Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, but I must say that it is a rather revisionist view of how the bill came to be introduced.
The first request to speed up the process came from the Canadian Alliance. This was done publicly. The current leader of the Conservative Party followed suit very quickly; he asked in front of the media that the bill be passed more quickly. Of course, we saw yesterday this same leader and his party vote against the bill. However, the leader of the Conservative Party had made a statement, which was reported in the media, in favour of the bill.
It is true that some members on this side of the House also wanted to support such an initiative. If the government had been against this bill, of course, we would not have introduced it. We introduced it because we are in favour of it. It is just common sense. However, the original request came from two opposition parties, which suggested this initiative to the government. I must add that there were consultations with all political parties. Of course, later on, some members decided to be less in favour of the bill than they had been previously. This is how the bill came to be introduced.
Now with regard to calling this a partisan initiative, it is not. I think that the member wants to play partisan politics with a non-partisan issue. We are not asking to change the electoral boundaries to favour one party over another. There is nothing to that effect in the bill. We are not changing boundaries.
Here is what this is all about. The current system has been in existence for about 40 years, going back to the days when maps were drawn manually. Over the last decade, the new way of drawing maps has changed everything. The member must know that if he appeared before the Subcommittee on Electoral Boundaries Readjustment. I appeared before that committee regarding the boundary between your riding, Mr. Speaker, and mine. I alleged that such a boundary would transfer about 4,000 votes from one riding to the other. We asked the expert if he could do that on the screen, if he could draw the map right away. The expert clicked on a button, and we could see on the screen that maybe 4,800 votes had been transferred. We had the precise number in three seconds. This used to take weeks. Now, with the mapping system that is used today, these things can be done rapidly.
The question that I am asking it this: is it logical for this House not to accelerate the process and not to assure Canadians to the highest degree possible that a new map will be in place for the next election, instead of the current map which could be 18 years old by the time the next election is called? It is not normal to deprive people of that right. We have the tools, we have the mapping system, and the chief electoral officer said that he could be ready by April 1. Therefore, we are doing it.