Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on debate in report stage of Bill C-24 to discuss the amendments in Group No. 1.
I want to deal with some of the amendments themselves. For instance, Motion No. 4 amends paragraph 435.1(2) to, first, increase the bases for the allowance from $1.50 to $1.75 and second, to allow for the indexation of the allocation.
The idea of this is the amendments would ultimately ensure that the changes to the political financing rules brought by Bill C-24 would not result in revenue losses for any of the parties. It was discovered, during the committee stage discussion, that the intention of the government was the bill be revenue neutral. It became clear that it was not quite revenue neutral, so this change was made to ensure it was. Also having indexation will ensure that it remains so for the future.
These proposed adjustments result from revisions made to the estimate of losses to parties that would result from the new restrictions of contributions by individuals, corporations and unions. That is the idea behind those amounts.
Regarding Motions Nos. 8 and 9, they amend subsections 464(3) and 465(3) of the Canada Elections Act to increase from 50% to 60% the percentage of election expenses for candidates that will be reimbursed.
The reason is that this premature change to reduce the financial impact felt by candidates would result in new restrictions on contributions by individuals, corporations and unions.
Concerning Motion No. 13, which deals with the early payment of quarterly allowances for 2004, the motion would add a transitory provision to provide that the quarterly allowance to parties for 2004 would exceptionally be paid in a single instalment at the beginning of the year when the act came into force.
The idea here is there is a need for transition because we have a new bill and a new procedure coming in. It was felt this would help with that transition for the political parties. It would also provide the possibility of subsequent adjustments to the allowance during that year, if there were to be an election in 2004, resulting in a change to the amount that a party is normally entitled to receive.
For example, in the case of an increased allowance following an election in 2004, additional instalments to the party would be made on a quarterly basis. On the other hand of course, in the case of where a party received an amount at the beginning of the year that was greater than that to which it would be entitled based upon the results of the votes from that election, let us say it was next year, any amount paid in excess of what it would be entitled to would have to be paid back to the coffers of the government.
For 2005 and subsequent years, the allowance would be paid on a quarterly basis, as provided for in the bill originally. Again, this is a transition measure to help the parties adjust to the new procedure.
Motion No. 14 would allow for reimbursements for election expenses for parties incurred in the first general election following the coming into force of the act to be set at 60% instead of 50%, as a one-time exception.
Subsequently, parties would receive a 50% reimbursement for election expenses, as set out in the bill. Once again, this is a transitional measure to help parties adjust to the new system.
Those are the positions of the government on the various motions, and I look forward to hearing the views of other members of the House.