Mr. Speaker, I can understand that there is a lot of commotion in here tonight about the Saskatchewan Roughriders winning the Grey Cup. I rise to my feet amidst all that glorious celebration of Canada's oldest professional sport championship and offer salutations to both sides.
I rise to ask a question in the realm of democratic reform. I was fortunate enough to ask a question of the government. However, I was not fortunate enough to really receive an answer.
My question involved questions regarding Mr. Michael Donison and his imprimatur.
I should go back a little. He was one of the star witnesses for the Conservative government when it brought in its new accountability act, the most comprehensive, et cetera, as I have heard the member for Nepean—Carleton go on about the title. In fact, Mr. Donison was a witness at the Bill C-2 hearings who said that the convention fee expenses were totally legal and totally within the confines of the Elections Act.
However, it turns out that over the summer the Conservative Party defied, I guess, the evidence of Mr. Donison and treated convention fees as contributions, as all parties had, and did a sort of volte-face on their original position.
My question, thoroughly put to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, is this: will we see the same turnaround with respect to the colouring of the in and out expense aspect done on most Conservative campaigns and totalling some $2 million? Will we see a change in the position in this very important matter? Was it really necessary for the Conservative Party to sue Elections Canada and to put the taxpayers to the expense of defending Elections Canada when it is very clear that Elections Canada did not allow these expenses in the first place?
Much has been made in court filings about other advertising undertaken by other members across the country, but I hasten to add that Elections Canada has not thrown out any other expense accounts except the numerous expense accounts put in by candidates, successful or not, in the Conservative Party who have participated in the in and out affair.
Local candidates had claimed, many of them in defiance of their party leaders, that it was national advertising. In fact, it was. Much of the advertising that took place, and this is according to Mr. Donison, who is now sort of in the embrace of government and who said it would be no real news to a local campaign: it would be “a transfer in and back out, same day...as agreed”. He said that there would be “no net cost”. It is very close in scheme to money laundering.
I want to know, if everything was done by the letter of the law, why did Elections Canada reject not one not two but a myriad of claims? Also, why was it necessary for the Conservative Party to take the Elections Canada decision to court and not accept Elections Canada findings, as all of us as candidates have? Why are the Conservatives putting the taxpayers to the expense of defending Elections Canada?