Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-377.
This is a private member's bill put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Châteauguay—Lacolle. As we know, it proposes to change the name of her electoral district to Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville.
The municipality of Lacolle, which is currently included in the name of my colleague's electoral district, is actually located in the neighbouring riding of Saint-Jean. This is confusing as we have heard, for residents in both ridings and for this reason, the hon. member for Saint-Jean supports the legislation as well. Our government in turn supports the bill because it makes good sense.
Typically, as all members know, riding names are selected during a process every decade under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. In the latest process, census commissions were created in all provinces after the 2011 census. Each three-person commission, in accordance with the legislation, was chaired by a judge appointed by the provincial chief justice.
In the spring and summer of 2012, the commissions crafted and made public proposals for each of their respective provinces. They then held hearings to get public feedback and to consider possible alterations. Final reports were submitted by the Chief Electoral Officer to the Speaker of the House of Commons. They were then referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
This process is as exciting as it sounds. I think we can all agree with that. That referral gave MPs an opportunity to file objections, which the committee considered before producing its final report. That report was put forward to the commissions with the recommended changes.
In the case of Quebec, the committee sent 11 objections to riding names and suggested alternatives. All were adopted and the 2013 Representation Order was proclaimed that autumn, resulting in our new electoral map.
However, Parliament has the option of adopting name changes after this process finishes. Normally this goes smoothly, though in 2003-04 there were objections from the Chief Electoral Officer at the time, Jean-Pierre Kingsley. Mr. Kingsley pointed out that there was an excessive administrative burden imposed because it took place so close to the 2004 election. He also voiced concern that the change could lead to public confusion and additional costs because electoral materials would have to be reprinted and software reconfigured. However, there have not been any significant issues identified when name changes are proposed well in advance of elections.
In the case of the bill we are considering now, there is no indication that the name change will cause any technical problems. Elections Canada has asked that no name exceed 50 characters, including hyphens and dashes. This proposed new name is well below that threshold. I am sure the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent would agree with that.
Elections Canada has also asked that name change bills receive royal assent no later than January 2019. There is plenty of time.
In addition to this kind of legislation, our government and indeed all members of this chamber must do everything in our power to encourage Canadians to participate in our democracy. Confusing Canadians, confusing voters does not foster participation in our democracy. In fact, the Minister of Democratic Institutions has spoken passionately about the need for us to do everything we can to encourage and not discourage democratic participation.
As a result, we are committed to restoring integrity to our democratic process by reversing some of the previous government's Fair Elections Act, which made voting difficult for so many. We are accomplishing this with Bill C-33, which was introduced last year, as all members of the House know. This legislation, if passed, would make it easier for Canadians to vote, get more Canadians involved in voting, and build confidence and integrity in our voting system.
In essence, this private member's bill is about empowering Canadians. It is about empowering constituents to feel they are part of the process.
I do find it a little surprising that some members opposite are quarrelling about the process, although are supportive of the substance. However, there are many ways to get to the same objective. For instance, some people wear belts. Some wear suspenders. Neither is right and neither is wrong. They both get to the goal that is established at the outset, and in this case, it is holding up one's pants. Does it really matter what process is used if it supports the goal? It is a fair and open process. Surely we can all agree on that in this place.
My colleague for Châteauguay—Lacolle knows her constituents' concerns better than any of us. She has heard from them. We heard her say there is a petition in the riding asking to change the name of the riding. The member for Châteauguay—Lacolle would ignore that at her peril. How could she go back home and say she got the petition with the thousand names, but decided to ignore it because the opposition wanted her to do something else for them instead? Would they not ask if she were not here to work for them? Of course she is, as we all are throughout this country, working very hard for our constituents. To the suggestion there is some flaw in her conclusion that it is important to her constituents, I would say, no, there is not.
I honestly believe, as I think we all do, that this private member's bill—