Indeed I will, Mr. Speaker. That is exactly the type of favourable ruling I was referring to.
What I am saying is that it is a private member's bill which I introduced to engage members in debate on what number of MPs a party ought to have to receive the resources provided to officially recognized parties. I do not think 5% or 10% is an unrealistic number to have. However, I was pointing out that the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle tried to link that to the Canadian Alliance when in fact it was not fair for him to do so.
I took further offence when I reviewed Hansard today. Unfortunately I was not in the House to draw attention to the fact that the hon. member was misrepresenting my position. According to Hansard he made, quite frankly, vicious personal attacks on members of our caucus. He referred to us as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble people and then made disparaging comments about members of our caucus who wear cowboy hats.
I am sure there are many farmers and ranchers in the riding of the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle who wear cowboy hats. Is he saying that they are somehow prehistoric people? That is what he was insinuating about members who have been elected to the House of Commons to represent their constituents.
It raises this question: Why was he engaging in that type of gutter politics and smear tactics? He was doing so to distract attention from the issue. He does not want to engage in the debate on whether or not 5% or 10% is a reasonable number to have in the House of Commons in order to receive official party status. He therefore engages in the longstanding New Democratic Party technique of trying to distract attention from the issue by engaging in personal attacks. It is highly inappropriate.
The member was confusing my private member's bill with Bill C-9. Bill C-9 is about the elections. It is about getting one's name on a ballot, what would constitute an official party and being able to put a party's name on the ballot. I am in no way opposed to the number of members being 12. I would support it being two. If two people want to run in a federal election and call themselves a party, they ought to be able to do that. Whatever rules and privileges we can extend to people who are running in elections, we ought to accommodate that and encourage people to participate and engage in the democratic process.
I want to highlight that my private member's bill in no way has anything to do with that. My bill is after the fact. Once the election is held, once we have accommodated people as much as possible to engage in the democratic process, to call themselves parties and to participate in elections, once the people have spoken, then we need to apply a certain standard. Indeed, right now we do; it is 12 MPs. I am simply suggesting it should be a percentage, and that 5% or 10% would not be unreasonable.
The purpose in that, further to what I have already said, is to eliminate official party representation in the House of fringe or marginal parties, such as the New Democratic Party, and to stop financial resources from accruing to them. If there is any doubt about that, we had the privilege yesterday in the House of being addressed by the prime minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, the leader of the labour party. I would like to quote from his speech. He said:
Finally on trade I just want to say this last point. It is time I think that we started to argue vigorously and clearly as to why free trade is right. It is the key to jobs for our people, to prosperity and actually to development in the poorest parts of the world. The case against it is misguided and, worse, unfair. However sincere the protests, they cannot be allowed to stand in the way of rational argument. We should start to make this case with force and determination.
Clearly the opinion of the leader of the labour party of Great Britain, the prime minister of Great Britain, is that the NDP's opposition to expanding our free trade zones is irrational and, in his words, misguided and unfair. That just highlights and underscores the type of fringe, marginal party that the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle represents. My private member's bill was simply designed to prevent resources from accruing to fringe parties.
I will also take the opportunity to criticize the Liberal government. If we are interested in electoral reform, why would we not extend the discussion and the scope of the bill to include Senate reform?
For decades regional alienation has been occurring in the country, and part of the reason is because of the poor democratic processes that are in place. We could undertake a lot of initiatives to improve democracy and improve the ability of members of parliament to represent their constituents. I will not get into all the things we could do in the House of Commons but I do want to talk about the Senate.
Why would we not elect our senators? It would obviously be more democratic and more representative of the will of the people. Senators supposedly represent people in the provinces they come from. They debate and review legislation that comes from the House. However, to have those people appointed is an affront to the very regions they are supposed to represent.
I have taken the initiative of writing to the former premier of Saskatchewan, Mr. Roy Romanow, on a number of occasions over the past several years while he was still premier. I urged him to enact a senatorial election act that could be done in conjunction with municipal or provincial elections in order to minimize cost and ensure efficiency. It would allow the people of Saskatchewan to choose who they wanted to represent them in the Senate as opposed to the current practice in which the Prime Minister appoints friends and people who have benefited the Liberal Party in some way. This is not a unique or even novel idea.
Alberta has a senatorial election act and has elected senators in waiting. Unfortunately the Prime Minister refuses to respect the democratic will of the people of Alberta and appoints people he has chosen to represent them in the Senate. Ideally we need to reform the system so that senators who are elected automatically become senators. However, as a first step, surely the Prime Minister could recognize and respect the democratic will of the people of Alberta and appoint their chosen and elected representatives, Bert Brown and Ted Morton, to the Senate.
My purpose in writing the premier of Saskatchewan was to encourage him to enact a similar piece of legislation in his province so that we could elect senators in waiting and increase the pressure on the Prime Minister to abandon his undemocratic ways and start appointing democratically elected senators.
Unfortunately the premier of Saskatchewan at the time, a New Democrat, refused to accede to my request and implement such an act. That was most regrettable, but it underscores some of the hypocrisy in the New Democratic Party. The member for Regina—Qu'Appelle talks in the House about fairness and trying to improve the democratic process and yet the former New Democratic premier of Saskatchewan would not enact a senatorial election act that would let people choose who they want to represent them in the Senate. It is quite unbelievable.
I have taken the initiative to write to the new premier in Saskatchewan and I am waiting for his reply. I hope he is more favourable toward my suggestion. I hope he will be more democratic and try to assist the democratic process in Canada, something the former NDP premier was unwilling to do.