We went up. You went down. Perhaps they can understand that the Canadian public has made its choice. The public has said where those members are going to sit.
Let us go back to Bill C-9. It is a pleasure for me to rise and speak on Bill C-9. This is a bill the government brought in because of a court ruling. It seems to me, and I can never understand what the government seems to be doing, that this bill is destined to go back to the courts. It came from the courts and it is destined to go back to the courts because it is a flawed bill.
The bill is saying, based on the ruling from the courts, that the government will recognize a party with 12 or more candidates. The government will recognize that party only on an election ballot. The government will not recognize it as a registered party. The difference between being on the ballot and having registered party favours the old parties, including my party—the Canadian public has chosen us to be the official opposition, contrary to whatever the members opposite want to say—and it favours the government.
It seems to me that the government is trying to protect itself. If the trend carries on and the NDP and the other parties keep losing ground, then the bill will apply to them too. If they lose one or two candidates, they will lose party status in the House as well.
We are talking about registered parties. Let me tell the House what a registered party gets. A registered party gets electoral voter lists. A registered party gets the ability to issue tax receipts, which allows it to do fundraising. It is also allowed to provide rebates on election expenses. Most importantly, if for some reason the party is suspended, the bill would allow the party to have its assets liquidated.
What is happening here is that we are creating two classes of parties in the country, registered parties and eligible parties. I do not understand why we would want to do that.
Smaller parties ran in my riding in the November election: the Marijuana Party, the Communist Party and the Natural Law Party. There were also five from the other registered parties.
The Marijuana Party was running on the basis of getting out its message. That is fine. I thoroughly enjoyed having their members as my opponents and debating with them on the issues. They had one simple message they wanted to get out to the public, which was that marijuana be legalized for medicinal purposes. That was their only message, because a Mr. Krieger, who is in jail at this time, was and is using marijuana as a medicinal purpose to counteract pain. He wanted this message to get out. That was fine. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get out one's message. After all, we do talk about freedom of speech. We cherish freedom of speech.
Why can we not have these eligible parties become registered parties? Perhaps the government can give me a good reason. If it is good enough to recognize a party's official status in this esteemed House, why can we not recognize anyone who is putting up 12 candidates as a registered party? Why are we creating two systems here? I will never understand this.
We have a lot of things we can do, but here is a bill that is destined to go back to the courts. The bill addresses nothing, yet we have important issues to be addressed. There are issues about reform. There is the reform of the Senate, and my friend talked about reforming the House so that members of parliament can speak on behalf of their constituents. As is evident and as has been stated time after time, the power of what is happening in the House is with the Prime Minister's office.
We are on the committees, but we know they are irrelevant because at the end of the day everything comes from one person. Democracy in parliament has been eroded over the years, a legacy from past governments of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. That is why the Conservative Party has been relegated to the back rows of the House. This is the legacy that party left, a legacy of the eroding of democracy, of all aspects of power being concentrated in the hands of the PMO.
These issues need to be addressed. The Alliance has put forward a lot of good proposals for debate. The other parties even agree with us on this, in regard to a private member's bill. We are elected by the people of Canada. We are their voice. However, this is my second term and, based on experience, I can tell my colleagues that our voices here are not heard, nor are the voices of government backbenchers.
Let us address the issues that are important. Let us address the fundamental points of freedom of speech, transparency and the ability to allow those who want to speak on behalf of Canadians speak. Let them be allowed. The bill before us does not do that. For these reasons we are opposed to the bill.