House of Commons Hansard #190 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was world.

Topics

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:05 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to apologize to the people watching us on television because I really feel like we are getting lost in the debate. I have been in the House for six years. I arrived when the Conservatives came to power after the Liberal scandals.

What did the Conservatives do? Year after year, they raised the contribution limits because doing so gave them an advantage. The Conservatives abolished public funding because doing so gave them an advantage. Now that the Liberals are in power, they are normalizing a totally unacceptable practice and trying to ram it down our throats because it will give them an advantage.

I want to ask my colleague when he thinks we will see a publicly funded election. I think people know that democracy comes at a cost, and they are prepared to pay it. Instead of serving political parties, that would serve democracy.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who asked me the question knows that the taxpayers refunded 60% of what he spent on his last election campaign. They funded 60% of his election campaign on a rebate. Before that, everybody who gave $200 to his campaign got $150 back on a tax credit. That is pretty generous.

When I look at that, the cumulative aspect of those contributions and those rebates, members are getting pretty close to 90% of their political campaigns paid for by the taxpayers. That is not too bad. That is a pretty good number. When the member says there is not enough public funding, what does he want raised? Should it be more than 60% that would be rebated? Should the tax credit be more than 75%? It is not that high in the charitable sector. These are very generous public funding aspects that exist in the law.

That is not the concern here. The concern here is that this is not enough for the Liberals. The Liberals are saying that even with that kind of generous taxpayer support, they still need to have the right to allow people who want something from government to be able to go up to the Prime Minister or the minister, pay $1,500, and ask for what they want in return from the government. We are going to put it—

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my hon. colleague for his remarks, though I must say I disagree with the vast majority of what he said and I feel compelled to clear the record.

Let us begin with the most important principle here: it is that every member on this side of the House follows the rules when it comes to fundraising. We follow the rules, and I feel compelled—

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

I know my colleagues are heckling on the other side, Mr. Speaker.

However, I also feel compelled to remind my hon. colleague that the Ethics Commissioner concluded her investigation without any finding.

My colleague went on about his time in government and he went on about the record, though his tone seemed a bit strained, because even he conceded that in his previous government two of his colleagues breached the rules, not once but twice. On this side, we are proud of how we are raising the bar when it comes to openness and transparency, not only when it comes to fundraising but when it comes to access to information and when it comes to things like publishing the mandate letters, which the previous Conservative government had every chance to do but failed to do.

Will my hon. colleague not agree that the real reason he will not support this bill is that it reminds him of all of the missed opportunities and failures of his previous government, while it reminds every Canadian how we are succeeding when it comes to fundraising and ethics, openness, and transparency?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Leave it to the hon. member to defend the indefensible, Mr. Speaker, a bill that formalizes the Ontario Liberal system whereby the Minister of Finance has a quota of half a billion dollars from his stakeholders and the Minister of Health has a quota of half a billion dollars a year from the stakeholders for the Liberal Party. That is what cash for access was, and that is what this bill would establish as a legal system.

When there was doubt in the past, when the Ethics Commissioner could say something was wrong, there is a really easy answer once this bill is passed: “We follow the rules.” Who just said that? The hon. member said, “We will follow the rules.” Why? It is because, as the member for St. John's East said, there are rules that the parties set for themselves, and that is what this is. The rule the Liberal Party is setting for itself is to collect cash for access. The Liberals are the only ones with ministers and parliamentary secretaries, like him and like his minister, who have held cash-for-access fundraisers. They are the only ones who can do that and actually deliver access to ministers and people who can make decisions, so of course he wants to have a set of rules that allow that, because that is the Liberal system.

Their response is not what the Ontario Liberals had to do, which was to shut down cash for access; their response is to legalize and formalize cash for access. I am getting tired of saying it, but I am not as tired as Canadians are going to be after they see it under way.

For a while—for a couple of years, maybe—“we are following the rules” will work as an answer, but it did not work in Ontario. People figured out that the rules were made to facilitate that kind of Liberal corruption, and the chickens came home to roost.

That is what is going to happen to the Liberal Party here. They can formalize the system, but at the end of the day it is a corrupt system. They can legalize the system, but when it is a corrupt system, Canadians will not stand for it, and eventually, sooner or later, they will pay attention and find it unacceptable. Then the Liberal Party will pay the price for having made that critical decision to disrespect the fundamental principles of clean government and create a corrupt fundraising system and a law under which it can conduct it.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for a reminder of what this bill is about and what it is not about.

I wonder if my colleague has the concerns that I have and that I alluded to in my comments. I agree entirely with him. Not only are we entrenching this corrupt system and putting a happy face on it by the transparency point, but that very transparency will allow the government to know who attended, for example, a Conservative fundraiser, and therefore a person who was found to have attended could be punished when he or she wanted a government position because it is all going to be on the Internet. Does that feature cause any concerns to the hon. member?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will differ with my friend. I am not that concerned about that, because that risk already exists. The risk already exists, because we have public disclosure of contributions. Whether it is in real time or over the longer term, it does not make a difference. It is the same reason that these rules will not make a difference. It is exactly the same reason. That the rules will be formalized will not make a difference.

What matters, though, is the attitude. What is clear is that when a party is that hungry for money that it is willing to entrench a system, which is fundamentally corrupt, in the structure and way it operates, yes, Liberals probably are that vindictive. If they care about the money that much that, instead of doing what the Ontario Liberals did and shutting it down, they are doing the opposite by formalizing and legalizing it, they probably care enough to check out those annual disclosures. It is not going to be because of this bill; they are probably already doing it.

The message is loud and clear. When it is stakeholders to whom one goes and from whom one raises money, the message is loud and clear that who one gives money to matters. I used to be in a law firm, and partners would say they had been asked for so many dollars from so-and-so and thought they should attend an event because it was a certain minister. No, absolutely not. However, when it is formalized as a system, that kind of corruption becomes entrenched. That is what the Liberals are proposing to do.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise tonight and speak to Bill C-50 or, as I like to refer to it, the “got caught with my hand in the cookie jar so I'm going to blame the cookie jar act”, because that is exactly what the Liberals are trying to do with this legislation. They knew what the rules were. They knew what the rules were all along. Then they just broke them. They continued to break them. Then they got caught. Now they are trying to put up a bit of a cover for that. They did this for months. They went on and on with it. They showed no remorse. They did not seem to have any feelings of guilt. However, when they were caught, they decided that it was the rules' fault and not their fault. That is where we are today.

I guess we could look at it the way my colleague, the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, put it. He told me this legislation was designed to stop the Liberals from doing what they have been doing. Maybe it would just be easier if they just stopped doing it. What is even worse is this legislation would not even stop them from doing it. It is just a cover. When people forget about the cash for access scandals, they will just quietly start doing it again. This legislation really would not do anything to stop it.

Let me back up a bit and take us to where we started with all of this, or where they started with all of this. In November 2015, very shortly after the Liberals formed government, the Prime Minister issued some directives. These directives were titled, “Open and Accountable Government.” I suspect if anyone is watching tonight, they are probably chuckling a bit at that, because it does sound amusing to hear that title, given what we have seen from the Liberal government in the year and a half to two years it has been in power. However, I do not want us to get too distracted by that because it is a bit amusing. There is no question about that.

However, under “Annex B” of that directive, “Fundraising and Dealing with Lobbyists: Best Practices for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries”, the Prime Minister outlines three general principles that he said must be followed. I will read them:

Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must ensure that political fundraising activities or considerations do not affect, or appear to affect, the exercise of their official duties or the access of individuals or organizations to government.

There should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.

There should be no singling out, or appearance of singling out, of individuals or organizations as targets of political fundraising because they have official dealings with Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, or their staff or departments.

When we start thinking about that, they have broken all three of those multiple times.

Of particular note is the second principle that talks about preferential access to government by donors of political parties. Let us look at the Liberal record of upholding that principle as it pertains to the rules laid out in the Conflict of Interest Act.

In April 2016, the Minister of Justice attended a $500-a-ticket fundraiser at Torys LLP offices, in Toronto. Several of the law firm's members were registered to lobby the federal government, including a senior member who was registered to lobby the justice department. How, in any universe, is that not a conflict of interest? The Minister of Justice has a duty, not only to be independent, but also to be perceived as independent, which was very clearly compromised by that fundraiser.

What was discussed at this fundraiser? Did the lawyers who were present lobby the minister to advance their interests? Did the interests of those lawyers go further than the ones who did not contribute to the Liberal Party? At the time this was discovered, the Liberal Party refused to say who was in attendance at the event. That information only became public once it was posted on Elections Canada's website.

It is actually interesting that the Liberals feel the need to change the law to make sure that attendees at ministerial fundraisers remain public, because when given the chance, they refuse to do so themselves. It goes back to the principle that it would be easier to just stop doing what they are doing. They do not have to change the law to stop doing it; they just need to stop doing it. They know it is wrong, so they should not keep doing it.

How about the fundraiser the finance minister attended in Halifax in October, where corporate executives paid $1,500 each to attend? How about when the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, who was the Prime Minister's point person on legalizing marijuana, headlined a private Liberal fundraiser, attended by a marijuana lobbying group, at a law office in Toronto that advises clients in the cannabis business? Seriously, this stuff can not be made up. I know the Liberals eventually returned the donation from the marijuana lobbyist. They acknowledged what was obvious, that it was clearly a conflict of interest, but they only did so when the fundraising event became a media story. In other words, it was when they got caught. Again, they put their hand in the cookie jar, someone caught them, and they were trying to blame the cookie jar.

Because of all of this, we know that Liberal ministers and parliamentary secretaries cannot, or maybe will not, and are not following simple ethical rules when it comes to fundraising.

I am sure the Prime Minister must have been incredibly disappointed when members of his own government not only broke the conflict of interest rules but also the very rules he created himself called “Open and Accountable Government”. Hold on. Was he disappointed? As it turns out, in May of last year, the Prime Minister was a guest star at a $1,500 Liberal Party cash-for-access fundraiser at the mansion of a wealthy Chinese Canadian business executive. One of the guests in attendance was a donor who was seeking approval from the federal government to begin operating a new bank in Canada. Another guest at the event made a sizable donation to the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. It was $50,000 to build a statue of the former prime minister himself just weeks after the event. It was just a pure coincidence, I am sure.

It looks like it was not just his cabinet that was breaking his rules. The Prime Minister himself broke his own rules when it came to political fundraising, which is why I do not know how anyone can take this bill seriously. Again, if they want to stop doing it, they just have to stop doing it.

We all know what it really is. It is just a smoke screen they are putting up to make it seem like they are being accountable. They like to talk, but they do not really like to follow through with action. It is all talk and no action. It is just a smoke and mirrors situation, just like everything else they do.

If they really want to be accountable, they do not need a bill to do so. They could just stop selling access to the government for cash. They could voluntarily provide the list of attendees at their fundraising events. They could ensure that the Prime Minister and other members of cabinet were not in a conflict of interest when they attended partisan events. A new law is not going to make their cash-for-access fundraisers ethical. It just will not do that.

If the Prime Minister wanted to end cash for access, all he ever had to do, and all he still has to do, is stop doing these fundraisers. It is that simple. It does not take legislation.

Bending the rules so the Prime Minister can keep charging $1,500 for wealthy individuals to meet with him and discuss government business is still wrong. It will always be wrong. That is clear. What else is clear are the rules. Why do the Liberals not just start following the rules like everyone else?

Here is the answer. It is because they are not open, they are not transparent, and they definitely have no intention of actually being accountable. They like to talk about it, but they certainly do not want to walk the walk. It seems like this is a pattern with these Liberals. It is a pattern with all Liberals, but certainly with these ones. They do not want to be accountable to Canadians.

Remember just a few months ago when the government House leader introduced her quite ironically titled discussion paper on changes to the Standing Orders. It became obvious very soon after that a discussion was actually the last thing the Liberal Party wanted and they tried to ram those changes through the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, with no discussion, no debate, no questions and answers, and without unanimous consent.

Let us try to remember some of the changes they were trying to force through and I am sure they are going to continue to try to force through. They want to take every Friday off. Canadians work five days a week, at least. Why does the Prime Minister and the Liberal government think that they are more entitled than average Canadians? It is a pattern with them again. They seem to think they are entitled.

Really, I think they want to avoid scrutiny from the opposition parties, the media, and therefore Canadians. Why show up and be held accountable five days a week when they can try to get away with just four? They will try to get away with cash for access. Why not try to get away with fewer days to be held accountable?

Furthermore, the Liberals proposed that the Prime Minister only attend question period once a week. I realize the Prime Minister does not actually answer questions when he comes to question period anyway, but that does not mean he should not show up most days. He should be expected to show up so that people can see him not answering the questions. What would that mean? With the schedule of the House of Commons and his showing up and answering questions one time a week, it boils down to his answering questions for as little as 25 hours in an entire year. That is on the weeks he shows up at all, because last week we did not see him once.

Some of the other changes that were being proposed by the Liberals were designed to limit and handcuff the opposition, essentially to not allow them to do their jobs to full capacity. These changes would have diminished Parliament and they largely would have stripped the opposition of the power to hold the Prime Minister and his government to account. There it is again, the lack of wanting to be accountable.

What is worse than the outrageous changes they tried to make, which I am sure will continue, is the fact that they tried to ram these changes through a Liberal dominated committee without the consent of all political parties. This was an unprecedented move that had not been seen before in Canadian democracy. It had been a long-standing tradition in Parliament that any changes to the way the House of Commons operates must have unanimous consent from all the major parties represented in the House.

That entire standing order debacle made it quite clear that the Prime Minister has absolutely no respect for democracy. The Liberals only backed down after Canadians let them know that they would not stand for it. Again, the Liberals get away with it as long as they can and when they are called out on it, they try to find some way to weasel out of it.

During the procedure and House affairs committee, I had the opportunity to read hundreds of emails from Canadians who were upset and very angry that the Liberals were trying to subvert democracy in such a way. An e-petition that was created on March 23, collected over 30,000 signatures pretty much over a weekend.

I am happy and proud that Canadians became so engaged in our parliamentary process, but it should not have had to come to that. The Liberals should have known better, just like they should know better when it comes to cash for access fundraisers. I know they do know better. They think they can get away with it and that is just plain wrong.

The Liberal government members should be accountable, should be open, and should be transparent on their own, not only when there is public outcry. It should not take public outcry to make them appear to be accountable, open, and transparent. They should just be doing it, but that is not the LIberal way.

There is another parallel I can draw. We have heard it mentioned a couple of times tonight already, but this bill deals with a problem that the Liberals have created themselves, which they could just stop doing. They do not need a bill to stop doing it. There are all kinds of serious matters that are potential threats to our democracy that they could be dealing with. A great example of this is third-party spending during elections. I will take a moment to talk about that glaring issue.

The commissioner of elections told the Senate committee the following:

We have received a significant number of complaints about the involvement of third parties in connection with the 2015 general election. And I would add we received many more complaints than had been filed with respect to the previous election in 2011.

Common to many of these complaints was the perception that third parties, in some ridings, were so significantly involved in the electoral contest that this resulted in unfair electoral outcomes.

I would suggest that third-party engagement in Canada’s electoral process will likely continue to grow. For that reason, it may be time for Parliament to re-examine the third-party regime....

The previous electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, also testified that a registered third party can accept and use foreign money during a Canadian electoral campaign and that, further, there is no limit to the amount it can spend, except on advertising. The current election law only regulates third-party activities that are directly related to advertising. Therefore, Elections Canada does not define things like surveys, election-related websites, calling services, push polls, and other things to communicate with electors as advertising. Once the funds are mingled in with an organization in Canada or from outside of Canada, it is within their funds and they can use those funds in an unlimited amount, the way it is now.

The commissioner further stated:

In Canada, third parties are only regulated with respect to their election advertising activities. Provided they act independently from a candidate or party, they may incur limitless amounts of expenses when carrying out activities such as polling, voter contact services, promotional events, etc. They can also use whatever sources of funding—including foreign funds—to finance these non-election advertising activities.

The level of third party engagement in Canada's electoral process will likely continue to grow in the years to come. For that reason, Parliament should consider whether there is a need to re-examine the third-party regime, with a view to maintaining a level playing field for all participants.

Does no one on the government side find those statements in any way concerning? They should.

The commissioner of Canada elections is saying that Parliament needs to be looking at changing the third-party regime to ensure the integrity of Canadian elections. Instead, the Liberals are introducing legislation to police themselves because the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Instead, they could be dealing with something that would ensure the integrity of elections. That is what we should be doing. In fact, on this one, the Minister of Democratic Institutions is turning a blind eye and pretending that this has not even been flagged as an issue. It was said by the commissioner of Canada elections, nonetheless.

During question period in the Senate recently, the minister testified on foreign funding in third-party spending during elections, and stated:

From the experience we have, we have found that this is not something that is currently present and so significant that it would impact the electoral system or the confidence that Canadians have during a writ period or during an election.

She also said, “there's very little evidence to suggest that foreign money is influencing Canadian elections by third parties.” It seems to be quite different from what the commissioner had to say, quite different. I will point out that just because the minister is turning a blind eye does not mean this is not a glaring issue. As the minister's mandate letter famously put it, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant to concerns about our political process.” Why is she not shining a little light on this issue? Is this issue not in need of a little sunshine? Why do we not deal with that? It is not dealt with in Bill C-33 and it is not dealt with in Bill C-50, which we have before us today.

At the end of the day, Liberal members opposite can use all the platitudes they want. They can claim all they want to be open, transparent, and accountable, but Canadians are certainly growing tired of their games. Canadians are seeing the Liberal government for what it really is: the same party that brought us the sponsorship scandal, only with slightly better hair and maybe some really snappy socks.

The Liberals got caught breaking the rules, and changing the rules does not make them any less guilty. They still broke the rules, and they continue to break the rules. It is time for that to change.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2017 / 11:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, what has been going on here? We have had legislation presented. It is up for debate and public scrutiny.

Pierre Poutine must be absolutely rolling over, wherever he is hiding right now. Hey, that did not happen. No, instead we had somebody led away in handcuffs and leg irons. We had in-and-out scandals. We had stuff going on that was really hard to figure out. In the absence of rules, we had Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright. However, the paragons of virtue over there certainly had to take the time to harass the charities that may have had something to say in the democratic process.

Now we have a party that has the social conservative boot on its throat, calling the shots, and where is the transparency there? How could they have the chutzpah to get up and lecture this side of the House, when even their most recent history is littered with all manner of malfeasance and criminal activity that has been proven?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not even know where to start with that. Is this guy over there for real? Is he for real?

He asks what is going on. I will tell you what is going on. The Liberal Party is selling access to the government for cash. That is what is going on. I will tell you right now that this legislation is just a smokescreen to cover up the fact that the Prime Minister of this country is corrupt. That is unacceptable. If they want to try to put up a smokescreen and try to pretend that they are somehow being accountable, what a joke. You guys are a joke. It is a complete farce.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We are going to continue to make sure that the commentary, questions, and speeches and the like are directed to the Chair. We are going to do that in the third person sense of things. We are going to avoid those “you” words.

Now we are going to go to questions and comments.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I must say that despite the late hour, I am really enjoying the debate at this point. We get to hear the Liberals list the past scandals of the Conservative Party and the Conservatives list the past scandals of the Liberal Party. For the New Democratic Party, it is really enlightening to have a reminder of the records of both parties on these questions.

My question for the hon. member is one that we posed earlier. We have concerns about this bill, but we are prepared to vote for it, send it to committee, and try to make a bill that works for all Canadians.

My question is this: can the hon. member tell us if the Liberal Party is willing to work with other parties to improve this bill or not?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I do not know.

We have not seen much willingness from the Liberal Party to work with opposition members on much of anything. I mentioned the Standing Orders in my speech, and they were just trying to ram those down our throats, so it seems to be kind of a pattern. The Liberals are trying to pretend they are open and trying to pretend they are accountable, but they are certainly proving to be anything but. They are all talk and no action. There is no doubt about that.

I can stand here all night listing examples of the government saying one thing and doing another. This Prime Minister is the biggest phony I have ever seen in my life. I will tell the Liberals right now that Canadians are starting to see through that. They are starting to realize just what a phony the Prime Minister is. He talks a big game, but he sure does not deliver. Canadians are going to see right through that. In the next election, they are going—

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. In the course of debate here, I would ask hon. members to avoid individual characterizations of hon. members that are bordering on the edge of unparliamentary language. I would caution members to avoid the edges of that and to keep decorum the way it should be and the way members expect it to be.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I assume the member's memory is very short. Perhaps he was not a member of Parliament when Canadians were paying attention in 2009. Perhaps I should remind him. One of the leadership candidates, the member for Milton, was minister of natural resources at the time. Let me remind him what happened at the time, because they talk about cash for access. Cash for access is when a lobbyist is caught organizing a fundraiser. Let me remind the member what that was in 2009.

Michael McSweeney worked for the Cement Association of Canada. He was caught by the lobbying commissioner for organizing a fundraiser for the member for Milton. He actually was fined. The member for Milton is still standing at the front gate. The leader of the official opposition is promoting that kind of behaviour.

Could the member accept that this type of behaviour is unacceptable? We know that on this side of the House, no one was caught and shackled, and no one was caught by the lobbying commissioner.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asks what cash for access is. We know what it is. I think he would probably be the biggest expert, having worked at Queen's Park, where this was imported from.

I find it quite pathetic what we hear from the Liberals over and over. We are hearing it again tonight. We hear it from the Prime Minister and ministers in question period every day. They try to deflect everything by saying the Conservatives were terrible. It is because they do not want anyone to pay attention to all the stuff they are doing right now that is putting the country into a huge deficit and is ruining our democracy.

They are trying to avoid being held accountable. They are trying to avoid having the sun shone on them. Even when there is nothing there, they say, “The bad Conservatives. Everything is their fault.”

They are in charge, and they are ruining the finances of the country, so maybe the member wants to look at himself--

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Calgary Signal Hill.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, if my memory serves me correctly, the Liberals took a hiatus at the end of the last calendar year from these cash-for-access events, because they were caught. They took a hiatus and said they were going to draft legislation. What happened in the first quarter of 2017 was that their fundraising dried up. When they had to go to regular Canadians and ask them to contribute to their party, it dried up.

The Conservative Party raised double what the Liberals raised, and if we add in the leadership candidates, it was triple what the Liberals raised. Would the member comment on whether the only way Liberals can shake down Canadians is by legalizing cash for access?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:45 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. As I said, they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Their way to try to avoid being held accountable for that was to lay off for a little while, take it easy, then put up this piece of legislation to provide themselves some cover. When people were not paying attention anymore, they just picked right back up where they left off.

In the meantime, when they have to ask everyday Canadians for money, it is not so easy for them. Their fundraising dropped way off in that period of time. As the member said, it is almost half of what the Conservative Party raised, and when we add in the amounts received by Conservative leadership candidates, it is almost one-quarter of what the Conservative Party was able to raise, because we go out with honest, ethical practices and get donations from everyday Canadians who believe in what we are trying to do.

I can understand why no Canadians would believe in what the Liberals are trying to do, because they are just running the country into huge deficits and debt. They are increasing taxes on Canadians and making life more difficult for the middle class, small business owners, and others, so they do not have any money left to give to a political party. They certainly want to see what the Conservative Party is offering that will make life better for them.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We are going to resume debate. Before we do, I will just let the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell know that there are only 13 minutes remaining in the time for government orders this evening, so he will get the remaining time when the House next resumes debate on the question.

The hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:45 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise to speak to Bill C-50, and to have the opportunity to talk about the importance of providing more transparency on how party leaders and political parties fundraise.

I just want to mention a few things about the objective of the bill. It is about fundraising events and applying more transparency to events involving cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister, which was not there before. It is about including more transparency for party leaders and leadership contestants of parties, which was not there before.

I have to talk about party leaders who are running for nominations because to this day we still do not know who donated to Stephen Harper. Thirteen years later, Stephen Harper has not released the amounts—

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

11:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!