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House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parties.

Topics

Question No. 222Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

A number of Canadian tobacco manufacturers and importers have provided reports to Health Canada in accordance with the requirements set out in the tobacco reporting regulations, TRR.

With respect to (a):

With respect to (b), a previous request under the Access to Information Act (ATIA) for information submitted under section 18 of the Tobacco Reporting Regulations was received in 2001. At the time, our decision to release this information was challenged before the Federal Court by the tobacco industry. The request was withdrawn by the requester and the determination of whether the information could be released under the ATIA was never resolved by the court. The information is not currently available for disclosure in this manner and the use of a statutory system such as the Access to Information Act (ATIA) is the most appropriate avenue for a request of this third party information.

With respect to (c), none. This section of Tobacco Reporting Regulations only comes into effect after October 1, 2003

With respect to (d), none.

With respect to (e):

Note: The number of retailers does not represent individual retailers as the different tobacco companies may have made payments to the same retailer and retailers would therefore be included more than once in totals.

With respect to (f), the following non-tobacco products that displayed a tobacco brand element were disclosed under section 24 of TRR: golf balls, pocket knife, pen, blanket, banner, display booth, bag, ballot box, clock, port glass, pipe, and filter tip tubes.

Question No. 224Routine Proceedings

June 10th, 2003 / 10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

With respect to the payment of licencing fees from Canadian Wheat Board pooling accounts contrary to section 7(3) of the Canadian Wheat Board Act: ( a ) what facts has the Minister Responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board discovered; ( b ) what corrective action has he taken; ( c ) what were the results of the investigation by his officials and law officers; and ( d ) since January 1, 2001, what is the total amount the Canadian Wheat Board has taken from pooling accounts to pay interprovincial and export licensing fees including the administrative and management costs for the national licensing program?

Question No. 224Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

This matter was referred to the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) board of directors and their legal counsel.

Regarding (a), fees or costs associated with the administration of licences fall within the purview of the management of the CWB, which is conducted under the direction of the CWB board of directors. The CWB has indicated for the 2000-01 crop year that export licences issued for grain produced in the designated area amounted to 96% of the total licences issued. The administrative costs of issuing export licences in the 2000-01 crop year amounted to $101,115. Almost all of this expense was incurred with respect to staffing. As such it is an administrative expense of the CWB and may be deducted from proceeds received into the pool accounts per paragraph 33(1)(a) of the act. The CWB's Export Licensing Department handles all aspects of issuing export licences and is composed of two full-time members. Given that most of the export licences are issued in connection with grain produced in the designated area, it would take both staff members to administer those licences alone. Accordingly, there are no incremental costs to the CWB for issuing the relatively small number of licences for grain produced from outside the designated area.

With respect to subsection 7(3) of the Canadian Wheat Board Act, the CWB argues that this subsection, in fact, deals with losses sustained by the corporation. Subsection 7(3 ) provides that such losses from its operations in relation to any pool period relating to interprovincial and export marketing of wheat by the CWB, and from other operations, for which no other provision is made under the act, shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament. Given that there are no incremental administrative costs regarding grain from the non-designated area, there are no losses sustained by the CWB from administering these export licenses.

Regarding (b), no corrective action was required.

With respect to (c), the answer to (a) above describes the facts discovered and the response to (b) above describes the conclusion reached.

With respect to (d), the administrative costs of issuing export licences in the 2000-01 crop year amounted to $101,115.

Question No. 224Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 224Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 224Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That in relation to Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act (political financing), not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1 there will now be a 30 minute question period. It would be helpful to the Chair to get an indication of how many members have an interest or would be indicating their interest in asking questions during this 30 minute period. That sometimes gives the Chair a heads-up and reminds members of how many people want to actively participate in this 30 minute question period.

I ask all members to be cognizant, to the extent possible, of the number of members who want to participate. The Chair will attempt to facilitate as many participants as possible, but of course without your cooperation I will not come anywhere near meeting your test of fairness. I will do the best I can.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White Canadian Alliance North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, shame on the minister for introducing time allocation yet again.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that Bill C-24 is about ending corruption in the Liberal Party. Heaven knows there are plenty of examples we can use. There is the ongoing Shawinigate investigation, secret contracts given to relatives of Mr. Gagliano, millions wasted on non-existent reports and untendered advertising contracts, and all sorts of corporate welfare to companies like Bombardier.

I would like to know from the minister exactly how Bill C-24 will stop all of these scandals and the corruption in the Liberal Party of Canada. How will the snatching of $10 million a year from taxpayers to fund the day to day operations of the Liberal Party of Canada prevent the Prime Minister from giving lucrative contracts to his friends and relatives? How will Bill C-24 prevent ministers from awarding lucrative contracts to their sons, daughters, uncles and friends?

Is the bill actually not about hiding the corruption and scandals in the Liberal Party? How exactly will Bill C-24 clean up the corruption and scandals in that party over there?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was not a very serious question asked by the hon. member. We are supposed to be discussing this morning why time allocation at this stage of the bill is required. Instead we have these questions which are not really serious and it surprises me because the member is usually a very serious person, particularly as it pertains to election laws. I will be the first to recognize some of his valuable contributions. We do not always agree on election laws, but on Bill C-2, which we did before, he made a number of suggestions which were constructive. Even on this bill, which he also disagrees with, he has been helpful from time to time. But having him rhyming off what he perceives to be so-called scandals and to say he wants my response to that, it of course it has nothing to do with the issue before the House, and it has nothing to do with anything because they are largely in his mind.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have just a couple of brief questions for the government House leader.

The first one is on the rationale for raising the public moneys in lieu of corporate and trade union donations from $1.50 to $1.75. I would just observe that the minister, when he came before the procedure and House affairs committee, indicated that $1.50 was adequate and that no political party was going to be injured as a result of that stipend to offset the trade union and corporate loss of donations. That is question number one. What is the rationale for raising it by 25¢?

The other one deals with the fact that the vast majority of trade union locals will not be able to contribute to the political process, while corporations, or at least many franchise corporations, will be treated much differently. I am asking for the minister's response.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me deal with the two issues separately. On the matter of $1.50 and $1.75, only a few minutes ago a report was tabled in the House by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The standing committee voted to let me have a copy of it in advance so that I could provide whatever improvements at report stage were necessary to reflect the views in the report, which was being drafted and which was tabled today. The increase from $1.50 to $1.75 is one of those recommendations that was brought to me today. As a matter of fact, it is recommendation 10 in the report. That is the rationale for that increase.

Second, I myself said, both through the media and elsewhere, that the view I had received was that $1.50 was the appropriate amount. I said if the committee was of the view, and if it could convince itself and everyone, that the amount should be increased, or decreased if it felt it was the wrong amount, that I was prepared to review it. I have the recommendation which said to review it and I did, to the penny to the amount recommended by the committee.

On the other question regarding corporate contributions, that is not correct. A private enterprise is a private enterprise and that is determined in the Income Tax Act.

The Royal Bank cannot give $1,000 for every branch it has. That is a branch of the same corporation. But if someone has a private enterprise, such as a store they own, whether the store is called Home Hardware or whether it is a GM dealer, the dealership does not belong to Home Hardware or GM. That is the brand of product they sell. The arrangement by which one sells a product is usually called a franchising agreement, but this does not mean the store is the property of the corporation that sells it the product.

The criteria is set out in the Income Tax Act. It is this reference in the Income Tax Act, which determines what a separate corporation is, that is used, so that if someone is subservient in any way to another corporation in a way that does not satisfy the Income Tax Act, it does not qualify. They have to be privately owned, period.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White Canadian Alliance North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the minister to say that the scandals and corruption in the Liberal Party are only in my mind is to deny the obvious at the very least.

During committee hearings on Bill C-24 the only witnesses who said that $1.50 per vote was not enough were witnesses from the Liberal Party of Canada. Every other witness thought that $1.50 was plenty of money. In fact a number of witnesses said that taxpayers should not give any money to political parties at all. It was only his trained seals who voted in committee to put that recommendation in the report that it should be raised to $1.75.

I want to ask the minister why it was raised from $1.50 to $1.75. Was it solely because the Liberal Party president, Stephen LeDrew, said that the Liberal Party would be bankrupt if it did not get more money? Now Mr. LeDrew did not share any financial information with us, so where is the justification for this increase in the subsidy from taxpayers to support the day to day operations of the Liberal Party?

How can the minister claim that this bill is about fairness and transparency when it is obvious to everyone that it is simply about using taxpayer money to fund the Liberal Party of Canada?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the formulation in the bill for the subsidy arrangement is almost identical in terms of its construction to the one utilized at the provincial level in New Brunswick, Quebec and in Prince Edward Island. It is based on the result of the previous election. It is constructed in an identical way.

Maybe a little bit of the historical background of how the bill came into being would assist the hon. member and other members. Last summer I travelled the country and met with the chief electoral officer and the ethics counsellor or commissioner, in whichever case, in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. I received materials from the smaller provinces as well. The regime for the subsidy comes from Quebec, New Brunswick and P.E.I. The system that forbids corporate contributions is based on Manitoba and Quebec. The one that registers constituency associations is largely modelled on the Ontario and B.C. models.

We sought to take the best model at the provincial levels across Canada. We topped that up with ideas of our own in order to produce what I think most Canadians, looking at it fairly, will say is very good legislation for Canada.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a different kind of question. We have five parties in the House so logically we would have 1,505 associations throughout the country. I was going to say that the minister knows as well as I do, but maybe he does not because it depends perhaps on the area one represents how well organized one is, how much money flows into one's coffers. We hear stories of not only thousands but tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in some of the associations. Whereas in a lot of other areas, especially rural areas, it is extremely hard to raise money so raising money is not the main objective of an association. They are there to help out volunteers who come in without any great responsibility or onus put on them.

However now they are going to have added responsibilities. My concern is that in many areas the volunteers who came forward to help out will no longer be there because of the pressures being put on them. How does the minister see that as it unfolds throughout the country?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a very useful question, if I may refer to it that way.

I was a volunteer at the political level for a very long time, even before I was elected, which has been a very long time.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

Too long, Don, too long.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

I do not know. We will let my constituents decide that one. I usually trust their judgment better than that of some of the members across.

As it pertains to how that part works, in my own province, in my riding, which is a rural riding, and it would be the same for everyone here who represents an Ontario constituency, our constituency associations receive funds. They have an account and it is audited at the end of the year. They must provide a statement that is public. They must show the public what has been done with the money and so on. These are the exact same boundaries and the exact same ridings that we represent but no such transparency exists at the federal level.

It was not normal that we were able to satisfy that kind of transparency level for three decades at the provincial level and the identical riding, many times with the same volunteers, has not done so at the federal level. I think we are all in favour of augmenting that transparency.

Someone said that if a riding association is not very sophisticated, it only has a few volunteers and is a very small one and so on, of course it does not have to do that. It can be administered centrally. That is again the case in Ontario law, although I understand that in the Ontario law about 99% of all associations do have their separate reporting mechanisms and so on at the present time. It is very exceptional that the party does it itself, but it can. It has the residual power to do so which is provided here in the event that there is not a local constituency association at all in a certain area.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader failed to answer my colleague's question on why the amount was increased from $1.50 to $1.75.

One week ago the Prime Minister stated that $1.50 per vote was enough to cover the shortfall of the Liberal Party funding, so that would justify the funding increase. Faced with growing opposition within the Liberal caucus and with Liberal members themselves insisting that they would not vote for this legislation, it has been increased to $1.75 per vote. It has been increased from $7 million to $9 million.

Aside from just quelling opposition within the Liberal Party's own ranks and aside from, frankly, buying off his own backbenchers, what justification can the government House leader give for increasing it from $7 million to $9 million, from $1.50 per vote to $1.75 per vote?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the object of the bill is to have revenue neutrality in that regard. Insofar as the public subsidy is concerned, members provided the recommendation. I have it here in front of me. That recommendation was put in a report stage amendment.

Second, I do not believe the members behaved in any way that is greedy or unfair. They put another recommendation in there about the financial impact. If that financial impact produces too much money or not enough, then it will be reviewed immediately after the next election.

I have also taken that recommendation and put it as another report stage amendment to ensure that it is correct. These are recommendations that were made to adjust the amount and then to review it later to be doubly sure that accusations of this kind, made unnecessarily, will be proven even more to be false because it will be reviewed to ensure that it is exactly the revenue neutral amount afterward.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, like many other members here, I really am concerned about the decrease in participation in federal elections.

I have a private member's item that deals with youth voting. It is my hope that the virtual banning of corporate and union donations will help somewhat toward the perceived problem there.

When people come to me during an election and say that this time they really feel they cannot vote at all, although members opposite may find it very difficult, since they cannot vote for me I try to get them to vote for one of the other parties. However, failing that, I tell them to go to the poll and officially destroy or reject their ballot so that they can become a statistic in the electoral process.

However, with the new legislation it seems to me that I have an additional argument. I can say to those people that if they vote for one of the smaller parties, the non-parliamentary parties, they will, through this subsidy, be able to help them over the next three or four years to keep their campaigns going locally and nationally.

Does the minister not agree that this is a useful argument that would encourage people to participate in the electoral process?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, arguably, there is a possible benefit there. How many times have political parties, the party across, mine or any other, gone to a voter and asked “What is the use in going to the poll in this constituency since his particular variety of candidate cannot win and, therefore, it just does not do anything?”

I, of course, always think that it is worth voting. Every Canadian should vote all the time for all the good reasons of contributing to this representative democracy in which we live.

An additional reason here, by ricochet, as it were, is that there is no such thing now as a vote, even a losing vote, that does not have a count to it because people are contributing to the voting process, not only to the election of the candidate but the actual support of the party which people happen to espouse, providing of course they are voting--

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

An hon. member

Where is freedom?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, someone is heckling about freedom. People are free to vote and people do exercise that freedom by voting.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

An hon. member

But you are charging them to vote.