Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-24. This is the second time I have spoken to the bill and it is because of my great concern about it.
I was quite surprised to hear the previous speaker from the government side say that there was wide support for Bill C-24. I have not received a single phone call in my riding of Calgary East in favour of the bill. I have received numerous phone calls opposed to it.
My constituents want to know why taxpayers should finance political parties, a simple question. Hard earned taxpayer dollars will be used to finance political parties. Taxpayers work hard for their money. The government is supposed to tax them for services that improve their quality of life, not send it down. The government is not supposed to play politics with their lives. As I said already, taxpayers cannot understand why they should have to pay for political parties. I cannot answer them.
This government calls itself the natural governing party of Canada. Those Liberal are the ones who have benefited the most out of this whole political financial system. They are the ones who have created it over the years. There are some flaws and there does need to be improvements, but why transfer this burden to taxpayers?
A phenomenon is occurring quite often these days. Somebody needs more money so the government transfers it to them, and this is called user fees. Canadians will tell us that user fees have taken off and there is no accountability. Any organization can charge a user fee and there is no stopping that. My colleague on the other side has a bill before the House, which I am supporting. It tries to bring some accountability to user fees. Bill C-24 is like a user fee.
What is stopping the government from raising the bar and having taxpayers paying money to political parties? There was a revolt in the Liberal Party, and what did the Prime Minister do to pacify those members? He raised the limit. Where does it stop? It will just keep going on and on. It is like giving a blank cheque to the government. With the government's record and when it suits it politically, it will do anything to keep an interest in that file. To Hell with ethics an to Hell with political acumen.This has been the government's record.
Does the government talk about patronage? With regard to Elections Canada, has the government brought in any reform in reference to returning officers? No, it has not. I bet most Canadians do not know that returning officers can only be appointed by the ruling party and nobody else. The government does not want to clean that up.
The government does not want to remove the 50 candidate rule because it benefits the most and it does not want any competition. It does not want to talk about secret trust funds. It also does not want to talk about third party responsibility. If Canadians came to know about that, they would demand change and more accountability. Who does it benefit? It benefits that government over there.
I was amazed to hear the last speaker say that we on this side of the House were attacking the government and that we were being partisan. We are being partisan? Look at the bill and the essence and the intent of it. What does the Prime Minister say about this bill? That it will be influenced by corporations and trade unions.
What does the bill do? There will be a $5,000 limit for individuals and a $1,000 limit for corporations. I am an elected member of Parliament. I go out and solicit campaign funds. Generally Canadians will give $20, $25, $100 or $150. The average Canadian does not give $5,000 to political parties. Only rich Canadians and corporations can afford to give $5,000. Because they give $5,000, why would they not have undue influence? The Prime Minister says that he wants to eliminate that by this bill? It is the same thing. They have just twisted it around so their rich buddies can give them $5,000. It has not changed, it will just be taken away from the corporations.
The essence of not having an influence on this is a counterproductive argument. That is why Canadians ask this simple question. Why should they pay? Why should taxpayers pay for political parties?
This bill also would create an expensive bureaucracy, as my colleague from Surrey just said. Riding associations will require a tremendous amount of reporting to fulfill their bureaucratic requirements. We will be creating a huge bureaucracy with huge reporting requirements.