Mr. Speaker, I want to take a moment to speak to the second group of amendments.
I have listened attentively to the speech just given by the hon. member. I know he feels very profoundly about his constituents. I know he works very hard for them. However in his speech he has not stated correctly the position of all of us in the House.
That being said, I will be the first to admit that he works hard for his constituents. I remember last summer when we had a crisis of another kind in his part of the country. He and I were speaking to each other during the summer months from our respective homes, working on such things as the Hay West initiative. I know how hard he and another member from Saskatchewan worked.
The Saskatchewan farmers were in my office last week. Again, we were discussing not only the problems they have now, which are very real and very serious, but we were also discussing the issue of last year in which constituents from my constituency, your constituency, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I can address you as such for the purpose of identifying your constituency because your constituents were very helpful, and those from a number of areas.
I do not agree with some of the things that are being said now. The issue of the legislation in the House and the issues of the overall agenda of the government are not identical. Obviously a minister negotiating with a province to obtain help for a group of people is not necessarily a legislative initiative. Where the two coincide is in question period where members, opposition members in a greater number but government members too or government supporting members, question the government to ensure that it does what is best for Canadians. That is done by question period. That is done by the statements that we make in the House of Commons. That is done by the private members' initiatives that people produce from time to time on a whole variety of issues and so on. That is done by the committee work that we all do around here. Countless committee reports are tabled in the House of Commons. Issues are discussed. Committees increasingly travel throughout the country and listen to Canadians.
You and I, Mr. Speaker, were just recently in the U.K. looking at what its Parliament does, and the same in Scotland. I think everyone who went there came to the conclusion that although the U.K. Parliament does some things better than us, our committee system is by far superior to its committee system. That is much to the credit of members on all sides of the House in terms of the good work they do.
The issue of marijuana legislation is not one that somehow interferes with how ministers are trying to help out with issues, whether it is SARS, the BSE issue in agriculture or anything else. A bill was introduced and put on the Order Paper by the minister. We have not yet debated it, so obviously it has not taken debating time away from anything else. That is the marijuana bill.
In terms of the bill that is before us today, Bill C-24, and the amendment that we are discussing at the present time, it is designed to make this great institution even better. I do not apologize for that. I think it ultimately serves all Canadians better when the legislation that governs how we are elected is better.
I feel that this legislation will improve our system. In 1973-74 there was no legislation on political party financing. Later there were strict laws on spending limits. I will use my case as an example since it is the one I know best. I come from a socio-economic background where it would have been impossible to become a member of parliament a generation ago. Yet, today I have the opportunity to serve my country.
Who would have thought that a busboy at the parliamentary restaurant, who dropped out of high school, would become a member of parliament let alone a minister or Leader of the Government in the House of Commons?
Yet, I had this opportunity. I may have worked hard, I may have been lucky, but for the most part it is the law that allows me to be here because I did not have to be rich to be a candidate. It was not a prerequisite as it is in some democracies, or so-called democracies.
Our neighbours to the South hold some great democratic values for which I congratulate them. But they are still not well endowed when it comes to democratic values. My test of democracy is not, for instance, met by the news that Senator Hillary Clinton spent the equivalent of what is spent by all political parties in Canada for the 301 ridings in this country to get herself elected.
The bill we have before us at this time will help improve this system. Not for me, who has been in one elected position or another for the past 27 years, but for the future generations. I think that I have a reasonable chance of getting the nod from my party for the next election, and maybe even a reasonable chance of getting re-elected, but those who come after me are entitled to a better situation than I have known. They are the ones I hope will benefit from this opportunity, along with the institution in which we all sit.
Now for the clause in question, which we are addressing. Its objective is to clarify the fact that, after the next election, there will of course be a review of the legislation. That is already there, but I have proposed an amendment. Its purpose is to respond to the concerns of the committee, by stating that, next time, this review must address the financial aspect we are adopting at this time, today, tomorrow and in the days to come. We must be sure that, should the formula require adjustment, improvement, additions or deletions, or anything else, the steps required to make such major improvements will be there. The amendment in question is in Group No. 2, which we are discussing, nothing else.
Back to what I was saying before, with all due respect to certain of my colleagues—particularly the previous speaker—I disagree strongly with him when he says this is not a significant bill. I believe it will likely be one of the most important bills this Parliament enacts.
Those who produced the original act in the 1970s have produced a very important piece of legislation, and so is Bill C-2, which was introduced in a previous Parliament to prohibit this kind of control which was impending by third parties, these so-called public interest groups which were influencing the political system by claiming to be running parallel campaigns.
That is when the National Citizen's Coalitions of this world were stopped. There is a case pending before the courts and we will see what comes of it. I will not discuss the details of the case because I do not want to prejudice the outcome, but I think that this is another important bill for democratizing our institutions. Today, we have Bill C-24 before us and we will conclude debate.
I urge my hon. colleagues to support the last step we have to take to complete this debate, that is, take the required votes and then pass the bill in the House. This will ensure that it will become the law of the land for generations to come, so that our institution can be increasingly one which represents all the citizens of our country, men and women, regardless of their ethnic origin or whatever group they belong to, allowing them to at least aspire to get elected. If they are as lucky as I was, they will get elected to represent their fellow citizens in this place.