This has nothing to do with another chamber that is supposed to represent regions. Whether it does adequately is a debate for another time. We are not talking about that. We are talking about the House of Commons of Canada, not another institution. There is no parallel with that in any other country in the world.
The same applies in Quebec. Does a person in Hull want to be represented by someone from Chicoutimi? To put the point much better, does the person from Chicoutimi want to be represented by someone from Montreal who may have never even seen that community? That is the automatic result of a system like this.
The other issue is when we meet constituents, as we often do. When my constituent, Mr. René Berthiaume, introduces me to a relative or a friend he says “Hi, I want you to meet my MP” and he says my name. Regardless of the quantity, whether it is 20%, 30% or 50% it does not matter. MPs are elected only because they are on a party's list. I do not see the democratic value of that. The hon. member is saying to us that this results in more people participating in the electoral process.
This morning I had in my mail a book published by Queen's University about reforming parliamentary democracy, edited by Leslie Seidle and David C. Docherty. The report talks about the New Zealand example and how Professor Jonathan Boston did his work on that example.
I will quote from the report. It states:
As Boston cautions, it's too early to dissect all the ramifications of New Zealand's experiment with electoral reform. Certainly the power that was once enjoyed by a single party in power (and the front bench of the governing party) has been dispersed.
Therefore the only thing that has been achieved is that there ceases to be a majority government. It goes on to state, “Yet, according to Boston, the surge in public confidence that was hoped for has yet to materialize”.
Therefore it did not result in increased voter participation. It did not even do that which is advocated by the hon. member. It is not the great panacea that it is supposed to be.
There is something else. During an election, whether in my riding, in the member opposite's or my colleague's riding, people send us to Ottawa to represent them for all sorts of reasons. Some might vote for me, Don Boudria. Some might think that I should be their MP; that is possible. Others vote for the Liberal Party.
I do not know why people voted for me. Did they vote for Don Boudria or for the Liberal Party? Some vote for the Liberal platform, while others vote for the Prime Minister. All I know is that when it is all added up, I am here in the House of Commons, as is the member opposite and everyone else here. All the votes for all these reasons are all added up.
In his proposal for proportional representation, the hon. member claims—and that is where he is mistaken, in my view—that all the votes for people who are not elected belong to the political party, that no one wanted to vote for the candidate, the platform or the leader and that all these people voted only for the party, at the expense of all other considerations. There is nothing to prove this.
If this is true, it is an insult to the members in this House. Does this mean that each and every one of us was elected based solely on the political party we represented in our ridings and for no other reason? Not a chance.
That is what we are being told. We are being told that all the residual votes are added to a list proportionate to the number of votes per party, and not proportionate to the popularity of the leaders, candidates or anything other than, of course, the parties. These votes belong, therefore, to the parties.
At this level, our constituents sometimes ask a few of us, “How come enough of you did not vote, independently of your colleagues on this bill or whatever, the way we expected you to?” There are all kinds of reasons why this can happen, such as the party platform or because of being a minister, and so on.
Whatever the case may be, these are the kinds of comments we hear from our constituents. The day we no longer have any constituents, how are we to vote against our party, should we decide to do so? What would automatically happen to us, the next time, on that list? Would we be 194th on the list the next time? This is inevitable.
Then the hon. member said that there are only two or three countries in the world, which he named, with a system similar to ours. This is nonsense.
In fact, France had a system based on proportional representation, and it got rid of it. Why? Because people could no longer relate to the members they had elected. France got rid of this system and now elects members to represent ridings. Yes, it is true that there is perhaps a second ballot. However, members are still elected to represent ridings, and not by proportional representation, in France's national assembly. I go two or three times a year, and I am well aware that France has no such system, although it once did.
Australia was mentioned as an example. Once again, this is not true. In Australia's Parliament, or the House of Representatives as it is officially called, members represent ridings only. There may be two ballots, but that is an entirely different debate; it is not proportional representation. Members represent constituents. They do not represent a territory that is 5,000 km long or anything like that. This is not the case in Australia either.
When the hon. member says that Canada, the U.S. and some other country were the only ones—he said that only two or three had the same system as ours—he was suggesting that the others had a proportional representation system.
That cannot even be said of Australia. We travelled to that country. The House leader for his party, who is sitting barely a metre away from him, was there with me to visit Australia's House of Representatives. Of course, Australian senators each represent a region, a state. They are elected based on the size of their states. But that is another debate. We are talking about the other house.
As for the members of the House of Representatives, they represent an electoral division and nothing else. To claim in this House, as the member did earlier, that it is any other way does not reflect the reality.
Some may say that the debate is worthwhile. The hon. member does have the right to bring any issue before the House for debate so that it can be discussed further. That is legitimate, if he thinks this is something that is viable.
I disagree. I think that the system we have is a good one and that it is worth keeping. We can improve our current system in a variety of ways. For instance, in our country, we have a bill before us—it is before the parliamentary committee; as a matter of fact, the meeting is about to start—to ensure that, in the various electoral districts of this country, the redistribution is effected in as near a future as possible. This way, the right of the people to representation by population will be recognized. We want to expedite the process, to change and improve it so that, as Canadians, as citizens of this country, we are better represented in the House of Commons. We want to make that process better. I even made that suggestion in this House a few days ago. But that is another debate.
If the hon. member wishes to talk about creating a system for the other place, let him go ahead. He said something like this, “Listen, as for the proportional system that exists in several countries, with respect to the upper house, we want to close it and include in this house the supplementary parliamentarians who would be elected by the proportional system”. In fact, what he is suggesting, if I understand the system he is proposing today, is that we have senators sitting in the House of Commons. A few moments ago, he gave a reply along those lines to the hon. member for Mississauga South.
These are some examples showing why I think the system he is proposing is not any better. It is not an improvement for our country. Whatever the outcome, proposing a national referendum on the issue in less than a year, when the debate has barely begun, and no evidence has been presented for his contentions, is clearly premature. In my opinion, we should not even think about going down the road to proportional representation. In any case, work is currently being done on reports that will be published later.
There are all kinds of other reforms that could be undertaken. We have implemented some together. As for improving the democratic process, Bill C-24, which we passed recently, proposed one improvement. That was to reduce dependence on large corporations and large unions and have individuals become more involved in the democratic process. That is one way to modernize Canada's Parliament, and this government did it. I must say that some hon. members opposite also voted in favour of these measures, and I thank them.
Bill C-49 proposes electoral redistribution so that we can benefit from what the commissions told us. That is one way to make improvements, and there are others.
But throwing it all out, to replace it with a proportional or semi-proportional hybrid system, or some other, is really going too fast. In any case, we are certainly not prepared to hold a referendum on this within a year or less.