Madam Speaker, here we were in the middle of the election campaign surrounded by yogic flyers.
That would have been great, except that when the election was over I checked into it. They received a grand total of 84,000 votes in the last election, .6 per cent of the total votes cast. They also received $717,000 from the taxpayers of Canada in reimbursement for their national campaign expenditures. It worked out that the taxpayers of Canada reimbursed them $8.41 for every vote cast. They spent $37.38 for every vote they received, which is their business. It did not make sense to me that the taxpayers of Canada should be subsidizing what really is not a political party.
The intention of having the national campaign party reimbursement was to ensure that national or regional political parties had some income between elections. It was intended to
keep them going. National or regional political parties are necessary for the lifeblood of the country.
In looking at the campaign expenditures, we thought about how we would make sure the hurdle was low enough, so small that parties could get started yet high enough to be real. We came up with the figure of 2 per cent. Federal parties would have to have spent 10 per cent of their total allowable limit and also have garnered 2 per cent of the total votes cast. In the last election that would be something like 270,000 votes across the country.
Some with whom I have discussed this bill have suggested it might be appropriate to have a lower threshold. If that is the case, I would be quite happy to consider amending this bill to have a lower threshold, perhaps 1 per cent.