moved that Bill C-276, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (registration of political parties), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to address this issue again. It was discussed on September 27, 1994 in a similar bill which called for changes to the Canada Elections Act.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Canada Elections Act to allow registration of political parties by the chief electoral officer only when the party nominates a candidate in at least seven provinces that have in aggregate at least 50 per cent of the population of all the provinces and at least half of the electoral districts in each of those provinces.
For democracy to work people have to participate. We had seven byelections a few months ago, five in the province of Quebec, one in Etobicoke North in metro Toronto and the other in Newfoundland. At that time the Bloc Quebecois, who are supposed to be the official opposition in this Parliament, declined to run candidates in Etobicoke North and Newfoundland because its agenda is not of national concern.
Yesterday a byelection was held in Hamilton East. The Liberal candidate, Sheila Copps, won the riding. Again the official opposition did not put forward a candidate. By definition official opposition means a party waiting to form the next government if the government in power falls so it can start a new process, a new beginning, with its own party. But in this case the official opposition totally ignored the fact it represents constituents and those constituents have the right to be heard and to discuss the issues.
On the other hand, the third party is the Reform Party with headquarters in Calgary. Its members claim it is a national party. Two weeks ago the Reform Party held a convention in Vancouver. Only 15 delegates from the province of Quebec showed up. The province of Quebec is 25 per cent of the population of Canada. Approximately seven million Canadians live in Quebec. However, only 15 people from Quebec went to the Reform national convention which had about 1,500 delegates. Only 1 per cent of the delegates at that convention were from Quebec.