Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Toronto Centre for a very informative speech. It is the kind of speech I myself would have given if I were looking forward to contesting a leadership race in the next year or so and was going to rely upon a large amount of donated cash.
I want to talk about a couple of things. One is the idea that Jean Chrétien was being fair and thoughtful when he put forward this finance legislation. We should be clear about what was going on. The legislation that was put forward would have gone into effect, although the Chief Electoral Officer had some discretion on it, on December 31, 2003. Any race that might be underway could be declared to go before or after. The Chief Electoral Officer chose to cause the old financing rules with unlimited donations and unlimited spending to apply.
That was not done out of fairness. That was done to ensure the member for Newmarket—Aurora, who at that point was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, would have a huge advantage over the current Prime Minister in that leadership race. It was a complete abuse of process and no one should misunderstand what was going on on that occasion.
With regard to the fairness of the underlying system, there was nothing fair about the process that Jean Chrétien proposed of providing public financing on a sliding scale based on how many votes one got in the previous election, thereby locking in the advantage of the governing party; $1.75 per year to each party per vote it received in the previous election. Regardless of how voters might feel in the future, there is nothing fair about that. It locks in an incumbent's advantage. The longer the next Parliament lasts, the bigger the advantage adds up to be and the larger the number of votes a party has the bigger the advantage.
What was fair about that as compared to what Ed Broadbent proposed where one would have the ability to indicate where one's particular subsidy would go based upon one's ongoing preferences? That was a much fairer suggestion which was shot down by the Liberals at that time.
Similarly, the rebate of 60% of expenses to candidates, rewards those who are able to spend more. What is fair about that? What about this does not have the effect of benefiting those who have the most to spend and the most ability to borrow?