Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the Liberal amendment to the motion that is before us today. The amendment is to reduce the $5,000 figure to $1. I thought I was going to have the privilege of agreeing with the hon. member for St. James. Unfortunately, as usual, they take an entirely different point of view from ourselves.
I was wondering if the hon. member actually understood the main motion in front of us. We are not talking here about the federal government financing political parties. If I read the main motion, in part it says: "the government should bring in legislation limiting solely to individuals the right to donate to a federal political party, and restricting such donations to $5,000 a year".
That has been amended by the Liberals down to $1. We are not talking here about the federal government giving money to political parties. We are talking about the right of Canadians to donate to a political party of their choice. That would be completely denied apart from one single dollar by the amendment put forth by the Liberals.
Perhaps they have a problem raising money. I took a look at some of the donations and donors in the last election. Some constituencies had donations from 300 or 400 different contributors. Multiply that by the money they are allowed to give and of course they were able to finance their campaign. Under this amendment the entire constituency split between several different parties would be able to spend $300, $400 or perhaps $500 in total.
If he thinks we can get through to the electorate, publish brochures, purchase television advertising and split all that between two or three parties with only $500, the previous speaker must know something I do not know.
He was talking about the concern of raising money. In the last election the Reform Party was able to raise almost $10 million or $12 million from small donors. Perhaps the previous speaker
may wish to run under a Reform banner. Then money may not be that difficult to raise in future.
We as Reformers believe that the federal government should not be in the business of financially subsidizing political parties, which is in direct opposition to the previous speaker.
We believe that political parties and lobby groups should be self-funding, raise their own money, and be self-reliant. The level of financial support is going to be totally dependent upon the generosity of the people who support their cause.
We had a demonstration outside the Chamber this afternoon. Several thousand people showed up to support their particular cause. There is no doubt that particular lobby is going to be effective in raising money to advance its particular cause because people support the cause.
That is what politics and political parties are all about. Canadians say: "This is the policy I want to see put forth. Here is the money I wish to use to support them. Go ahead and accomplish the objectives".
We are against the tax credit that makes political donations subsidized by the federal government. We hear so often in the Chamber about how we should subsidize the poor and we should subsidize the disadvantaged. However, when it comes to political donations, it gets turned upside down and the subsidy goes to the largest, the richest and the party that spends most money which quite often is the party in power.