Mr. Speaker, I rise to address an interesting bill, I will say that much.
Electoral reform, finances, and the election finances act always make for an interesting discussion. My colleague and friend has had a number of discussions on this particular issue. There are individuals in this chamber who I know like to have that debate on the direction we should be moving and how political entities are in fact financed. It will be one of those never-ending debates. There are always ways that we might want to look at making some changes.
The direction we have been moving in the last 20 or so years is somewhat encouraging. I have an immense amount of respect for Elections Canada. Many established democracies around the world and countries who want to establish democracies look at Canada as a case in point. Even though we might be a relatively young nation at 150 years old, there is a sense that we have it right, and that we do not want to be stagnant, but want to continue to look at ways we can improve the situation and do not take things for granted.
The government does not take the issue of finances for granted. We have a fantastic Minister of Democratic Institutions who has brought forward legislation that will see substantial changes. At the end of the day, this government and, maybe not quite as much, the Harper government, but governments in general have attempted to modify our Elections Act and elections finances act to strengthen our democracy. Sometimes there is a little step back, but all in all, we have been moving forward. That really applies to the area of finances.
We have seen a significant shift. When I was first elected at the provincial level, and it would apply in the same manner at the federal level, politicians would go to some fairly well-financed individuals or corporations to pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars to a political entity. We look at it from that perspective. I can remember my 1988 election campaign, when lot of money financing that election, at least for some, came from outside the province of Manitoba. That same thing could be seen in Canada as well. There was a point in time when people could actually raise money that would come indirectly from outside Canada.
All in all, when we look at it, we have moved significantly forward. We have a healthier democracy today than we had in previous years. I choose to believe, through discussions such as the one we are having this evening, such as the fine work that the procedure and House affairs committee does, and the work of other individuals who have a keen interest in this subject matter, that we will continue to evolve and look at ways to improve the system.
I want to reflect on the legislation that the Minister of Democratic Institutions has brought to this House. With respect to leaders, leadership candidates, the Prime Minister, and all ministers, when they have fundraising events, we have committed as a government that when a ticket costs in excess of $200, the names of the attendees have to be publicized. We have talked about having a publicly accessible facility. There are things that the government has recognized it would be nice to move forward on. We have taken action on those.
We are asking our friends in the Conservatives and New Democrats and in particular their respective leaders, to look at that and maybe not wait until the legislation is actually proclaimed but indicate and send a strong message to Canadians that they too believe in the type of transparency and accountability that we are talking about on the government side.
It needs to be emphasized for my friends in the Bloc and the New Democrats that to try to give the impression that the elections are not publicly financed is not entirely true. There is substantial support for our federal elections and candidates. I as a candidate, for example, can attempt to raise money and those fine people who decide to donate to me, or to the Liberal Party through me, will get a tax credit. If people give a $100 donation, they will get $75 back. Those across the way talked about $1,500 donations and so forth. In my case and I know in my colleagues' case it is very rare that I would get a $1,500 donation. I have no objection to taking a $1,500 donation but to make it very clear, whether someone gives me a $1,500 donation, which is the limit according to the law, or a $100 donation, I appreciate both donors, or if it is a $10 donation. My vote is not for sale. I am not going to be bought by $1,500 so it is wrong for others across the way to try to give an impression that a member of this House could be bought by a $1,500 donation.
In fact, I tell individuals that my campaign is not just about money. They can volunteer in the campaign. I value my volunteers, the ones who come and knock on doors with me, the ones who put up signs, the ones who circulate brochures and do all those wonderful tasks that are so important in having a campaign where we are trying to communicate with the residents whose support we want. I value their efforts just as much as I value the individuals who say they cannot go out and do door knocking with me but will give me a $100 donation. Both are of great value to me. For people to think that they can give me a substantial donation or put in a phenomenal number of hours or put up 500 signs and they are going to be getting a favour or something in return from me, that is just not true. That is not the way it works. Democracy is a wonderful thing, and I honestly believe that I am not alone, that all members of the chamber are honourable members and they cannot be bought for $1,500.
We have taken away big companies, corporations, and unions and the manner in which they used to finance political parties. We have put it back to individuals. The greatest growth in donations to the Liberal Party of Canada, I understand, is through those small donations that are coming from tens of thousands of Canadians every year. It has been growing as Canadians recognize good sound policy that is coming from the government, how this government is supporting our middle class and those wanting to be a part of it and those who do not have the financial means. They see the positive things that are being done by this government and a number of them want to participate in the democratic process by ensuring they continue to support us.
Whether they support us as a party or they support the Conservatives or even the New Democrats or the Greens, democracy is very important to us as a nation. It takes money in order to finance it. There is nothing wrong with individuals giving donations to political parties. We have fantastic independent institutions like our ethics commissioners and our lobbyists. We have good Elections Canada rules in place to protect our democracy and the integrity of this House and I have full confidence in our current system. No doubt over the coming years, we will see some positive changes.