I'm Gary Rozon. I'm an independent auditor. I work, obviously, independently. I work with all parties. I think I have a client or two in this room right now. I've been doing this for over 10 years. Before that, I worked at Elections Canada, so I have a perspective of how things work from the inside.
One of the things on which I've always thought the punishment didn't fit the crime is the issue of making people and agents go to court to file extension deadlines.
For those of you who don't know, after an election, for example, you have four months to file. After the four-month deadline, you have to have either filed or asked for an extension from Elections Canada, which is usually always granted. If you are late and you don't have your paperwork in or you didn't file the extension, you have to go to court to get an extension. This is costly, in the $4,000 to $6,000 range. I'm sure that some of you, as members of Parliament, may not even know. You trust your financial agents and your official agents to handle the money, and for the most part, they do a very good job, but sometimes—human nature—it slips. They forget the deadline. They have to go to court, and the costs are in the $5,000 range and more. For some of the major parties that have the cash or the riding associations or the campaigns that can pay this, it's the cost of doing business, but the same rule applies to people running independently who hardly spend any money, or to someone from the smaller parties who might have raised a couple of thousand dollars. For them to be hit with a $4,000 or $5,000 penalty, as I said, the penalty exceeds the crime.
The same applies to the riding associations that had the May 31 deadline. I've been working with them. It's always a rush for those who forgot about the date. If you have new agents, the dates aren't burned into their brain like they are with some of the rest of us who do this all the time.
One way to get around it, I would suggest—and I've suggested it with some of the agents I've been working with for years—is that in the matter of a campaign, where you're getting back 60% of your spending from Elections Canada.... To make round numbers, if you spend $100,000, Elections Canada is going to give you back $60,000. I'll say that you motivate people the best way you can, and for most people, that's money.
I would do away with the court side of things. I would say that if they did four months, they needed an extension, they got it, they got an extra 30 days, and they still couldn't file after a few days, don't send them to court. I would say to take 10% off every month. Instead of 60%, it would be, “No, you missed the extra month and you're now getting 50%. You missed another month? You're now getting 40%.” That paperwork would get filed faster than any court would ever do.
I'm not going to mention names, but I know that one person in this room had to go through that with their riding association. The file went into Elections Canada. The agent didn't know that Elections Canada puts the “dead” in “deadline”, and he thought, “Close enough.”
Everybody is pointing.