have to answer for Canadians is why it is spending so much time attacking the Liberals. Instead of doing its job, it expects progressive parties to attack and criticize the Conservatives.

It is very transparent that the NDP is obsessed with its own political gains. We will see what its gains are in the next election because it plays no role when we have a Conservative government. It could have been playing a much more effective role acting as a progressive voice and standing up to the ideological Conservative policies but instead it is obsessed with its own political standing with Canadians, which, by the way, is very transparent and Canadians are not buying it.

I do not agree with the immigration reforms and I do not support the immigration reforms, and when the Liberals gain the government after the next election, we will reverse these changes. The issue now is when we should have an election. The leader of the Liberal Party will choose when to have an election and we will ask Canadians to choose between the bad old Conservatives and the new, reintegrated Liberal Party.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member asked several questions and deserves answers.

Why is the New Democratic Party attacking the Liberals for what they are doing in this House? Why are we not attacking the Conservative government for its draconian policies?

Let me set the record straight. On 23 or 24 occasions, with the most draconian policies being the subject of votes in this House, the New Democratic Party has voted against them. On those same 23 or 24 votes, the Liberal Party either has failed to vote at all or has had seven or eight members sit in their seats while the rest hid behind the curtain or stayed out in the lobby. To me, the most cynical manoeuvre of all is to put up seven or eight or nine or ten token votes knowing that they are insufficient to have any effect in actually calling the Conservative government to account.

Personally, I would rather know how draconian the Conservatives are. Then I can vote against them, rather than do what that Liberal Party and its Liberal caucus do, which is to pretend they are opposing them but not use the power, responsibility and mandate they were given to come in here and stand up against those policies. The Liberals have hardly done that once since the Conservative government was elected.

Now I have a quick question. Does that member not understand that it is not only the 30 New Democrat members of Parliament who are offended by what the Liberals are doing in fraudulently posing as the official opposition? Does he not understand that Canadians are aghast at the self-serving cynical politics of convenience the Liberals are demonstrating, when they want these policies stopped? The worst policies of the government are its budgetary policies, with the immigration policies and the EI changes the government is sneaking in as part of the budget, on which Liberal after Liberal has stood up and screamed and yelled--

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

If the hon. member for Mississauga—Erindale takes equal time to respond, there will not be enough time for a second question.

The hon. member for Mississauga—Erindale has the floor.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

June 6th, 2008 / 1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member who asked the question for her service to the House of Commons and to her constituents. She has announced her retirement. I have great respect for the hon. member and I accept her questions.

The hon. member talked about cynicism. I wish she would stand up and answer why her party abstained on the softwood vote when we in the House of Commons voted on it. The NDP abstained on that vote. While the NDP members spoke so much in opposition to that vote, they abstained.

The NDP is irresponsible and irrational, but they are good at pandering, I have to admit. They are extremely good at pandering and extremely good at saying whatever they think they can say, but their policy and their irresponsible behaviour ended up causing us to lose the child care agreements that were signed by the provinces and caused Canada to lose the Kelowna agreement. When the Liberals were in power we were working with the NDP, but its members' irresponsible behaviour and irresponsible politics have put us where we are today.

As the Liberal opposition party, we are much more responsible and much more thoughtful. With our policies and with our leader, we will show Canadians that we are the right choice for Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division stands deferred until Monday, June 9 at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

The House resumed from February 14 consideration of Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans), as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to speaking on this piece of legislation. Similar legislation has been before the House on previous occasions. This bill has gone to committee and now is back in the House. I am going to talk about some of the committee recommendations throughout my speech.

One thing we have seen recently is that Canadians have been very intrigued by and very involved in following the U.S. Democratic race, with Barack Obama now poised to battle the Republicans and John McCain. I was always taken by the number of Canadians and the number of constituents and friends who were very much interested in that race and in the enormity of the U.S. political leadership race, including the work that goes into it, the money that goes into it and the whole issue of financing around selecting a leader for a particular party, in contrast to what we do here in Canada.

Obama himself was raising in the neighbourhood of $1.5 million to $2 million each day. The burn rate was about $2 million a day, depending on whether there was a caucus or a vote at the end of that month. An enormous amount of financial resources went into the selection of that leader.

That is in contrast to what happens here in Canada. I spoke with my colleague, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. Over the course of the recent leadership campaign in the Liberal Party of Canada, he was a candidate and raised in the neighbourhood of $2 million. Over the entire length of that leadership campaign he raised $2 million, while the candidates to the south in the American race would do that in a day and burn that in a day.

Looking at our entire field, I think we had nine or ten who started out. The entire cost of our leadership campaign for the candidates was $14 million. I know that it has been an issue in the House and there have been questions and points made on those debts being repaid, but $14 million is a significant amount of money in the political landscape of this country, and $12 million has been paid back so far.

Last Monday was a significant date. Those leadership candidates had to have their repayment schedules tendered with Elections Canada as we go forward. They all complied with that rule. They all complied with those conditions. Those repayment plans have been put forward and approved by Elections Canada. However, we do see a stark contrast between the American system and the Canadian system.

I had the great privilege in 2003 to be appointed parliamentary secretary to the then prime minister, Jean Chrétien. In his last year in office, he brought to Parliament and to the Canadian people a shift in the paradigm with regard to how political parties are funded in this country. It was very significant.

For years, many political parties were funded by big corporations. As for the Liberal Party itself, looking back prior to 2003, major portions of our overall budget were contributed by the banks and major corporations. Whether it was real or not, there was always this perception that any of those large donors could curry favour with the government. We can argue about whether they did or did not. I am not convinced that they did.

The banks were fairly significant contributors. The biggest issue they tried to continue to push with the government was that of being able to merge. They pushed the issue of bank mergers for years and years.

They contributed to the parties, but those mergers were never approved by the Parliament of Canada and never supported by the Liberal Party. Nonetheless, whether or not they did curry favour, it was the perception. In essence, that is really what initiated and then drove the whole process in changing the way we fund political parties.

We made that shift. We certainly reduced the amount that corporations could contribute to national campaigns and to riding associations in the preparation of their campaigns. We also reduced the ability of unions to contribute as well. There were very significant changes through 2003.

Now, with the Federal Accountability Act put forward by the current government, we know that corporate dollars and dollars provided by unions are destined not to be accepted for political contributions. There was also an outright ban on loans from associations or unions.

As I said, this legislation in front of us has come to the House before. It was referred back to committee. Some very significant amendments were proposed through committee. There are three that I want to speak about and then I want to talk about the government motions.

The first amendment was put forward by the government itself. The Conservatives put forth an amendment to allow for loans and sureties that are repaid in the calendar year to not count against donation limits for that year. That was supported by all parties.

To give an example, if person A lends candidate B $1,000 in February and then repays the loan by April, then person A would be allowed to make another $1,000 loan guarantee in that same fiscal period. It makes sense and was supported by all the parties within the committee.

A motion put forward by our party and supported by the Bloc would have amended the bill to allow for donations to be made to leadership contestants on an annual basis rather than as the current law has it. That was voted down. It was not supported by the Conservatives or the NDP. The Bloc also brought forward an amendment.

I am running out of time, but let me say that now the Conservatives are looking at gutting those amendments that were made in committee. They are looking at taking them out of the bill. We do not think that is right.

The government is looking at putting forward three of its own motions. When we send a bill back to committee and have the opportunity to draw on the testimony of expert witnesses, I think we are foolhardy not to utilize that testimony. We do not think it is prudent or wise not to use it.

When the committee makes recommendations, we should stand by them. Certainly in this case, with the three recommendations that came from committee on this piece of legislation, it is the position of our party that we would like to see them included in the legislation.

Hopefully as this debate goes forward each of the parties will have an opportunity to speak to these amendments and to the government motions. Should there be support for those three amendments from committee, I think members will see the official opposition supporting this legislation.