I hear the parliamentary secretary asking how much we will give back, as if that is even relevant to this discussion. How does that justify a raid on the public treasury to pay the day to day operations of a political party? How does that justify it?
However I will answer his question as to whether we will pay it back.
We do not make the rules of the game and we do not control the rules of the game. The government side makes the rules and if it thinks we are so stupid that we will not play by those rules and put ourselves at a disadvantage while it collects $9.5 million and completely cut ourselves off from funding, well, give me a break. The government is just grasping at straws trying to justify the position it has taken.
I hear one of my colleagues talking about the bill being as dumb as a bag of hammers. There is a misconception out there that Stephen LeDrew, the president of the Liberal Party, called the bill dumb as a bag of hammers. However he did not actually say that. What he said was that the concept was as dumb as a bag of hammers. He did not like the idea that there would be no corporate donations. I am pleased to get that on the record. I am sure it has been very hurtful for the Liberal Party to have its president constantly misrepresented that way.
However let me get back to the transfers from the federal treasury. The position of the Canadian Alliance is that we believe that special interest groups and political parties should raise the money that they need for their day to day operations from the people they purport to represent. They should face their membership eyeball to eyeball, explain why they need the money and ask them for the money.
It is not good enough to simply stand in this place, the way the parliamentary secretary did, and say “Well, parties do important work between elections so we should have $9.5 million a year to do that”, without ever explaining what this important work is. I am certain there will be plenty of wining and dining on that $9.5 million. I will bet there will be a lot of bottles of French champagne cracked open for that one. It will not be very good at all.