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

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-24. There are a number of significant problems with what I would call the laughable bill that is before the House today, and I wish to bring some attention to those.

There are three main problems I wish to address. First, the bill would delete the role of regional development ministers, thereby leaving economic development in Atlantic Canada, western Canada, and northern Canada in the hands of a minister in Toronto. That seems rather unfair. Second, Bill C-24 lacks transparency by allowing the government to appoint three mystery ministers. Third, the Liberals claim to be taking a stand for women with the legislation by creating a cabinet that upholds so-called gender parity, but in fact, that is not the case, and I wish to explore that further.

With regard to regional representation, as Canadians we should strive to work together for equality while also embracing diversity. Our diversity, of course, is what makes us unique as a country. We celebrate what western Canada has to offer. We celebrate what Atlantic Canada has to offer. We celebrate what the north has to offer and what eastern Canada and central Canada have to offer. Bill C-24 provides a threat not only to the feminist movement but to our way of life as a diverse and beautiful people.

The bill aims to eliminate the positions of our former government's six regional development agency ministers. The elimination of these positions would remove the ability of the different regions across Canada to be accurately represented in government. The Liberals continue to say that they want to work with the provinces and municipalities, yet in the bill, they are trying to remove cabinet voices that represent specific regions, such as western Canada, Atlantic Canada, and the north. This action shows the insensitivity of the Liberals toward national issues and having those issues voiced at the cabinet table.

I believe that our country has different cultures, industries, and issues that in each region need to be treated with unique care. Of course, the bill would prevent that from being the case. Traditionally, regional development agency ministers brought their regions' issues to Parliament to ensure accurate representation, but as I said, this bill would gut that opportunity.

I would also like to speak to the bill's lack of transparency. It seems that the Liberals are just demanding a blank cheque. They are not willing to tell us, as members of Parliament, where this money would go or which ministers they would appoint. We are told that there would be three mysterious ministers and ministries that would be created through the bill, and taxpayer money would go to that.

What are the Liberals hiding, and why are they not being transparent with us and with the Canadian public with regard to their plans in going ahead and creating these ministries?

There is absolutely no way that I, nor I believe any members on this side of the House, are going to vote for a piece of legislation that demands a blank cheque with no accountability, no transparency, and no honesty. That is not good governance, and I will not stand for that.

Moving on to the third problem in the bill, I would like to talk about its impact on women. When it comes to changing the salaries of ministers of state, I have to boldly contend that Bill C-24 is nothing more than a slap-dash attempt to cover up for the Liberals' media embarrassment.

The Prime Minister announced his cabinet. He announced that due to his quota system, gender parity had all of a sudden been achieved. There had been some sort of arrival that had been granted to the Liberal Party of Canada. The media was quick to pick up on this and to note that this was not in fact the case. There were actually several ministers of state, all of whom were women. Women were being placed in positions with less authority, less responsibility, and smaller budgets than where their male counterparts were being placed. This revealed the inequality in the Prime Minister's cabinet appointments.

We know ministers of state earn less money and they have fewer responsibilities than ministers. Even though it was clear that a couple of ministries had already been made up to achieve gender parity, it still ended up that female ministers were earning less than their male colleagues. The quota system, with its contrived gender parity, severely damaged the credibility of these women.

I believe the bill does an incredible disserve to the women of the House and to the women of Canada as well, because we do serve as role models. It is tokenism at its finest and, as a woman, I am offended by what the Prime Minister has done.

As a strong, intelligent, and hard-working woman, I want to be entrusted with responsibilities and granted a voice at the cabinet table, not based on my genitalia but based on my ability and not according to anything other than that. I want my salary to match the work I do and the responsibilities I carry within this place. Changing the pay system would not in fact create equality, but it would create even greater inequality.

Women have shown they can climb any ladder in Canada that they choose to, whether it be in business, politics, or academia. Overlooking this achievement by trying to legislate equality is an injustice to the many women who have fought, and who continue to fight, to gain pay equality for equal work.

From its inception, the Conservative Party of Canada has modelled quite well what it is to put women in strategic places of leadership and to do so based on their abilities. The Conservative Party had the first female prime minister, the Right Hon. Kim Campbell, which the current Prime Minister appears to have forgotten. Therefore, I will remind the House that there has been a female prime minister, that she did exist.

In addition to that, the Conservatives also put in place the first female cabinet minister in Canada's history, under Prime Minister Diefenbaker. The Conservative Party continues to champion strong women in politics. I am here today on this side of the House as a proud Conservative member. I am treated incredibly well by both female and male colleagues. I have never been made to feel less than them. In fact, I am celebrated because of what I bring to the table. That is the way it is supposed to be.

Let me draw attention to the member for Sturgeon River—Parkland. She is a prime example of what it is to be a strong and capable woman within the political realm. Before becoming the interim leader of the Conservative Party, she held a number of cabinet posts. During her time as a member of Parliament, she has raised awareness for crimes committed against women and girls through her private member's bill, the just act. She has boosted support for girls by championing the internationally recognized International Day of the Girl through the UN. She implemented several high-profile health initiatives as the minister of health. The member has also shown Canada that women can accomplish exactly what they set their mind to without government creating quotas or making special accommodations for them.

We do need to pursue true equality, but not this fake equality or so-called equality that the Liberals are trying to push forward in their agenda. As for me, a middle-aged white guy, with so-called great hair, does not get to tell me my value, my worth, my dignity or my ability.

There is much to be considered when we look at Bill C-24. We must fight for Canada's future as a nation that values hard work and equality, not just equality on paper but honest equality that is seen in real life. In Canada, women are given the ability to work to accomplish the same things as their male counterparts, an opportunity that cannot be overlooked if we value the future of our women.

Instead of a gender quota system, the Prime Minister could have appointed based on merit and probably could have achieved much the same thing. If he had done this, he would have given credit where credit was due and he would have contended for the equality and the value of women. That is the type of prime minister I would like to see our country have. He or she is still to come.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I am shocked that the member opposite would suggest that these appointments were not merit based. My question is based on a couple of points.

The Minister of Science has 90 universities, over 200 colleges, and a budget of $10 billion. The Minister of International Development has a budget of $5 million. Though the Conservatives may be shocked from the previous 10 years, it is an important part of our foreign policy.

Is this less authority? At what threshold do these ministers become important?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I am not sure why the member opposite is yelling at me. I do not know why he feels the need to raise his voice. Perhaps it is because I am a woman.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Mansplaining.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Wow.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Wow is right, bud.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

There is too much going back and forth in the House right now, and too many comments. I would again remind the members of a rule in the House that when someone has the floor, he or she should have the respect of all members in the House to allow the member to answer. If members have anything to contribute to the discussion, either by comment or question, they can take their opportunity to stand and be recognized in the House.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, what I talked about was with regard to equal treatment of women. Every woman deserves the same pay as a man if she does the same job as a man. I believe in equal pay for equal work. That should be upheld in this place and in the whole country, from coast to coast.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, it is becoming increasing clear that the solution to the problem the Prime Minister created himself is a cabinet shuffle, not a bill.

I am wondering if my colleague could name any men in cabinet who have not been living up to expectations, who could be assigned other duties, so that the Prime Minister could hand those portfolios over to women ministers, after thinking about it over the summer.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I could draw on a number of examples where male ministers have been put in place and have not upheld the role and responsibilities they had been granted. I do not wish to draw attention to those things right now. It is beyond what we are talking about today.

The point I am really hoping to make is that regardless if one is male or female, gender really should not be brought into account. Ministers are given a list of responsibilities, a list of tasks, a budget to oversee, a staff to manage, and they need to do that with competence.

Whether male of female, if the person has the ability to do it, is the best person for the job, then that individual should be put into the cabinet post to do that job.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Madam Speaker, the member talked about how she felt as a woman and how well respected and well treated she was within her party. Then she referred to women on this side of the House as quotas, and I have heard other members refer to them as tokens. Does that respect not go right across the floor? Should all women and men in the House not be respected? I am not feeling we are getting that tonight.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, yes, the members opposite do deserve to be respected. That was exactly why I said what I did. They should not be treated as an opportunity for quota. They should not be treated as tokens. They should be treated as equal partners in leading Canadians. They should be treated as people who are intelligent, hard working, and able to contribute based on their merits and abilities rather than based on their gender.

That is what I experience on this side of the House. I wish the same for them.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Before I go to the next speaker, I know people are questioning how questions are being allocated.

On November 3, 2016, the Deputy Speaker indicated:

...time for questions and comments is often the most valuable time for an exchange between members. In accordance with the procedures and practices, we will do our best to ensure that time is generally afforded to the members of the parties who are not associated with the member who has just spoken but not to the exclusion of that party...

Generally in a 10-minute round there is an opportunity for a question to be asked to the same party, unless nobody else is getting up. Because the member was from the Conservative Party, the decision to allow the questions from the other parties to question the member was how it was afforded.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, this is a rather special evening. I have worked hard in life to get to where I am today. I have never been singled out for anything because of my name or gender. I have always tried to get jobs because I was good at what I did, not because I am a woman. The problem I have is with the parts of the bill that talk about parity. For me, that does not mean appointing the same number of women as men.

For me, parity is about action. Parity is not just taking a nice photo with 15 men on one side and 15 women on the other, while the rest of the time the men are telling those women to shut up and look pretty. That is not what parity means to me.

I have a problem with this bill because it would mean giving the Liberals a blank cheque. We would be telling them that we agree that they should appoint people, three ministers, without even knowing what their titles will be. Meanwhile, you are causing our regions to empty out. Everywhere—

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Members must address their comments to the Chair. I simply want to inform the member that she has only three minutes remaining.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, they are gutting our regions. We had regional ministers who were up to date on what was happening in our regions. Now, we are left with one minister from Toronto. If I talk about a salmon river in Charlevoix, I hope he knows that I am talking about salmon because I am not sure he has travelled very far in Charlevoix.

That is where I have a problem: they are robbing Peter to pay Paul, to make a cute photo, but doing so creates inequality. Our regions are being deprived of ministers who need to be in our regions.

Whether it is in the regions of Quebec, of the Atlantic or of Newfoundland, they are regions. Now, there is just one minister responsible for them. He is in Toronto, and while he certainly may travel, he is not familiar with the regions.

I was looking at the current cabinet list and there are very few people from the regions. Most of them are from urban areas. That means that our regions have been forgotten.

I have nothing against gender equality. I have nothing against equal pay for equal work. A minister of state and a minister do not have the same responsibilities. If we support Bill C-24, not only will ministers and ministers of state be equal, but everyone will ask for equal pay. All the members, critics, and the opposition will want the same salary as those opposite. We will have parity.

As women—I am not minimizing the role of women, far from it—we have already been in government and we had the ear of our prime minister. Today, I will tell you that I am going to vote against this bill, because it is an empty shell.

We are giving the Liberals a blank cheque and we do not know what they want to do with it. There have already been enough scandals on that side of the House. We do not want more of them. The Liberals are still giving money to their friends who do good work for the Liberals, but not necessarily for Canadians.

We are all different in the House: there are Conservatives, NDP members, Liberals, those in the Bloc, the Green Party. However, when we come to the House, we speak for all Canadians; we are not supposed to be partisan.

Today opposition members are being asked to vote on a bill on pay equity for positions with entirely different responsibilities. Pay equity is equal pay for equal work with the same responsibilities. A minister of state and a minister are not the same things. I would hope that women are not being appointed to these positions to fill some sort of quota to achieve parity. It is insulting to women to say that a position is vacant and needs to be filled by a woman to make the pictures look good.

I have never been superficial and I am not going to start now. I am here because I am a woman of character and I can go wherever I want by opening the doors that I want. I will never say “because I am a woman”. I am here because I am qualified to be here.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 8:44 p.m., pursuant to order made on Wednesday, June 7, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to order made Tuesday, May 30, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, June 12, at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Karina Gould LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

moved that Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-50, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act, regarding political financing, which would amend the Canada Elections Act to create an unprecedented level of openness and transparency for political fundraising events.

I first want to recognize my officials for their extraordinary effort in developing, drafting, and refining this important legislation. I thank them for their hard work over the past few months. They are a credit to our public service.

Our government told Canadians we would set a higher bar on the transparency, accountability, and integrity of our public institutions and the democratic process. We have also sent a clear message that we want to encourage Canadians to embrace our democracy.

I have been focused, in particular, on this latter objective since the Prime Minister asked me to be Canada's Minister of Democratic Institutions. This is why our government has moved on several fronts to enshrine a more open and inclusive democracy. We have changed the way we appoint senators and judges, we are making our elections more accessible and inclusive, and we are taking steps to protect our democracy from cyber-threats. We take these actions because we know how deeply Canadians value and cherish our democracy.

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation this year, we can reflect on the work of past generations that have improved, strengthened, and protected Canadian democracy. The challenge facing us is how we, as parliamentarians, can continue to lead this work and fulfill the promise of a strong, stable, vibrant democracy.

The simple but important act of voting is a central part of this discussion. Casting a ballot is a rite of passage in this country. I am sure that many hon. members recall going with their parents to a polling station. Many members will recall bringing their own children with them to vote at their local school, church, community centre, or in one of the many other locations where voting takes place.

In many respects, election day is one of the last true civic rituals that Canadians take part in. It is a day on which we all come together to take part in the democratic process. We wait in the same lines, we follow the same rules, and we exercise the same rights and freedoms.

Today, as Minister of Democratic Institutions, I have a mandate to protect and improve one of the greatest democracies on earth. It is an honour to talk about this in one of the most respected democratic institutions in the world. We know that democracy does not just happen on its own. We all need to contribute to it, and that means more than just voting every four years. Democracy requires our constant attention.

There are many different ways Canadians choose to make a valuable contribution to our democracy. It could be as simple as engaging in a public policy discussion with a friend, joining a community group, participating in a demonstration, or volunteering with a charity. It could also include joining a political party, making a donation to a party, or attending a political fundraiser. Democratic participation and civic engagement are critical to a healthy democracy.

While we believe that we could always do more to raise the bar on openness and transparency in political fundraising, we also respect the right of all Canadians to choose to financially support a party of their choice.

We are celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms this year. Section 3 of that Charter guarantees every citizen the right to vote and to run in a federal election. Section 3 is closely linked to the protection of the freedom of association, which is also provided for in the Charter.

Today in Canada, Canadians and permanent residents have the legitimate right to make a donation to a party and to participate in fundraising activities. All parties of the House receive support for the honest work that they do through the donations and contributions of individuals who believe in and support their work.

It is important to take a step back and look at Canada's political fundraising system as it now stands, even before the changes we are discussing. The Canada Elections Act sets out the legal framework that governs fundraising and campaign financing, and all registered federal political parties are subject to it.

According to Elections Canada, disclosure requirements have existed for candidates since the beginning of the 20th century, but the current regime was essentially laid out with the introduction of political party registration in 1970 and the Election Expenses Act in 1974. Essentially, there have been limits on contribution amounts and on the people through whom Canadians can make donations to federal political parties for the past 43 years.

Today, only individual Canadians and permanent residents can donate. Companies, industry associations, and trade unions cannot give funds to any politician or political party. There is a strict limit on individual contributions. Annually, individuals can donate up to $1,550 to a national political party. They can also donate up to $1,550, combined, to all the riding associations, candidates, or nomination contestants of a party. Finally, if their preferred party is in a leadership contest, an individual can donate up to $1,550, combined, to all the leadership contestants in a leadership race.

Today, there are already a number of different reports and requirements that parties, electoral district associations, candidates, leadership contestants, and others must complete. Elections Canada publishes all financial reports, as well as the identity and postal codes of those donating more than $200 on its website.

It is also important to note that there are strict penalties under the Canada Elections Act to punish anyone violating political financing rules. The penalties could include fines of up to $50,000, or up to five years in jail, or both. Canadians take political fundraising seriously. There are serious consequences for breaking these rules.

It is important to point out that 2% of Canadians are currently members of a party or have made a campaign donation. Not everyone wants to join a political party, but everyone can celebrate the contribution that political parties make to our democracy. These institutions bring together people from across the country, people with diverse perspectives, opinions, backgrounds, and experiences. Some parties might focus on specific issues or concerns, while others might seek to cover a broad range of opinions.

At best, parties can mobilize many people and encourage them to take action on important causes, champion certain ideas, and work hard to convince other people to join them.

Political parties are vital to the discourse that we have in Canada about our democracy. To quote former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci:

Political parties provide individual citizens with an opportunity to express an opinion on the policy and functioning of government.

They are capable of introducing unique concerns into the political discourse. In order to participate in political discourse, parties require funding to operate. As Canadians, we have the right to contribute to a political party that shares our ideals and our aspirations. For many, contributing to a political party and attending a fundraising event is a valued form of democratic expression, and I know all hon. members agree that this is an important right we must continue to respect and uphold.

I believe that a strong democracy does not merely tolerate the exchange of ideas, but rather encourages it. A healthy democracy fosters lively partisan debate that offers ideas and clear choices to people. Canadians can choose to donate to a political party to show their support for that kind of democratic debate. In Bill C-50, we are proposing that people continue to make donations to political parties and do so in a way that is more open and transparent than ever.

If passed, Bill C-50 would provide Canadians with more information about political fundraising events than ever before. It would make our already strong and robust system for political financing even more open and transparent, so that Canadians can continue to have confidence in our democratic institutions. It would ensure that Canadians know who is going to fundraisers, when and where they are happening, and the amount required to attend.

If passed, Bill C-50 will apply to all fundraising activities that cabinet members, party leaders, and leadership candidates take part in when the ticket price is over $200. This will apply only to parties sitting in the House of Commons. The bill will therefore apply to all of Canada's political leaders, across party lines. These are the people who are leading our country and aspire to become prime minister themselves.

Fundraising events involving these individuals would be advertised at least five days in advance. Canadians would know about them before these events take place, giving them an opportunity to inquire about a ticket, if they wish. They would know exactly where and when a fundraiser is happening, who is organizing the event, and which senior political leader or leaders will attend.

Further improving openness and transparency for our political leaders will enhance the trust that Canadians have in our democracy across the political spectrum, and we believe this is a good thing.

Public disclosure of fundraising details offers the added benefit of providing that information to the media, leaving it up to the press whether to cover it or not. I believe, and our government believes, that a free press is essential to our democracy and that a healthy media landscape is necessary for a healthy democracy. Our approach in Bill C-50 is to provide journalists the information they need to choose whether to cover an activity or not and give the political parties the flexibility to set their own rules for providing media access and accreditation.

Political parties would also be required to report the names and addresses of those who attended the fundraiser, within 30 days, to Elections Canada. This information would be published online. Canadians and the media would know who attended a fundraiser, and could hold politicians and attendees more accountable for their actions.

Elections Canada, as the recipient and publisher of so much fundraising information already, is the natural place to collect this new information. Publishing all the information in one non-partisan place would make it easier for Canadians to search for this information. I should add that certain individuals, such as minors, service staff, and volunteers, would be exempt.

The bill would also create a new Elections Act offence for not respecting these rules. Any penalties would be borne by political parties, not the senior political leaders invited to attend the events. The maximum fine we propose for violating the provisions would be $1,000 on summary conviction, and any party that breaks the rules would also have to return the contributions collected at the events.

If passed, Bill C-50 will fulfill our government's promise to make Canada's political financing system much more transparent to the public and the media. This is one of many ways our government is improving, enhancing, and protecting our democratic institutions.

Members of the House know that we also introduced Bill C-33, which, if passed, would repeal undemocratic aspects of what the previous government called the Fair Elections Act. Bill C-33 would make it easier for Canadians to exercise their right to vote. It would also encourage voter turnout, and enhance the public's trust in our electoral system as well as its integrity.

To that end, significant measures will be taken, such as allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to accept voter cards as identification and re-establishing vouching so that eligible voters without identification can prove their identity and place of residence by asking another voter to vouch for them.

Moreover, under the bill, Elections Canada could register young Canadians 14 to 17 to include them in the electoral process at a younger age.

Those are just some examples of the measures our government is taking to ensure that we continue to enhance democratic institutions.

We have also introduced a new merit-based Senate appointments process, as I mentioned. To meet the expectations of Canadians, we developed a process to appoint senators that is more open and transparent than ever before. We established an advisory board for Senate appointments and launched a new, open, non-partisan application process. Now any Canadian can directly apply to become a senator, and since spring 2016, we have appointed 27 senators through this new process. The Senate is an important institution in our democratic system, and our government remains committed to building a more effective and less partisan Senate in partnership with hon. senators and all parliamentarians.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the procedure and House affairs committee, as well as the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee. Both of these committees have been studying the Chief Electoral Officer's report on the 2015 election and will be reporting their recommendations to their respective chambers. Their guidance will be incredibly helpful, as I work with all of our colleagues to continue the important work of improving, strengthening, and protecting our democratic institutions. Bill C-50 is an important example of how we can continue to raise the bar when it comes to our democracy.

Samara Canada recently released a report entitled, “Democracy 360: The Second Report Card on How Canadians Communicate, Participate and Lead in Politics.” The report measures the health of Canada's democracy across 19 different indicators. According to Samara, 71% of Canadians said they are fairly satisfied or very satisfied with how democracy works in Canada. This is six percentage points higher than the first report card in 2015.

Although this report suggests that Canadians have confidence in their democracy, we realize that there is always room for improvement. We therefore introduced Bill C-50 for more open and transparent fundraising activities.

We are shining a light on these types of activities so that Canadians can know and understand what is happening. We are providing them with information on who attends these fundraisers, when and where they are taking place, and how much it costs to participate.

Political fundraising is an important form of democratic expression. Fundraisers are an opportunity for groups of like-minded Canadians to come together and discuss values, opinions, and policy ideas. They also provide Canadians with the opportunity to support a party or individual with whom they share similar perspectives and ideas. We believe it is important to clarify what happens at these fundraising events. Bill C-50 would do so by shining a light on who is attending political fundraisers, where and when they are taking place, and the amount required to attend them. For the first time in Canadian history, our government is legislating and requiring political parties to disclose this information, because Canadians have a right to know even more than they do now about political fundraising events. I think all members of this House can agree that political parties do not have anything to hide. Bill C-50 would ensure that more information than ever before about political fundraisers is shared with the media and the public at large, so that Canadians can continue to have confidence in our democracy.

I am eager to hear the opinions from other members of this House about the bill itself. This is important legislation that affects all of us in this chamber, and I am confident that the hon. members share my desire to provide Canadians with more information about political fundraising events. I look forward to the debate ahead.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, in June, typically we sit late to deal with very important legislation like budget implementation acts, and gender equity, which we have not talked about yet, Bill S-3, that has come from the Senate. Instead tonight, we are sitting here until midnight dealing with two problems that the Prime Minister created himself. We just finished debating one bill in terms of how he had to create equity among his ministers because he said he would have an equitable minister situation, but he actually did not.

We are now debating a bill about political fundraising that is a problem he created but he has not fixed with the bill. It is a bit of razzle-dazzle to say we are going to be more open and transparent, but the bottom line is that he is still going to have those cash for access fundraisers, and that is what the problem was.

I can say with certainty that former prime minister Stephen Harper never had cash for access fundraisers. If there were ever a time when ministers by mistake ended up at an event with stakeholders, they immediately left and paid back the money.

The Liberals have been shameful in their cash for access, and they have introduced the bill and are trying to bamboozle the public by saying they are doing a better job and are going to be open and transparent. They have not fixed the problem, and they should be ashamed.