Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention. This may be a brief response, not because it is not an important issue but because it is.
Democratic reform is a very serious and difficult task. I begin by commending the member for Wellington—Halton Hills for his important work in strengthening our democratic institutions and for bringing forward the reform act.
The reform act is an effort to strengthen Canada's democratic institutions by restoring the role of elected members of Parliament in the House of Commons. The member opposite said in his original question that the leaders of the three major parties threatened to kill the bill if it was not watered down. I would like to point out that, as with all private members' business, we said we would take time to carefully review the amendments proposed by the member to his own bill.
The reform act, Bill C-586, has now been read a second time and has been referred to committee, where it is right now. Of course, the committee is the master of its own destiny, but the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills proposed two changes in response to consultations held over the summer and to build support for his bill.
First, he concluded that perhaps the way it was written with respect to party nominations was too prescriptive, which would make it difficult for parties to, for example, meet diversity targets. In fact, the member opposite is from a party that is exactly 50% male and 50% female here in the House of Commons, but other parties have not reached that target yet.
The amendment the member for Wellington—Halton Hills has proposed is that instead of insisting that it be only a local decision in terms of who signs nomination papers, the party could determine who would sign these nomination papers. It could be somebody locally. It could even be the leader, but it would not be prescribed to be the leader, as it is currently in the Canada Elections Act.
The second change he is proposing is that each House of Commons caucus, after every general election, as its first item of business, in a recorded manner, could vote on whether members wanted to accept the template laid out in his bill or a different set of rules, and they would have the freedom to do so.
Quite simply, the bill takes the current unwritten convention and makes explicit in statute the rules and process for the caucus to review the party leader. Additionally, the reform act proposes that a party leadership review may be initiated by the submission of a written notice to the caucus chair, signed by at least 20% of the caucus members, and would mandate that the caucus chair make public the names of those caucus members requesting a vote.
When a majority of caucus members voted in favour of a leadership review, a second vote by secret ballot would occur, and they could select a person to serve as the interim party leader until a new party leader was elected.
Our government has continually delivered on its democratic reform commitments. More backbench MPs have passed bills into law through this majority Conservative Parliament than under any government since 1972, and we still have a year to go.
I should add that The Globe and Mail analyzed 162,000 votes over almost two years and found that Conservative MPs are far more likely to vote independently from their party than opposition MPs, as opposed to the NDP, for example, in which not a single MP voted against the party line.
As the member opposite knows, the Prime Minister and our government supported the bill, and as it comes back from committee, this House will have the privilege to examine the bill again at third reading.