Mr. Speaker, we have heard various speakers this morning say that there is broad support for the principles behind the legislation but then they seem to drift off into tangents of quite partisan attacks on the motivation of the government, et cetera.
However I think there is broad support, not only from parties in the House but from Canadians generally. When I discussed the issue in my riding, it received broad support. Canadians are concerned with the appearance of influence that is obtained when larger corporations make larger donations to political parties. They are concerned when the labour movement makes contributions to political parties and the influence that could have.
In my riding I see broad support for the principles. Sometimes the devils are in the details, which is what we are in the process of discussing and debating. I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the committee, ably chaired by the member for Peterborough, for the work it did in reviewing the bill and coming up with some of the amendments that are before the House at the present time.
The important part to bear in mind is that we need to come up with legislation that is true to the principles and the intent, and that is to have greater transparency and greater openness so Canadians can feel that our electoral system is indeed free and independent. That it is somewhat taxpayer subsidized now cannot be denied. Currently, when corporations make their contributions to political parties they do obtain quite significant tax credits or tax deductions, so there is a considerable amount of taxpayer money being invested in our system now.
We are trying to avoid a system similar to other countries where it takes tremendous amounts of money to become elected. It takes it outside the ability of many ordinary citizens to become elected to the houses of representation in their respective countries. A very strong plus for our electoral system is that we currently have spending limits and that the legislation will be an improvement on that system.
We have heard comments here this morning to the effect that it is a denial of democracy. Some of the amendments or provisions are for taxpayer funds to be reimbursed directly to political parties dependent upon the result of elections. There is nothing that prevents individual Canadians from making direct contributions. They would still receive tax credits for the contributions to the parties of their choice. We are not making an exclusive change that would prohibit that.
I think some of the comments may have been a little bit overstated to the effect that we will be denying democracy here by putting in changes that will provide for taxpayer funds to be reimbursed directly to parties, because that is done indirectly now through the tax credits. Also, we currently have rebates to individual campaigns. I believe Motions Nos. 8 and 9, combined, would have the effect of increasing that from a 50% rebate to a 60% rebate for individual campaigns.
One has to bear that in mind. It is a very onerous task, that each individual candidate for election to the House of Commons continually, term after term, has to go through a process of amassing enough funds in his or her individual riding association coffers to finance those campaigns. This is an amendment, the effect of which will be to increase that rebate by 10%. I am sorry if I missed the point but that does not appear to be an attack on democracy from my perspective. It is just something that will assist all campaigns to amass the funds they require prepare for the next election.
We were talking about the amendments in Group No. 1. They are all reasonable amendments that could be supported by members of the House.
Motion No. 4 is an increase for the quarterly allowance from $1.50 per vote to $1.75. Again, I do not think there is anything contained in the amendment that would warrant some of the very strong language that we have heard in this debate.
Motions Nos. 13 and 14 are temporary. They are transitional provisions that will be necessary because we will be switching from one system to another. It will require a cultural change provided the legislation comes into effect somewhat in the present state it is in now. There will need to be a transitional period where all parties will need time to adjust to the new culture. Those two provisions are self-explanatory and certainly warrant it.
With that I will conclude and suggest that these are amendments that warrant the support of the House.