Okay. Take up your headphones. I will speak French also.
Ladies and gentlewomen, please turn on your cellphone and play Candy Crush; call your husband; reheat your dinner; text your lawyer; take a nap; take an emergency exit; close your eyes and stop listening: here comes the Dealer of the Rhinoceros Party of Canada. Hello.
Mr. Chairman, the Honourable Larry Bagnell, do you know that you used to be my member of Parliament? That was for three months in the summer of 2009, when I spent my summer in Whitehorse.
Dear committee, merci for welcoming me ici and now.
This is my first time appearing before a parliamentary committee and I think it is very appropriate to invite the leader of the Rhinoceros Party. Thank you. The members of the party and I do have good ideas at times.
It's always great to share them with you.
I would like to draw your attention to the public funding of political parties.
There is nothing about it in this bill. That was removed. The public funding of political parties was removed by the Stephen Harper government because he does not believe in corruption inside political parties.
It was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who established public funding for political parties in 1974. The purpose was to fight corruption in political parties and in the awarding of public works contracts. Abolished by Mr. Mulroney, the public funding system was reinstated by Jean Chrétien after the sponsorship scandal.
I would like it back.
The Prime Minister of Canada lied to Canadians when he said 2015 would be the last election with the first-past-the-post electoral system.
Our nation still has an archaic electoral system inherited from when Great Britain was our overlord, MPs listened to their local populations, and political parties had no party line that it was mandatory to follow.
In 2008, the Green Party of Canada received almost one million votes, yet they had no elected MPs—zero, nobody. At the same time, the Conservatives got 5.2 million votes, which is only five times more votes, and they elected 143 members of Parliament.
You call Canada a democracy? How cute. Five members of Parliament were elected with less than 30% of the vote, 69 members of Parliament were elected with less than 40% of the vote, and, 60% of the members of Parliament—206 MPs—were elected with less than 50% of the votes in their ridings.
Bill C-76 is off the track: you forgot to talk about what really matters in our democracy.
I agree that we have to make sure no interest groups will buy advertisements right before the election. You are right when you say that no other countries should interfere in our electoral process—except Russia: I would like money from Russia.
You can't tell me that you lack time to implement an electoral reform that is right—and right now.
I know that is not true, however. You have decided to set aside this change. When the time came, you decided not to go ahead with it. It is the same as with climate change: one day we will wake up and it will be too late.
I know that the only thing I can really change today by coming here is the public funding of political parties. Let me end with that.
In the report of the Special Committee on Electoral Report tabled in December 2016, entitled “Strengthening Democracy in Canada: Principles, Process and Public Engagement for Electoral Reform”, the committee recommended in chapter 7, section G — g like government — that the per-vote subsidy and funding of political parties be reinstated.
It had been eliminated in 2015.
That same report states that: “ [...] the current system of individual donations to political parties is less equal, as donations vary greatly between Canadians of different socio-economic levels.”
Public funding makes Canadians feel that their vote counts.
Appearing before the committee, Ms. Melanee Thomas stated:
[...] internationally, most countries do have some form of public financing. It's broadly seen to be a good thing, because the political party is a key institution linking representative institutions and the voting public.
Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the former chief electoral officer of Canada, recommends that it be reinstated.