As I'm running right now in a Chicoutimi by-election hoping to get in here like you guys, and I'm also running in tomorrow's provincial by-election, and I'm also running for Brantford mayor, that's a hat trick. It's the third hat trick in my career, which is elections 1994, 1995, and 1996. How can I have fun when they say, “super loser fails again”? I'm going to get the guys who beat me to understand what I'm trying to say. To get an invite to come and talk to you guys was an honour.
I did a prepared statement and I will read it to you. Having run more times than you guys, I felt the pains and aggravations a lot more.
The first point is the threshold for auditor. When I first ran federally in 1979—remember Joe Clark won—my accountant was happy with the $250 cap to audit my nil return made easier by a $2,000 threshold on candidate personal expenses before reporting was required. Today, a winner may be challenged for taking a bus to a meeting without declaring the value of the contributed ticket. Get it? You could spend $2,000 on running around and personal stuff and you didn't have to report it in the old days. No auditor.
In Ontario provincial elections, they are doing it wrong. Candidates could sign a declaration avowing no contributions requiring tax credits and did not need an auditor, but to standardize the forms that then require auditors for all candidates with contributions and without, but they paid for the unnecessary auditor. I wasn't paying it. I didn't mind.
However, when my federal accountant retired after 30 years, I used my Ontario accountant and was surprised with a $700 bill, which is reasonable at these rates, when I had only ever paid $250 in the past for 30 years, but the $250 cap left me owing the $450 overage.
I asked the Federal Court to strike the $250 cap that did not keep up with inflation, ever since 1974 unconstitutionally stifling my democratic rights. Justice Phelan ruled I could raise contributions to pay the auditor—not quite political purposes—or save $10 a week from my pension. I appealed it to the Supreme Court, docket number 36937, but it wasn't important enough to be heard.
Now, Ontario has standardized the forms for nominations candidates for parties from no reporting at all to reporting required with an auditor, an unpaid auditor. Any candidate seeking a party nomination must now pay the auditor out of his own pocket, even with a zero return.
Standardize government requirements, sure, but why standardize party requirements? Parties should make their own rules, but the new regulations are now in place to stifle political participation.
An auditor should not be required before a threshold of expenses is reached, which should apply for election candidates too. The Canada Elections Act should not be job creation for accountants.
A famous dictator once said that those who vote don't matter and those who count the votes matter.