They want to ban it and replace it with what? If they had to rely on the average voter, they would starve to death. They are already in debt. The Liberal Party is heavily in debt.
Last year our party received ten times as many donations as did the big huge Liberal Party. Our party is debt free. Our party can live with this. Our party gets 60% of its funding from individuals. Our party will not suffer regardless of what happens. People support us in large numbers. They do not support the party over there, not with their pocketbooks.
Obviously the federal Liberals stand to receive almost $8 million worth of taxpayer money in 2004 which will replace the $6.5 million they receive from corporations, unions and associations. They will get some of that still. They are not just replacing the $6.5 million they could lose in the corporate donations, they are topping it up with the bonus plan. They are going to get $8 million from the taxpayers. They keep saying this is going to remove voter cynicism. Well, good luck. I just do not see it.
Voters are not going to say, “This looks good to me; I am hosed into supporting a political party I want nothing to do with every single year for the foreseeable future because it cannot raise enough money from individuals”. The Liberals have to either coerce it out of corporations or they have to get it from sucking on the government tit and that is what they are prepared to do. It is shameful.
Is it any wonder that participation in general elections continues to drop. It was 63% in the last federal election. People are fed up with the whole system. Do Liberals think this is going to enhance it? Do they think more people will say, “Listen buddy, come and vote with me in the federal elections tomorrow because the more people who vote, the more money will go to the Liberals”. People will just run to the polls for that.
What people will say is, “Save a buck, refuse to vote”. That is what it amounts to. The fewer people who vote, the less taxes will be taken out of the system. It is not loose change we are talking about. We are talking about $40 million coming out of tax dollars to go to political parties. It is not going to be a moot point.
One of the things I learned long ago is that when legislation comes into the House, it is always useful to take a moment to ask what is driving the legislation into this place. Sometimes it is pretty straightforward. We have seen legislation that benefits a corporation or a certain type of industry. They push the department because they need some changes to the rules. It is not necessarily unfair. It is just that is what started the legislation. It started with a bunch of lobbyists saying they need changes for example, to the Copyright Act or the Broadcasting Act, so they push to get a change. When it arrives here on our desks in the form of legislation, we can see what started it. We may think it is fair or not but the genesis of it is obvious.
What was the genesis of this bill? What is it that forced this bill, after almost 10 years of Liberal rule, to suddenly become the cause célèbre? Was it a sudden epiphany by the Liberal leadership that is saying, all these years it has been as crooked as a dog's hind leg to take this money but suddenly it is--