Mr. Speaker, this is a surprise opportunity to speak on this particular bill. I thought I would take an approach on this bill which is speaking from, if you will, the perspective of a member in this House who has been here for 10 years.
I have gone through four elections. I represent a riding in the east end of Toronto called Scarborough--Guildwood. When I was first elected, it was referenced as Scarborough East. Commenting on raising funds over those four elections, possibly about to be a fifth election, it is getting more and more difficult.
My riding is a riding of extremes. One can buy a $2 million house in the riding. There are some people in the riding who are quite wealthy. It is clearly a very small group of people. There is also quite a substantial segment of the riding where people are comfortably affluent, live in pretty nice houses and have pretty decent jobs.
By far and away, the vast majority of people are hard-working people trying to make ends meet, a population that is really from all over the globe. There is a considerable Tamil population, a considerable Muslim, Indian population, a considerable Pakistani population and a considerable Caribbean population.
Among those folks, plus some of those who are homegrown, these folks are just trying to make rent. That is all they are concerned about. They do not have time to dream about other things, other than just making rent. To propose raising funds among these folks is just nonsense.
Over the course of these past four elections, I have found, increasingly, that whatever fundraising I do, I have to do it outside the riding. Just simply, folks are not prepared to give. That is rather unfortunate. Maybe other members' experience parallels that, and maybe it does not. Some ridings are clearly more affluent than other ridings, and in some ridings it is clearly easier to raise funds. In my particular case, it is not easy to raise funds.
We are in this kind of half-pregnant situation, where we have severely curtailed the ability of members to raise money. Essentially, we have eliminated the ability to raise money from unions, we have eliminated the ability to raise money from corporations, we have limited the amount that we can raise from individuals, and that is, frankly, starting to take its toll.
Now members end up having to look at lending themselves money in order to finance a campaign, whether it is a local riding campaign or whether it is in fact a leadership campaign. That has created some more distortions. Again, it is kind of a half-pregnant solution on another half-pregnant solution.
To wit, we have this bill, a politically motivated bill, no doubt, but nevertheless not really a bill that takes into account the realities of being a member of Parliament and running for office. That is a considerable sacrifice for anyone in this Chamber, whether they are a government member or not. It is a considerable sacrifice to families, it is a considerable sacrifice to individuals, frequently their health, and it is almost inevitably a sacrifice to their personal financial well-being.
Nevertheless, we are here. We volunteer to do this. We are all adults. We all know what we are doing. I do not think the Canadian public should be shedding tears for any one of the 308 of us who choose this life.
Nevertheless, I do reiterate the point that fundraising for members and fundraising for leadership campaigns has become more and more difficult over time and in large part, we have been doing it to ourselves by the limitations that we have imposed upon members. There are arguments where people say, well, this is actually a good thing. This is openness, this is transparency in democracy, and all the rest of the stuff.
I frankly hate fundraising whether it is a big event where we have to get people to give us a cheque or an individual baking sale where we have to sell cookies or silly nonsense like that. I was elected to be a legislator, not a fundraiser.
In the United States this distortion has gone way out of whack. In the past week or so, Hillary Clinton had to lend her own campaign $5 million. In months past, John McCain had to actually take his fundraising list, monetize it and give it to the bank as collateral for a $3 million loan just to keep his campaign alive.
We see enormous amounts of money poured into U.S. campaigns for the presidency, for the senate, for congress. I was talking to one congressman a while back and he has to raise $10,000 a week just to simply be prepared for his two year election cycle.
I would submit, and I hope that all members would agree, that in U.S. politics, money has become so dominant it distorts policy. That needs to be steered away from literally at all costs. In part, America has lost its moral leadership in the world because of the influence of money.
I do not want anybody to be confused that we are in any kind of similar situation in Canada. We have gone in the opposite direction. We are making it more difficult for members and leadership candidates to raise money. Because we are doing that, we are getting into all kinds of distortions, one of which the bill tries to address.
I would dearly love it if frankly Elections Canada would simply pay the campaign costs, to just do it. We end up getting some portion from Elections Canada. That portion gets split with the party in some instances and in some instances it does not. Then we raise certain amounts of money and tax receipts are given.
In some respects that money is also taxpayer subsidized. Any money we are short for the particular campaign, we end up lending ourselves money, generally through a financial institution, then we have to fundraise in order to pay off the loan. The receipts we receive are tax receipted and a portion ends up ultimately getting paid by the taxpayer.
When we add it up and subtract it out, the taxpayers and effectively the government are probably paying about 75% of the cost of a campaign in any event. Why do we not just go the whole route and have campaigns funded by Elections Canada. That way we would get out of the whole conundrum of eternal fundraising and the eternal frustration that this bill frankly represents. It represents frustration for everyone here.
I would almost like to take a poll of the members sitting here who actually say they like fundraising. If they do, they can do mine. They are welcome to it. I had this strange idea that I was elected to be a legislator and not a fundraiser.
People might say that this could get us into all kinds of situations, how much individual candidates receive, et cetera. Certainly, at a riding level, that amount is pre-established by Elections Canada and I frankly do not see why that is a complicated exercise.
Leadership campaigns, I am prepared to say are a more complicated exercise, but I do not really see why we could not do something similar to that.
We will go through this exercise of looking at the bill. I know our party will be supporting the bill if certain amendments are proposed and passed.
Frankly, I see it as a waste of legislative time. We should bite the bullet and have elections funded by the--