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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

February 14th, 2008 / 1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 172 and 190.

Question No. 172Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

What funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees has the government issued in the constituency of Sault Ste. Marie from February 6, 2006 up to today for all departments and agencies that have electronic capacity to search for and sort financial information?

Question No. 172Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, government information on funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees issued by departments and agencies is based on parliamentary authorities for departmental or agency programs and activities. This information is listed by department and government organization in the Public Accounts and disclosed on the websites of government organizations. However, government organizations do not generally compile or analyze expenditure information by electoral district.

Over the course of the 39th Parliament, a number of government organizations have undertaken efforts to identify federal expenditures by postal codes which could then be summarized by electoral districts using a tool developed by Statistics Canada. While there is some promise in this approach, there remains a significant potential for error since many postal codes straddle two or more electoral districts. Moreover, the government has significant concerns about the quality of the financial data derived by this approach because there is no way to track the geographic area in which federal funding is actually spent. For these reasons, it is not possible to produce an accurate and comprehensive answer to this question at the present time.

That said, last spring, Statistics Canada initiated a process to enhance the accuracy of the tool that provides the link between postal codes and electoral districts. The process will allow departments which use the tool to better approximate by electoral district data retrieved on a postal code basis. The improved tool has been available since January 30, 2008, and training for government organizations that use this tool is planned for February and March, 2008.

Question No. 190Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

What funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees has the government issued in the constituency of London—Fanshawe from February 6, 2006 up to today for all departments and agencies that have electronic capacity to search for and sort financial information?

Question No. 190Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, government information on funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees issued by departments and agencies is based on parliamentary authorities for departmental or agency programs and activities. This information is listed by department and government organization in the Public Accounts and disclosed on the websites of government organizations. However, government organizations do not generally compile or analyze expenditure information by electoral district.

Over the course of the 39th Parliament, a number of government organizations have undertaken efforts to identify federal expenditures by postal codes which could then be summarized by electoral districts using a tool developed by Statistics Canada. While there is some promise in this approach, there remains a significant potential for error since many postal codes straddle two or more electoral districts. Moreover, the government has significant concerns about the quality of the financial data derived by this approach because there is no way to track the geographic area in which federal funding is actually spent. For these reasons, it is not possible to produce an accurate and comprehensive answer to this question at the present time.

That said, last spring, Statistics Canada initiated a process to enhance the accuracy of the tool that provides the link between postal codes and electoral districts. The process will allow departments which use the tool to better approximate by electoral district data retrieved on a postal code basis. The improved tool has been available since January 30, 2008, and training for government organizations that use this tool is planned for February and March, 2008.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, if Questions No. 65 and 159 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 65Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

With respect to the British Columbia coastline: (a) what, if any, voluntary or mandatory restrictions exist for oil and gas tankers traveling north and south between Alaska and the west coast of the United States; (b) what, if any, voluntary or mandatory restrictions exist for oil and gas tankers traveling east and west, to or from Canadian ports; (c) what is the legal status of the 1972 moratorium on oil and natural gas exploration off the Pacific Coast; (d) what is the official position of the government on the 1972 moratorium on oil and natural gas exploration off the Pacific Coast; (e) what, if any, changes to this policy have occurred since 1972; (f) what is the official position of the government on imposing a formal federal moratorium on the passage of all oil and gas tanker ships in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound; (g) what is the official position of the government on the passage of oil and gas tankers in all directions (north, south, east, and west) from Alaska to points such as East Asia and the west coast of the United States; (h) what, if any, plans does the government have to formalize an overall moratorium of oil and natural gas exploration off the British Columbia coast; (i) what is the government’s plan to deal with oil spills or tankers in distress off the coast of British Columbia; (j) what, if any, studies have been done to determine the risk and potential damage to the waters and coast of British Columbia in case of an accident or spill; and (k) what plans, if any, does the government have to increase Canada’s oil and gas exports, and what impacts on the British Columbia coastline and its waters does the government anticipate as a result of those plans?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 159Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

With regard to National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries: (a) what was the total government expenditure, tallied for all government departments including all costs associated with all Advisory Group and Steering Committee meetings, the four Roundtable sessions, additional government staffing requirements, support for civil society and industry participation in the process, facilitation and research; (b) when will the government publicly respond to the Advisory Group report of March 29, 2007; (c) was there any correspondence between the various ministers involved in the Roundtables and private sector companies in the oil and gas or mining sectors and, if so, between which ministers and when; and (d) did private meetings occur between the various ministers involved in the Roundtables and private sector companies in the oil and gas or mining sectors and, if so, with whom and when?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is rising on a point of order.

Government Business No. 4Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the point of order made by the member for Vancouver East concerning the government motion on Afghanistan. That motion was presented to this House a few days ago.

I would like to argue that this motion is entirely in order, as the member has taken a narrow reading of the procedural authorities. I will also point out that there are many precedents to support my view.

The basic rule concerning the form of motions can be found at page 449 of Marleau and Montpetit, where it is stated:

A motion must be drafted in such a way that, should it be adopted by the House, “it may at once become the resolution...or order which it purports to be”.

In my view, the motion has been drafted in such a way that, if adopted, it would become a resolution expressing the opinion of the House on Canada's commitment in Afghanistan. I therefore submit that the motion is in order.

Let me now turn to some of the member's specific points. The member referred to citation 565 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne's, which states:

A motion should be neither argumentative, nor in the style of a speech, nor contain unnecessary provisions or objectionable words.

I reject the member's statement that the motion, in her words, is “more like a speech disguised as a motion”. Instead, I argue, the motion has been drafted to take the form of a resolution of the House. It simply is not in the style of a speech.

I would also point out that it is not clear what Beauchesne's means by stating that motions should not be “argumentative”, as Beauchesne's does not cite any references to support this.

Since a motion is, by definition, a proposed opinion of the House, there will always be some level of disagreement over the contents of a motion. That is why the House debates motions and divisions are taken, as there is usually more than one opinion on any given matter before the House.

The member also cites page 449 of Marleau and Montpetit, which states:

Examples may be found of motions with preambles, but this is considered out of keeping with usual practice.

That statement in Marleau and Montpetit is taken from page 317 of the fourth edition of Bourinot; however, Bourinot explains that this is derived from a rule of the Senate. At pages 316 and 317, Bourinot states:

By the 27th rule of the Senate it is provided that “no motion prefaced by a preamble is received by the Senate”; and this rule is always strictly observed in that house.

To contrast that, I would note that no such rule exists in this House. While Bourinot states that preambles may be “inconvenient”, he also recognizes that there are precedents for preambles, as do Marleau and Montpetit.

As Bourinot and Marleau and Montpetit point out, there are precedents for the inclusion of preambles in motions. I will not take up the time of the House by listing all of the examples of motions with preambles. Instead, I would refer the Speaker to the opposition motion from the member for Toronto—Danforth, debated on April 26, 2007, which stated:

Whereas,

(1) all Members of this House, whatever their disagreements about the mission in Afghanistan, support the courageous men and women of the Canadian Forces;

(2) the government has admitted that the situation in Afghanistan cannot be won militarily;

(3) the current counter-insurgency mission is not the right mission for Canada;

(4) the government has neither defined what 'victory' would be, nor developed an exit strategy from this counter-insurgency mission;

therefore this House condemns this government and calls for it to immediately notify NATO of our intention to begin withdrawing Canadian Forces now in a safe and secure manner from the counter-insurgency mission in Afghanistan, and calls for Canada to focus its efforts to assist the people of Afghanistan on a diplomatic solution, and redouble its commitment to reconstruction and development.

This motion by the leader of the New Democratic Party is exactly on point, but contradicts the point of order presented by the House leader of the New Democratic Party.

I would also point out that motions do not need the word “whereas” to include a preamble. It is common for many motions to include statements prior to the main point of the motion using such words as “given that”.

The final point the member makes is that “it contains two conditions that...are clearly outside of the control of the House and upon which support for the extension of the motion is predicated”. This argument might be relevant if the motion took the form of a House order that had a binding effect, such as changes to the Standing Orders.

However, the motion takes the form of a resolution expressing the opinion of the House. In my view, there is nothing irregular about the House expressing its support for a government action, where that support is contingent on certain conditions being met.

To conclude, I believe this is entirely a matter for debate and not a point of order.

Members may disagree with the text of the motion. That is why they can propose amendments to the motion. They can also vote against the motion if they so wish.

But in the end, the text of the motion is a matter for the House to decide. It should not be set aside on narrow procedural grounds.

Government Business No. 4Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his comments. The Chair will certainly take them under advisement.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans), as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-29.

Under the wavering light of this corner of the House, I hope my comments are clear and constant in suggesting that the bill, as it came through committee, was the proper bill. What the government is trying to do now is ignore the good democratic conditions and precedents of good committee work.

The bill in review aims to establish a system of improved accountability. It certainly did that as it came out of committee. Its key elements include creating a uniform and transparent reporting regime for all loans to political entities, including mandatory disclosure of terms and the identity of all lenders and loan guarantors.

That much makes a lot of sense. It would also ensure that total loans, loan guarantees and contributions by individuals could not exceed the annual contribution limit for individuals established in the Canada Elections Act.

It would also allow only financial institutions and political entities the capacity to make loans beyond the annual contribution limit for individuals and only at commercial or market rates of interest.

Tightening the rules for the treatment of unpaid loans to ensure candidates cannot walk away from unpaid loans was also an aim of this bill as it came back from committee. It would ultimately, as in its original sense, hold riding associations responsible for unpaid loans taken out by candidates. This is one of the cruxes of the problem, and I will get to the democratic deficit and the lack of participation that we have by good candidates in the electoral process if the government's designs are to be carried through.

The bill, by way of history, was first presented to the House during the first session of this Parliament as Bill C-54 and reintroduced in November of the past year with essentially the same content as Bill C-54.

The bill was very seriously examined during meetings of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The members worked very hard and came to agree upon different elements. There was a great deal, I say in a spirit of non-partisanship, of unanimity with respect to some of the time limit terms and some of the technical aspects. It was thought, certainly by opposition members, that there was a good deal of consensus and agreement on a few other outstanding matters that were embodied in amendments to the bill.

On this side we thought the bill as amended, as it comes back from committee, is something that we, in the great traditions of the Liberal Party, in the great traditions of democratic reform and keeping the balance that allows people to participate in the democratic process, could support.

At those committee meetings, improvements were made, not the least of which, as a significant improvement, was now to have unpaid amounts of a loan to be considered contributions after three years from the date the loan was made. The original proposal was 18 months.

Now the government House leader, the minister responsible for undemocratic reform, is presenting motions that will completely disregard the other amendments that were passed at committee.

Government Motion No. 1 would delete the Liberal amendment to allow for annual contributions to a leadership candidate. Under this amendment, for example, person A would be allowed to donate $1,000, or $1,100 as the case may be, to leadership candidate B in each calendar year until leadership candidate B paid his or her campaign debt and formally and finally closed his or her leadership campaign.

Government Motion No. 2 would make it necessary for loans to be repaid annually rather than at the point when the loan becomes due. This effectively would prevent candidates from taking extended repayment loans. It acts as a foreclosure on the normal commercial manner in which loans are undertaken and paid back. It says that the way the market works with respect to loaning a person money to fund a campaign shall not be respected. It makes no sense to set up an artificial limit on repayment when the market will deal with that issue.

After all, the movement is from a loan from a friend to a loan from a commercial lender at a commercial rate. I do not know if there was enough evidence from the banking community on this but it would seem to me that the banks are not in the business of giving loans that are high risk. They are not in the business of giving loans to people who cannot repay them.

Why is it that Parliament shall say to the bankers of this country that they do not know how to underwrite risk and that Parliament will make it shorter in duration for the banks and different than the market conditions. It is clearly against the forces of the market, which I thought the party on the other side favoured, and it is clearly undemocratic because it will put a chill on candidates presenting themselves for election.

Considering the fact that elections are not something that somebody can plan for, I think we are living that right now, but often, in the normal course of events, we can plan when we want to buy a house, a car, start a family or put our kids through college, as the case may be. Those are events we can plan and save for and, from time to time, we can make loans from commercial lenders at commercial rates. However, it is very difficult for someone who is not in the House right now and who wants to stand as a candidate to predict when he or she may need to get a loan for a campaign or, as the case may be, a leadership race.

Because the election may be called at any time, January, April or October, it is unreasonable for someone to be asked to pay off a loan before the time limit established by the loan contract itself. We on this side stand for the principles of the market. The free market shall dictate when a loan is given and how it is prepaid. Why is the government interloping and saying to the free market, the lenders in this country, that the government knows best?

Here we see the Conservative government is pushing hard on its perception and not its reality of accountability.

The Accountability Act, Bill C-2, which was presented and passed, was really the window dressing for the government's new regime and for its patina, if one likes, of sincerity. I say patina because it is a very thin layer that can be pierced very easily and beneath the patina we can see the substance. Without proper regulations backing up Bill C-2, the Accountability Act, it is a very hollow instrument. It does not have any of the reality backing up the rhetoric with which it was introduced.

It would be an absolute hindrance, in terms of accountability, for us to say that these government amendments help the democratic process. It would be an absolute hindrance for anyone presenting themselves to have to focus on repaying the loan by the end of the fiscal year if that is not the date that was agreed upon by the lender.

Moving to government Motion No. 3, it would delete the Bloc Québécois amendment that would remove liability from registered political parties for loans taken out by candidates.

We can imagine that we are 308 members in the House, not all filled at the time, but all of us have different constituencies and all of us have been successful in getting here, some by a wide margin and some by a very large margin.

If one is contesting a riding that one does not hold, the spectre of the political association being responsible for one's debt, if one is unsuccessful, is again very undemocratic because it would pit the association against the candidate. In a riding where it is impossible to win, or does not look very likely that one could win, we can see very clearly that the bill and the government Motion No. 3 puts a chill on democratic involvement and is in fact very undemocratic. One would wonder why it is included.

Why would the Conservative government, which does not hold all the seats in Parliament and, in fact, will never hold many of the seats in Parliament, wants to put a chill on its own candidates in pitting their Conservative associations against their candidates? One wonders why because it does not do anything to help the participation of new candidates in ridings.

In short, we are not in support of these amendments that the government has reintroduced at report stage. We think t the committee worked very well and that its wishes and its motions should be respected.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to this bill.

I listened to my colleague with interest. I am myself a little surprised by the position of the government, which just reversed an amendment passed in committee to the effect that when someone makes a contribution to a leadership campaign, now, a total of $1,000 is allowed for all the candidates of a party leadership race. The amendment adds “during any calendar year”. It seemed reasonable to us for this amendment, put forward by the Liberals and passed in committee, to be accepted.

It is somewhat difficult to understand why the government insists on returning to the initial proposal in this case and, even more so, on Motion No. 3. I have a very hard time understanding how a government, a political party, can propose something that allows the members of a political party to shirk their responsibilities.

How can a government propose that a candidate be allowed to spend or borrow as much as he likes from a bank and that, afterwards, the political party should be responsible for the candidate? The member talked about this in his speech and I would like him to explain his position on this. Indeed, on both of these motions, I think it is very important that this House go back to what was passed in committee, which would seem wiser to me, democratically speaking.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup for the warm welcome he gave me this summer in Grosse-Île, Quebec.

In response to his question, I can tell him that on this side of the House, we respect the committee's work. We believe that the committees work long and hard on the issues that are before them.

The key issue that the Bloc and the Liberal Party agree on is Motion No. 3. It does not make a lot of sense to make the local association responsible for a candidate's debts. The Bloc and the Liberals agree on this. Why are all the parties not in agreement on this? It makes far more sense for the association and the candidate to have separate obligations.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not need to tell you how pleased I am to be taking part in the debate on Bill C-29.

When you are a member of Parliament, there is not much that is more important than the quality of democratic life.

The members of the Bloc Québécois, who are all Quebeckers, because we field candidates only in Quebec, are obviously thinking of the legacy of René Lévesque. I am certain that the mention of his name is extremely inspiring to all the members, because René Lévesque made a huge contribution to cleaning up election practices by putting an end to secret funding. The older among us, including my colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, will remember that the 1976 Parti Québécois leadership campaign centred around this issue. There was one slogan that went: “For a clean, clean, clean fund”.

Today, it seems funny to refer to that time, because practices in Quebec have changed so much, in a non-partisan way. No one in the National Assembly of Quebec would want to go back to a system where corporations and individuals could make unreported contributions.

Still, the idea of establishing limits is quite new in our federal legislation. There has been a federal Elections Act for a very long time, but it did not have any control over contributions until the final years of the Chrétien government. We have to acknowledge in a non-partisan way that that was an interesting way to ensure democracy.

One might ask why, in a democracy, we have to know the rules of the game and limit contributions to a political party to $1,100 per individual, for example. This needs to be done because we would not want to live in a democracy where members of Parliament become spokespersons for lobby groups, as in the United States. I remember meeting a U.S. senator. It takes millions and millions of dollars to get elected in the United States. Because candidates receive contributions, they are required to become declared lobbyists for a specific lobby group.

The beauty of our electoral system, which is not perfect and could use some amendments, is that someone like me, the son of a labourer with no personal wealth, got elected last time by spending $25,000. For the most part, my contributions came from public fundraising. We can get elected without having any ties whatsoever to lobby groups. I am not saying that those groups cannot make contributions to have their point of view represented. However, it is possible to get elected in a political system without any ties to lobby groups. That is the best guarantee the public has. When we rise in the House to take a position on an issue, we do so without any ulterior motive and only with the interests of our constituents in mind. The more responsibility we have and the closer we get to the top, the more important it is for these examples of integrity to be absolutely respected.

That is why the Bloc Québécois has repeatedly called on the present Prime Minister to disclose all the sources of funding for his Canadian Alliance leadership campaign in 2002. This would be a sign of democratic respect that we recognize and that demonstrates transparency. As the Gomery report put it, we believe it would be a sign of democracy, transparency and sound responsibility to know who financed the present Prime Minister in his leadership bid in 2002.

The bill that is before us, and that the Bloc Québécois supports, is a bill that goes farther still.

Jean Chrétien introduced one bill, and after that there was Bill C-2 which went a little farther. I would note, as an aside, that it was a source of some disappointment. We would have hoped that the Access to Information Act would be modernized. After all, we have been talking about that for two decades.

We are well aware that journalists, and some members of the public, are concerned about the way this government is restricting the dissemination of information. We are well aware that people expect the Access to Information Act to be modernized. The Liberals did not do it and the Conservatives are dragging their feet on it, but it would be a good thing if this were done very quickly.

Even though the Access to Information Act has not been modernized, Bill C-2 still put transparency mechanisms in place that the Bloc Québécois supported at the time. I am thinking, for example, of whistleblowing in the public service and the budget oversight mechanisms under the responsibility of the Library of Parliament. So it seemed to us to be moving in the right direction.

Today we are going farther. We are calling for an end to a practice that can also generate controversy, that can also be ambiguous and that can also be questionable in terms of transparency. We want to prevent party leaders and people who have responsibilities and who want to be elected in political parties from being able to circumvent the rules and get access to funding beyond what is permitted or otherwise than through public funding, by accepting personal loans.

Today's bill will, first, limit the personal loans that can be taken out to the extremely precise figure of $1,100, the same as for personal contributions. Obviously there is a disclosure mechanism and mandatory registration. More importantly, repayment will be monitored. If I understand correctly, if a personal loan taken out by an elected member is not repaid within 18 months, it will have to be considered to be a contribution to the party, and an entire process will be set in motion.

It seems that the government has begun by imitating what was done in Quebec, finally putting an end to funding by corporations, unions and businesses, and accepting contributions from individuals only. The cap has been set at $1,100 to minimize the potential for influence peddling. Today, we are going even further by ensuring that personal loans—access to funding—will not be possible.

I hasten to add that this mechanism is a good one for purposes of transparency. It is good because it will allow us to become elected representatives who owe nothing to lobby groups. But this reform would not have been viable without public funding for political parties. Democracy does indeed have a price.

If we want people to get involved in public life, we have to talk about balancing work and family. Some members of my party have studied this issue. We want women to hold public office, but we know that they do not have equal opportunity. Even though there have been significant changes, women often have responsibilities that men have not fully taken on. Truly equal opportunity demands public funding so that political parties can benefit from a kind of war chest provided by public coffers as a starting point.

We are always on the lookout for improvements and concerned about cleaning up electoral practices. I think that the bill before us would contribute to that goal.

Mr. Speaker, given the frank camaraderie that has characterized our work over the past few days, and given that I have worked so hard on my speech, would you be so kind as to find out whether there is consent for me to go on for another 10 minutes?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent for the hon. member for Hochelaga to continue his speech for another 10 minutes?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.