Evidence of meeting #106 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was elections.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Andre Barnes  Committee Researcher
Allen Sutherland  Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Machinery of Government, Privy Council Office
Manon Paquet  Senior Policy Advisor, Privy Council Office
Jean-François Morin  Senior Policy Advisor, Privy Council Office
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Andrew Lauzon
Stéphane Perrault  Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada
Anne Lawson  General Counsel and Senior Director, Legal Services, Elections Canada

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

Every fact situation is unique, but it would be preferable to have a clear anti-avoidance rule. There is one in the bill for spending, but there isn't one on the contribution side and on the funding side.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

We should get all foreign influence out of Canadian elections. I join my Conservative colleagues and friends in looking to making the playing field actually level. By the way, CAPP is going to run into all sorts of issues if we actually do this.

Let's look at the convention loophole. I don't understand it. Under this bill, a very wealthy person could come in and pay for a leadership convention outright.

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

If the price of the ticket is such as to cover basically just the cost of running the convention, and my understanding is that this is often the case, that there's not much money made out of party conventions—

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Conventions are usually money losers for parties, at least for us.

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

—in that case, as long as the overhead exceeds or is not greater than the cost of the tickets, an individual, a wealthy person, could buy all the tickets.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

That person could buy every ticket to a convention and pay for it outright.

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

Correct. That's my concern, that a party convention is a party activity, and funding for party activities—

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

That's not the case right now, though. That would be new.

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

That would be new.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Okay. I'm trying to understand where this came from. Does that not seem like a massive loop around the restrictions on what an individual can donate to parties?

We all face limits. Rich people can't come in and just drop $1 million on a party. We have laws against that. However, if the convention costs $1 million and they pay for it by buying 3,000 tickets at whatever price....

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

I think where it comes from is if you compare that with the ticketed fundraisers.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Yes.

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

In our interpretation of the act over the years, we've accepted that part of the tangible benefits that people receive is the venue. When you go to a restaurant, it's not just the plate; it's also the venue.

We have not accepted that for conventions because a convention is a party activity. It's doing the party's policy. That is our interpretation.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Yes, because there's no benefit in just hanging out at the Halifax Convention Centre for a weekend.

It's not something people seek to do for part of their vacation, to hang around a convention centre.

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

To each his own.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

You guys have a strange way to party.

I just don't understand why that would be contemplated. I've never—

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

To be quite frank, I'm not saying that what was contemplated is the loophole that I've identified.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

But this is what the effect is.

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

In the worst-case scenario, it's what the effect could be.

I'm saying that there has to be a way to at least preserve against the worst-case scenario. I'm offering a number of ways of doing that, some of which I think achieve what was intended by the bill. At least by providing a limit to it, we're providing some transparency.

May 28th, 2018 / 7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

On privacy, there is no minimum standard for the parties to achieve.

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

On the privacy side.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

I asked the minister about the collection of data and whether there is a minimum standard. They said they're going to make the parties put their policy up on their websites, where you have to click seven times to find it, and that's good enough.

There's no enforcement, so if the parties breach some of our privacy laws.... We're not subject to any privacy laws, are we?

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

That's correct.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

None...?

7:30 p.m.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Stéphane Perrault

None whatever, no.