Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time I have spoken in the House since the resumption of parliament, but it is my first time participating in debate. I congratulate you on your election as Speaker. I very much respect and appreciate the job that you did as Deputy Speaker in the last parliament and I look forward to your favourable rulings in this parliament.
We are continuing the debate on Bill C-9 from yesterday when unfortunately the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle made reference to a private member's bill that I introduced in the House. My private member's bill would seek to change the current number of members required to be designated as an official party in the House. The proposal in my bill is that a party would require 10% of the seats in the House of Commons. I made the proposal on the basis that I thought it was a reasonable amount. If a party cannot achieve 10% representation then the benefits that accrue to official parties ought not to be available.
In other words we use taxpayer money to assist us as official parties in carrying out our duties in the House of Commons and, as in the case of the official opposition, holding the government accountable for its actions. I am not speaking about benefits available to each member of parliament to represent his or her constituents. I am not proposing that should in any way be changed or altered whatsoever, but I am referring to the parties in general.
The current rule is 12. If a party does not have 12 members it does not get those benefits. My proposal is that 12 is too low a number. It is less than 5%. My proposal is 10%. It was only a proposal.
If the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle would like to amend my bill and suggest 5%, I would be open to that. I do not think it is unreasonable to say that the benefits of being an official party and the financial resources made available to it will be allowed if the party has 5% of the seats in the House of Commons. Surely that is not too onerous a level to achieve.
What I take particular offence to is the manner in which the member, quite frankly, misled and misrepresented my bill and my position. First, let me make it very clear that he went to great lengths to say that this was official Canadian Alliance policy when in fact it is a private member's bill. He has been in the House long enough that he ought to know the difference. He should not misrepresent my private member's bill or misrepresent the official policies of the Canadian Alliance.