Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to ask you some questions on political financing.
The act, as it is written, does not allow anyone to finance their own campaign. All candidates are required to seek funding for their electoral campaigns. All parliamentary secretaries and ministers are primarily MPs, and they will eventually all be candidates again.
I have a problem to present to you. It is highly probable that at least one company or individual in a candidate's riding will ostensibly create a conflict of interest by donating money to the candidate, especially if the candidate is a parliamentary secretary or a minister, because there's always this notion of “scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours”. In these circumstances, does the candidate have a choice or not?
I'm not sure that the “I'll scratch yours” part applies for a $1,500 donation, because the impact on the total amount raised for the campaign isn't big enough. However, the court of public opinion doesn't care about the amount donated: It casts its verdict on the donation alone.
As the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, what is your position on the obligation that all candidates must evaluate the average value of their campaigns, and, by law, raise funds accordingly? It's a bit ridiculous for some candidates who have the means to finance their own campaigns, but the law requires them to raise funds. The candidates then ask the public to pay for their campaigns, because they are forced to do so. This restrictive approach disadvantages those who have greater public responsibilities.