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House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.

Topics

Rebranding of Government of Canada's NamePoints of Order

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member can avoid doing that by referring to the Prime Minister's government or whatever. He does not need to use the name and I would urge him not to.

Rebranding of Government of Canada's NamePoints of Order

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, your standing to give me that ruling makes my point. The Prime Minister is branding the Government of Canada as something other than the Government of Canada. I, nor my colleagues, nor even government members can stand in the House and quote directly from a release by a government department. This is wrong.

The Government of Canada is not an entity of one man. I would ask you to take these comments, Mr. Speaker, and your ruling in all seriousness in terms of the point of order raised by the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.

Rebranding of Government of Canada's NamePoints of Order

3:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I can understand my friend's frustration when he has not been given the full information by his own researchers.

First, as we have already said, it is common practice across governments that we would see the name of a leader of a party referenced from time to time. It happens many times. This was approved by the former clerk of the Privy Council working under the Liberal government. It was also approved by the president of the Privy Council.

If he is looking for a quote, there are lots of them. I have one here in an actual release about the 2004 budget. It says, “Paul Martin government announces...”. Right after that it says, “Budget 2004, announced today by the Paul Martin government...”. In the next sentence it says, “Budget 2004, announced today by the Paul Martin government...”. That is three times in two sentences. Even we have not been that aggressive.

Rebranding of Government of Canada's NamePoints of Order

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would point out to hon. members that when they are reading quotations from newspapers, magazines or any other source, if a member's name occurs in it they cannot use it. This has been standard practice in the House for years and years.

While I can sympathize with the hon. member for Malpeque wanting to read these government press releases word for word into the record, he will have to restrain himself a bit by using some other word, as members have been doing for the last few days. We all have to do it when we are reading other materials. However much he may regret the government's decision to make this change, which seems to be more, if I can take it this way, the point he is making, it does not alter the rules of the House in respect of the way we conduct ourselves in here in debate.

Therefore, as tempted as he may be to read the thing verbatim, I am sure he will find that, as he does currently with other material that references other hon. members by name, he will refrain from doing so and sound very eloquent, nonetheless, despite the lack of reading it verbatim.

Rebranding of Government of Canada's NamePoints of Order

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would say with great fear and trepidation and nothing but the hugest of respect for you, your office and all of your rulings, I was not sure, and Hansard may show, if you were reflecting that there was a change in practice. Of course, our position is that this is a continuation of an existing practice. I respect the verbiage that you chose and I am just pointing out that one element of debate.

Rebranding of Government of Canada's NamePoints of Order

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I do not know whether there has been a change in practice or not. I make no ruling in respect of that. I was simply urging the hon. member to not change the practice of the House and refrain from using hon. members' names. That is the point I was trying to make.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Before question period, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel had the floor. He has seven minutes remaining to make his remarks.

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with our excellent hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

Before question period, I was talking about the motion moved by the Liberals. I will reread part of it:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Conservative Party of Canada’s “in and out” electoral financing scheme was an act of electoral fraud and represents an assault on the democratic principles upon which Parliament and our electoral system are based...

This is important. During question period, we heard all sorts of claims coming out of the mouth of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. For weeks now he has been claiming that the Conservative Party provided the Chief Electoral Officer with all the documents. That is not true and he knows it. The RCMP had to search the offices of the Conservative Party to obtain the information, and that is serious. It is clear, under the law, that the national party has the right to spend a certain amount of money. In 2006, it was $18 million. What is more, the ridings had the right to spend a certain amount of money per riding. The total for all the ridings is roughly the same amount, $18 million.

However, expenses are different. I am the chief organizer for the Bloc Québécois. The party is entitled to its expenses at the national level. Usually, ads represent the biggest part of the expenses to which we are entitled and in which we invest during an election campaign. In Quebec, for the next election, it will be roughly $6 million nationally. The party will have a budget and will spend a certain amount of money for its national ads. The ridings have their own budgets and are entitled to local advertising.

In the 2005-06 election, the Conservative Party was moving up in the polls. That is how the Conservatives have always governed. They were experiencing some popularity and the money started to come in. The ridings did not have their own fundraising campaigns and were having a lot of trouble raising money. I should point out that a right-wing party was not very popular, at least not in Quebec. I cannot speak for the rest of Canada, but in Quebec, it was not. The party had reached its $18 million limit at the national level. It saw the potential for a majority and needed to spend money on national advertisements. Since money was pouring in, it sent money to local ridings and asked them to spend that money on national advertisements, which is in violation of the act. That is why only Conservative Party offices were searched by the RCMP and Elections Canada. In fact, when the returns came in, Elections Canada realized that the expenses were not for local advertisements. In my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, there are 13 local weekly newspapers. With my budget, I purchase advertisements in the weekly newspapers. That is not national advertising. The national Bloc Québécois party, for which I am the chief organizer, pays for national advertisements on television and radios and in the major national media, but each riding is responsible for local advertising.

It is not surprising for this to happen when a political party does not have enough money for advertising, and the Conservatives know that. It is always about the money, and advertising is the biggest expense a party makes to try and sway the public, which is often very lazy and does not follow election campaigns, aside from catching a few one-minute clips on The National or another national news program. The way to sway the public is to blanket the radio and television airwaves with advertisements showing the party leader, while in the ridings, the focus is on showing the candidates.

Elections Canada very clearly understood the scheme. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and I have informed the Conservative members opposite that they are going to lose their appeal before the Supreme Court. A party should not be able to influence the outcome of a national campaign by sending money to ridings so that they can send it right back to the national party to cover the cost of national advertising. This will have to be monitored in future. The Conservatives are not raising any more money than before at the local level. They are collecting it at the national level, particularly in Quebec.

What was done differently in 2006 and what will happen during the next election campaign? They have had time to send money before the election. If I look at the list of Conservative Party donors in Quebec ridings, I see that often those donors do not live in the ridings to which they are contributing. That is legal. However, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and representatives of the Chief Electoral Officer are analyzing this practice and trying to abolish it. In theory, a riding that wants to run a local election campaign with its local candidate must be able to raise the money to do so on its own.

The current act allows money to be sent to the ridings before the election campaign. This practice must be reviewed. However, there is one other thing that is not legal under the act during an election campaign. When the Conservatives reached their $18 million spending limit, they noticed that some ridings had not raised any money and were broke. They told those ridings that they would send them money, not for local advertising, but for national advertising. The Conservatives needed national advertising to win a majority. This is what the Chief Electoral Officer condemned, and he was completely right. There is a reason Elections Canada won its appeal and will win—

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. The hon. member for Mississauga South for questions and comments.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to break down the transaction to see whether the hon. member concurs. This is quite simple. It says that the Conservative Party transferred $1.2 million to 67 candidates. It was then immediately transferred back to the party. That alone has no impact on any expenses or any rebates. It is just a transfer of cash.

However, the Conservative Party had overspent its national media by $1.2 million so it made up phoney invoices for riding associations and passed those invoices down to these ridings. The ridings then claimed the election rebate on the $1.2 million of phoney invoices and got $800,000 from the taxpayers of Canada.

What we have is the national government overspending its national campaign by $1.2 million and candidates getting $800,000 that they were not entitled to.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. It gets even worse. The goal of the Conservatives was not to receive the rebate. They had no choice but to receive it. When the riding has an expense, it gets a 60% rebate. Let us ask the Conservatives whether they were interested in receiving the money. They were not interested because they had too much. That is what is wrong with the Conservatives: they have too much money, and that is dangerous for democracy.

The problem is that they are trying to manipulate the law. The Conservatives are saying that they gladly repaid that money and that they did not want it. What they wanted was to exceed the national ceiling allowed under the law. The spending limit under the law was $18 million. Their spending reached $19 million, which they invested in advertising to win an election. That is not allowed. They lost in the court of appeal and they will lose in the Supreme Court.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. In 2003, a court handed down a ruling against a certain Jean-Paul Marchand, a Bloc Québécois candidate. He lost the election, and here is what the judge had to say in the November 21, 2003 ruling:

Mr. Marchand concluded that the real purpose of this personal commitment was to fund the Bloc Québécois with public money and not to reimburse election expenses, as provided for by the Act.

Mr. Marchand had filed legitimate expenses. The Bloc demanded that he spend more and then took him to court because he had not claimed enough expenses. Elections Canada did nothing. Can the Bloc member, who is also his party's organizer, tell us why the judge said this?

In this case, the reason why the candidate made a personal commitment to the Bloc Québécois “to fund the shortfall” was possibly for financing purposes.

Can he tell us why Elections Canada—

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, the Conservative member knows full well that the legislation has been amended since that incident occurred. Once again, I understand that they are trying to muddy the waters with a bunch of examples from 2003 and 2004, but the current issue with the in and out scheme is that the Conservatives used the money for national ads, which are a key part of any election campaign. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister did not say a single thing about that. This is what they do: they say they have enough money.If worst comes to worst, they do not even want reimbursement.

The problem is that they want to spend more than the law allows. And that amounts to buying an election campaign. That is not permitted. They lost the appeal. And they will lose at the Supreme Court. They still do not understand that democracy cannot be bought. It is not permitted in Quebec—where we pay the bill for about a quarter of the federal government's expenditures—or in the rest of Canada.

Perhaps if they win a majority, they can amend the Canada Elections Act and will thus be in control forever and be a dictatorship financed by dirty money.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 8th, 2011 / 3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Madam Speaker, today, the Liberal members are proposing debate on a motion that I believe, as I am sure you do, deals with a fundamental issue, namely, respect for the democratic rules that govern our society. It is even more important to ensure respect for these rules given the election rumours that are going around and that seem to be growing every day as March 22, the date for the tabling of the next Conservative budget, approaches.

The Bloc Québécois supports the Liberal motion before the House today and believes it is of the utmost importance that the Conservatives pay back the money they spent illegally during the 2005-06 election campaign. The Bloc Québécois believes that, not only must they repay the money they stole from the citizens of this country, but they must also, as quickly as possible, remove all individuals facing charges for this violation of the Canada Elections Act from any position of responsibility within government or the Conservative Party of Canada. In addition, these individuals must not be allowed to participate in future elections.

Year after year, as we have seen scandals of all kinds since the Conservatives came to power in Ottawa in January 2006, we have no choice but to recognize that the Conservative Party simply cannot and will not abide by democratic rules, and that it sees the Canada Elections Act as an obstacle that it may circumvent as it wishes. It can do anything it wants, anything that helps keep the party in power. Much like the majority of Canadians who care about respecting democratic rules, I believe that the Conservative government's ideology makes it truly incapable of respecting the most basic electoral rules that are common to modern democratic societies.

It is a good thing we have institutions like Elections Canada. This independent, non-partisan organization reports directly to Parliament. It is responsible for organizing elections and administering the political financing provisions of the Canada Elections Act. Furthermore, its mandate includes monitoring compliance and enforcing electoral legislation, to the great displeasure of those who try to circumvent it. We are truly privileged to live in a society that has such an organization to guarantee a truly healthy democracy. It is thanks to the work of that institution, which is responsible for defending our democratic rules, that the House has become aware of a scandal that dates back to the 2005-06 election campaign, which brought the Conservatives into power following a long Liberal reign, which also ended in a nasty scandal.

Although the Liberals are vehemently condemning the governing party's undemocratic behaviour today, we must not forget that, when it was in power, the Liberal Party of Canada created government programs with the primary but unspoken agenda to buy votes. The sponsorship program and the transitional jobs fund at Human Resources Development Canada enabled the Liberals to invest funds in ridings held by their political adversaries to buy the sympathy of voters. The Gomery inquiry uncovered an elaborate kickback scheme that enabled our Liberal friends to accumulate hundreds of thousands of dollars in their election fund.

But let us get back to our Conservative friends who, at the time, wrapped themselves in a cloak of integrity and transparency, but who have since found other equally reprehensible schemes to cheat democracy and abuse the electoral system. It bears saying and repeating that the Conservatives will stop at nothing to gain power, and that is why, in 2007, the Conservative Party had the audacity to sue Elections Canada in Federal Court because it refused to reimburse the election expenses of 67 candidates, including 27 in Quebec.

The dispute was over what we commonly refer to as an in and out system, which the Conservatives implemented and which enabled them, in 2006, to conceal national expenses by passing them off as local election expenses. Strangely, the Federal Court of Canada ruled in favour of the Conservative Party, but Elections Canada had the good sense to appeal, and a ruling was issued on March 1, 2011, by the Federal Court of Appeal, which overruled the earlier decision of the Federal Court. The ruling handed down on March 1 confirms Elections Canada's interpretation that the Conservatives violated the Canada Elections Act by using in and out financing.

The Conservative Party had almost reached its spending limits, so it spread $1.3 million that it spent on national ads among Conservative candidates who had not reached their personal spending limits.

According to Elections Canada, this money, which was purportedly used to fund local Conservative Party ads, was actually used for national ads. In its ruling, the Federal Court of Appeal said that if the Conservative Party were allowed to use that strategy, which the party still claims is legitimate, it would:

--weaken compliance with the limits set by Parliament on the amount of money that candidates may spend on their election and can recover by way of reimbursement from public funds. Abuses could well proliferate, and the statutory objective of promoting a healthy democracy through levelling the electoral playing field undermined.

It should be made clear that, in addition to this ruling, the Conservatives will be in Ontario Provincial Court on March 18, to defend charges laid by William Corbett, the Commissioner of Elections Canada, who began a parallel inquiry into the same transactions that the Chief Electoral Officer was so concerned about.

Mr. Corbett decided to lay charges against the Conservative Party and four high-ranking officials from the party, including two senators. Elections Canada has accused them of election fraud for supposedly having hidden overspending during the 2006 federal elections.

The Conservatives are even saying that everything was done legally. They are claiming to be the victims and they are even claiming that Elections Canada is taking revenge on the Conservative Party for its 2007 lawsuit against Elections Canada for refusing to refund dozens of candidates' election expenses.

But none of that holds water. The documents included in the Elections Canada affidavit and its annexes prove that.

During the 2005-06 election campaign, when they realized that the party was about to exceed its authorized spending limit, high-ranking Conservative Party officials developed a national advertising campaign scheme paid for by local candidates.

There were 67 Conservative candidates involved, and a number of them are cabinet members in the government of the Prime Minister, whose name I cannot say in the House, but whose name the Conservative government uses shamelessly, instead of the “Government of Canada”. I was saying that a good number of the candidates involved in this in and out scheme, deemed illegal by Elections Canada, today are ministers or hold senior positions in the Prime Minister's office. Alarm bells went off at Elections Canada in October 2006 and it has been investigating the Conservative government ever since.

In short, we will not be fooled under the circumstances: the Conservatives' version and their explanations do not hold water. The Prime Minister himself criticized Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley, after the 2007 court case seeking reimbursement from Elections Canada. When he was the president of the National Citizens Coalition, he called him the “perfect politician” capable of “providing the wrong answers to questions that no one asks”, and above all “having a public agenda”. These are criticisms that the Conservatives are again trotting out even though Mr. Kingsley is no longer there.

It is obvious that the Conservative leader prefers to blame the messenger rather than dealing with the source of the problem, which is the party itself.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the member was an excellent member of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics which dealt with this issue. She may recall that the government filibustered the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs when it tried to deal with this. It filibustered our committee and witnesses were told not to appear and to disregard the subpoenas. Conservatives had a binder with instructions on how to make Parliament and committees dysfunctional. The government gets rid of senior public officials who do not agree with it. It prorogues the House when it gets into hot water.

The pattern of behaviour shows that the government cannot be trusted. Conservatives have contempt for Parliament, contempt for democracy and contempt for the law.

Does the member have anything to add to that list?

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his comments, especially since he was the chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics for a number of years. He carried out his duties in an exemplary fashion. We have had our ups and downs with the Conservative Party. I moved a motion at the committee to examine the in and out scheme in detail, but there was an election and we were unable to do it.

The Conservative Party has this constant tendency to try to circumvent the law or to do everything to not admit the obvious. My colleague, who was chair of this committee, could also tell you this. When a committee serves a summons to a witness, as was the case last spring, and the law and most basic rules of democracy are not respected, something is not right. The Conservative Party is ignoring the Elections Act and all other Canadian laws.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the Bloc Québécois member a question.

Jean-Paul Marchand was a candidate. He lost the election in 2000. He was sued by the Bloc Québécois, which had used such a scheme. Mr. Marchand testified before Justice Godbout, a Superior Court judge. The ruling was handed down on November 21, 2003, in which it states:

Mr. Marchand concluded that the real purpose of this personal commitment was to fund the Bloc Québécois with public money and not to reimburse election expenses, as provided for by the Act.

Mr. Marchand's actual expenses were $22,276.37. He had agreed to spend $66,565. He made up fake expenses to claim rebates from the public coffers. There was no complaint to Elections Canada. Elections Canada did not intervene.

Can the member explain why Elections Canada did not intervene?

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Madam Speaker, what an honour it is to hear this question from the Conservative Party member.

Barely five minutes ago, he put the same question to my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, who is our party's election organizer. My colleague explained the details of this question at some length.

I would like to know why he repeated the question. Perhaps he needs to reread his notes. We have answered the question eloquently and there is no reason to go over it again and again.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today and speak to the motion of my colleague, the hon. member for Beauséjour. I also want to share my time with the hon. member for Malpeque. I am looking forward to his comments in regard to the motion as well.

The in and out affair is troubling and illegal. It shows that the Conservatives think the rules do not apply to them. We have to ask where is their law and order agenda now, when they are at the heart of the matter?

It is part of a broader pattern of secrecy and deceit, and of contempt for the rule of law. It is part of a pattern which results in the gutting of access to information laws. It results in attacks on independent agencies and officers of Parliament. It results in attacks on Parliament itself, with Tories now questioning the cost of answering questions. In all of this there is no respect for democracy, for the principles of fairness and for our institutions like Elections Canada.

The Tories, especially people like the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton, like to claim that all parties engage in the in and out process. There are provisions in the Canada Elections Act which allow for honest and legal transfer of funds between local campaigns and the federal party. My own campaign did so honestly and legally in 2005, but we did not do so to avoid national campaign expenditure caps. We did not do so to allow local party organizers to claim rebates from the Canadian taxpayer that they otherwise would not have been entitled to.

Honest and legal versus dishonest and illegal; there is a major distinction. That is why the Conservative Party offices were the subject of an RCMP search. They were raided. It is why the Conservative Party and its officials now face charges.

If this is so innocent, as the Tories claim, why did the member for Simcoe—Grey and the former member for Dauphin—Swan River, Inky Mark, reject taking part? It did not pass the smell test with them and it does not pass the smell test with Canadians.

Unfortunately, in the process many good people, even some good Tories, are being harmed. In my riding of Labrador my opponent in 2006 was Joe Goudie, a long-time politician, activist and craftsman. We fought hard during the campaign and in the end the voters made their decision. Certainly I am humbled and grateful for their support.

However, in the process of that campaign, the national Conservative Party, from its Ottawa headquarters down the street from this chamber, implicated Joe in the in and out scheme. His campaign was invoiced, and it was spelled, “nvoice”, for $2,097. It had the same typo as dozens of other “nvoices” to Conservative campaigns across the country. That strange typo, “nvoice”, is what helped investigators realize something unusual was going on with the Conservative Party finances. They were phony.

I want to quote from an affidavit of the official agent of Mr. Joe Goudie during the campaign. He said, “On January 16, 2006, the sum of $2,097.20 was deposited into Mr. Goudie's campaign account by the Conservative Party of Canada. On January 17, 2006, the Conservative Party of Canada debited Mr. Goudie's campaign account in the amount of $2,118.20. The difference between the two amounts, namely $21, was the bank's transfer fee which was charged to Mr. Goudie's campaign account and to my knowledge this amount has never been refunded by the Conservative Party of Canada”.

In one day, out the next.

He went on to say and swear in his affidavit, “I did not realize what we had been drawn into until I saw the coverage of the in and out transfers in the media. In the end, all I have is my reputation and my integrity. The fact that I and our local campaign team were innocently drawn into this scheme by the Conservative Party of Canada angers me greatly”.

In all, there was over $1.2 million in the shady invoices for supposedly local TV advertising. That is a clever trick in Labrador where we have no local TV stations.

I want to refer to the affidavit of the campaign manager for Joseph Goudie who said, “I was told by Mr. Hudson, a Conservative operative, that the Conservative Party of Canada would be sending us money for advertising but that we would have to send the money right back to the Conservative Party of Canada”.

She went on to say, “Mr. Hudson said that the money would be used for national ads run locally. Our campaign had just started and we had very little money and so I asked Mr. Hudson if I could use some of that money to advertise on local radio and in the local newspaper. Mr. Hudson said no, that this money was for TV advertising and that we would have to pay for radio and newspaper ads ourselves”.

She continued:

I then asked Mr. Hudson if the TV ads would mention or in any way reference Mr. Goudie’s campaign. He said the TV ads would be generic and there would be no reference to Mr. Goudie.

She then said:

To my knowledge, none of the television ads run by the Conservative Party of Canada during the election mentioned Mr. Goudie or his campaign either by spoken word or in writing.

She then summed up her feelings:

This whole thing really bothers me. When I begged for help from the Conservative Party of Canada, they wouldn’t even reply to my emails. It appears to me that the only interest the Conservative Party of Canada had in our campaign was to use us as part of this scheme. When I begged for help from the Conservative Party of Canada, they wouldn't even reply to my emails. It appears to me that the only interest the Conservative Party of Canada had in our campaign was to use it as part of this scheme. I had absolutely no reason to think or believe that there was anything wrong, or even questionable, about what Mr. Hudson told us to do. I simply followed instructions. I feel awful that we were used in this fashion. If I was the victim of one of those email scams, I wouldn’t feel any more duped than I do now for having been innocently caught up in this matter.

The spending that put the Conservatives over their national campaign limit resulted in improper benefits provided to Conservative riding associations. Let me make it clear that this was orchestrated by the Conservative Party at the national level. I want to return to the fact that Joe Goudie made it clear in his affidavit that he had no knowledge of impropriety. He did not know his campaign had even been involved until three years ago when his name came up on a TV newscast. He said he was used by the Conservative Party of Canada and that he has lost all faith in that party and its leader. Who could blame him?

Throughout this, Joe has done all the right things. He has been open in sharing what he knows and how his campaign was used by federal Conservative operatives. If only the Conservatives here in Ottawa could be as transparent and forthcoming. This illegal scheme illustrates how far the Conservatives will go in their quest for power. It is a shame.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments. We know how much the sponsorship scandal impacted Canadians over the years. Now we see the in and out scandal, as we call it, on the part of the Conservatives.

Does the member feel that it is time that we put more honesty in government? This is what we have been advocating for many years now.

We have talked about transparency. Obviously, there were transparency problems when we had the Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien governments in place. Members on the other side keep talking about transparency and that has not been happening.

I am wondering if the member thinks that we should go to proportional representation system instead, given the fact that some of his colleagues do support that type of change in government. I believe that at the end of the day we would better serve Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague from the New Democratic Party. However, I am not sure that if we had proportional representation that put x number of Conservatives in x number of seats that it would make the Conservatives any more honest or transparent.

The fact is that the Conservatives have not been honest, have not been transparent and they are willing to use whatever is at their disposal. Now before the courts are their alleged illegal practices to further their own aims and ambitions. In the process, it is the regular Canadians who have some faith in the democratic system and who want to do something better who get caught up in their mess and their scheme. It shakes the confidence of all Canadians in terms of their participation in the political process.

The Conservatives have done a disservice to Elections Canada, a disservice to this House by not being transparent and accountable and a disservice to ordinary Canadians who want to be involved and participatory.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the speech. I learned earlier today that in my riding the former member of Parliament was part of the Liberal in and out program. I think it was $5,000 that went in and $5,000 that went out.

I referenced earlier today the fact that we are actually here talking about the Liberals' inability to get over the fact that the people of Canada threw them out of power in 2006. They do not understand why it is that we were brought in to clean up the mess. That is one of the reasons that they were thrown out.

The NDP members also have some responsibility because they knew in 2004 that the Liberals were a corrupt lot. They had stolen millions of dollars from the taxpayers of Canada to finance campaigns in 2004. The ad scam was something that was reprehensible to everybody but the NDP still cut a deal with the then Liberal government to keep them in power longer.

Will the member and his party get over the fact that they lost the 2006 election and that now is the time to look forward and start focusing on what really matters to Canadians, mainly the economy?

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, given the Conservative Party's practices in 2006, some would say that the election was stolen and not won at all. I congratulate him on trying to use some pretty words, but I have to say that when wrong is done, it is honourable upon a party or a member to admit the wrong and to face it.

The Conservatives have laundered taxpayer money, honest people's money in this country. They are the ones who stand up in this House and cry that they represent the taxpayer. They do not represent the taxpayer. They represent themselves and they will use taxpayer money to further their own aims and their own objectives any day of the week. That is what Canadians will hear whenever they have another chance to vote for the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party.