House of Commons Hansard #342 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was community.

Topics

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that my hon. colleague and I can agree on the contents of the bill and its importance to Canadians. Therefore, I would urge all members, particularly the New Democrats, to support us in this effort to ensure that we are doing what is right for Canadians.

His comments also allow me to take a moment to thank my hon. colleague, the President of the Treasury Board, who stepped into this portfolio while I had my first child and I took brief maternity leave. I am very grateful to him taking on part of this responsibility. I am very appreciative of all the colleagues in the House who were able to support me in this process.

I am very excited about the forward momentum this piece of legislation has. I am encouraged that we will work together, particularly with my colleagues from the New Democratic Party, to ensure that this bill is in place ahead of the next election and that we can assure Canadians that their elections will be safeguarded, protected, and will have the integrity we all expect and trust to have in our democracy.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, returning to the matter right now, namely the time allocation motion, how on earth could the current government possibly justify invoking time allocation on a democratic reform bill that has a number of amendments to be debated in the House? Voters send their members of Parliament here to be their voice. Therefore, how can the Liberals possibly justify bringing time allocation on a democratic reform bill with substantial amendments to be debated?

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic to hear that from my colleague across the way, because when his party was in government it used time allocation to move forward a piece of legislation that further limited democracy.

What is also of note is that since this bill was introduced, the official opposition has taken every opportunity possible to obstruct the progress of this piece of legislation. Even yesterday it put forward 177 spurious amendments that would return this piece of legislation to what was in Bill C-23, which, as we heard from experts and Canadians across the country, limited people's ability to participate in democracy.

This piece of legislation is incredibly important. It expands the franchise. It ensures that every Canadian citizen who has the right to vote will be able to vote.

On this side of the House, we firmly believe that our democracy is strongest when all Canadians participate in it. I understand that that is not the case with my colleagues on the opposite side. However, for us, democracy should be available to all Canadians and we are working diligently to ensure that is the case in 2019.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Windsor—Tecumseh, Canadians see right through this. We call it “Eddie Haskell politics”, because what we have here are a lot of smiling faces and earnest declarations, as the minister just said, to ensure that we are doing what is right. Therefore, let us make it clear. After a mere two hours of debate, the current government has called time allocation on an exercise of electoral reform that every Canadian has a vested interest in, no matter their age, because of the legacy of it. I just wanted to make that clear to Canadians.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to know that the New Democrats support the principles and clauses in this bill. We look forward to working with them to ensure that this can be in place for the 2019 election, because we share so many of the important values that underpin this legislation. I know that we all want this to be in place so that it will benefit all Canadians ahead of 2019.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleagues on this side of the House have addressed the fact that this piece of legislation has come to the House extraordinarily and unacceptably late. This should have been presented a year ago. The fact that it was so clumsily assembled is reflected in the fact that the Liberal government put forward almost six dozen amendments of its own to try to correct this clumsily written piece of legislation. Now, after only two and a half speeches by members on the opposition side of the House on this deeply flawed bill, the government has imposed the legislative guillotine of time allocation, enabled by its parliamentary majority, to cut off debate.

I know that my hon. colleagues on the government side of the House love to invoke Peter Van Loan's name. However, when this same legislation was passed by the previous government, our Harper government, a very similar piece of legislation from which, regrettably, many elements have been stripped in Bill C-76, there were many more hours and days of debate than are being allowed here today. Only three opposition speakers have risen on this side of the House and, all of a sudden, time allocation has been imposed.

How can the current government possibly look Canadians in the face with any sort of respect and say that it is working to properly defend the Canadian electoral process?

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the irony of those comments by my colleague is that even if they allowed many more hours of debate, they did not accept any amendments that would actually have improve the bill to ensure that more Canadians would able to vote. In fact, they did none of that. They did not accept amendments and made it more difficult for Canadians to participate in our electoral process, which is something that this bill undoes, and rightfully so.

With regard to amendments that were made at committee, these came from all political parties. That is is very important. Furthermore, the amendments introduced by by the government side were based on recommendations by the CEO of Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections to strengthen provisions in the bill. On this side of the House, we respect our independent officers of Parliament and we appreciate their advice in this process. That is exactly what we did following the intense study that was undertaken at committee and the advice of those independent officers of Parliament.

Therefore, I think that all Canadians can rest assured that this bill does good things for democracy. In fact, the CEO and the commissioner have both called for its speedy implementation to ensure that they have the necessary tools, which I might add are expansive for the commissioner but enable him both to compel testimony and prosecute these issues. Those tools would have been useful in previous scandals, which the other side of the House is quite familiar with when it comes to elections.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, talking about respect for the independent officers of Parliament and respect for the Chief Electoral Officer and the commissioner, both of them testified at committee that there are no privacy rules governing political parties in this bill, that there is one deep flaw in this bill, that political parties need to be subject to some sort of privacy rules.

My friend from Toronto would know well that all Bill C-76 says is that the parties have to put some kind of policy on their websites somewhere. The policy does not have to be enforceable. The policy does not actually have to protect Canadians' data and the integrity of our elections. They just seem to have one.

I have a very specific question for the minister. I know she prides herself on answering questions directly. Can she point to a single bit of evidence of a witness before committee saying that Bill C-76, as drawn up with regard to privacy, is sufficient? I can point to the Chief Electoral Officer, whom the minister just said she respects, and I can point to the Privacy Commissioner, whom she said she respects, and I can point to the privacy and ethics committee, which has studied this question already and has recommended, as my friend would know, that privacy should apply to political parties, including Liberals on that committee, and the Liberal sitting right beside her.

Therefore, my question is this. If Bill C-76 is our once-in-a-generation legislation to make sure that our elections are free and fair and that in order to do that there must be enforceable rules applied to all political parties that would allow the Privacy Commissioner to review and chastise those parties that break those rules—which is so fundamental to Canadians being able to cast a vote in a free and fair election and that experts from England and the United States said that if they had to do it over again, they would have had stronger privacy rules—why is the minister, with this bill, telling Canadians that when we go to vote in 2019, foreign influence, hacking our systems, and going after data from the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP will be allowed under this bill she is forcing through Parliament, contrary to their promises in previous Parliaments?

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I have said to my colleague numerous times at committee and outside this House, I do believe that Bill C-76 takes an important first step when it comes to privacy, by requiring political parties to publicly post a privacy policy statement on their websites.

When we talk about concrete action and facts, shortly after Bill C-76 was introduced, the New Democratic Party actually changed their public privacy policy statement. Thus, it actually did have an effect, because prior to that there was a very weak policy statement on the New Democrat website. This will enable Canadians to look at what those privacy policies are.

In regard to enforceability, it is important to note that if a political party does not post a privacy policy, it could in fact be deregistered by Elections Canada, which is quite a significant stick.

I have also said to my hon. colleague numerous times that I think this particular issue requires more study. I am not opposed to a privacy regime for political parties. However, I think that we need to determine what exactly that would looks like in a way that political parties could conduct the important work they do in engaging with Canadians while also protecting their privacy.

When it comes to foreign interference, this bill does many important things and takes many important steps to safeguard Canadian information, to understand where influence and interference are coming from and to provide greater transparency for Canadians.

We can be very proud of this legislation and the important steps it takes ahead of 2019.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for laying out the facts and putting them on the table. The reality is that the bill was held up at committee. It was filibustered by the Conservatives. When it came to the House yesterday, we had 178 amendments read one-by-one, which wasted another hour and 15 minutes. However, the Conservatives will go on and on about how they do not have an opportunity to debate this.

Could the minister help to shed some light on the process the bill has gone through and how it has been slowed down along the way to get to where it is today?

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question sheds light on the process that has taken place since the bill was introduced, particularly by my colleagues from the official opposition, who at every single opportunity tried to obstruct and slow down the progress of the bill. In fact, since they completed their study of witnesses in June, every time the government members would try to move to clause-by-clause, they threatened or moved to filibuster. They took every opportunity to slow down the progress, as was seen yesterday when they introduced 177 amendments after the committee went through clause-by-clause. That was in addition to the hundreds of amendments they had put forward. The media reported that what they were doing looked like obstruction at committee and in this place.

I thank my hon. colleague for raising that. It is quite clear that the official opposition members do not want the bill to proceed because they do not believe that every Canadian who has the right to vote should cast that ballot.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, apparently the Liberals think they can propose bills that are 200 to 400 pages long and then they get to decide how many amendments from the opposition are too many. Maybe if they did not put forward omnibus bills, we would not move as many amendments.

The minister seems not to know that the voter turnout went up dramatically in the last election. Therefore, if there were a bill that would disenfranchise Canadians, and we might all have different explanations for why that turnout, clearly the new elections law in no way obstructed that dramatic increase in the number of people who participated.

I would like to ask the minister about foreign interference in our elections. The elections bill that she has put forward puts in place no meaningful barriers to foreign interference in elections. It would allow external agents and entities to send money to Canadian organizations before an election, which could then be used during an election. There are no meaningful provisions to prevent the transfer of funds before an election, which will then be mingled with local funds and used to influence the direction of the election.

Why did the minister not put meaningful measures in the bill to prevent foreign interference in elections?

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I first would like to begin by addressing the huff and bluster from my colleague on the opposition side. If we look at the amendments the members put forward, they are with regard to deleting important provisions like vouching, deleting important provisions that would prevent Canadians from casting their ballots, deleting provisions that would enable Canadians to participate in our elections.

The hypocrisy and the irony from that side is unbelievable. I would invite Canadians to look at the amendments put forward yesterday. When they read through them, they will come to an agreement with us, to ensure the bill gets passed, and they will know who is protecting Canadian democracy and working hard to ensure it is accessible, fair and the process has its integrity.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

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

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation MotionElections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #906

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to see the clock at 5:30 p.m.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.