House of Commons Hansard #257 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-50.

Topics

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the House agree?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing), as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Prior to question period, the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge was very gracious about being interrupted for question period, and he now has three minutes remaining in his speech.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, we certainly would not want to hold up question period, so I was happy to yield at that time.

With the three minutes I have left, I would like to pick up on what I was saying. I was speaking of the background and the history of this legislation, and the issue purported by the Liberals to solve, being that the Liberals are the only party with the problem with fundraising.

The calls to eliminate, to question, and to be concerned about the conflict of interest inherent in cash-for-access fundraising were the reasons for this legislation. The Liberals had to do something. They had to be seen as doing something about a practice that only the Liberal Party party takes part in, so they tabled the bill we are now debating.

As I said before question period, Bill C-50 is not necessary. The government could at any point simply choose not to shake down its own lobbyists and stakeholders for money for the party. It could simply choose to not allow that of members of its own cabinet, who have the power to dispense contracts, to hire people into the public sector, to make judicial appointments, to put out cash to subsidize businesses. A minister of the crown has these powers. Members of the opposition do not have these powers. Leaders of opposition parties do not have these powers. Government backbenchers do not have these powers. A minister of the crown has these powers.

It is the swinging back that we have heard, and I am sure we will hear more in a minute or so, that this is something about anything other than cash-for-access fundraising. It is just silly.

I will conclude by reiterating that I do not intend to support this legislation. To do so would be to lend credibility to a government that is merely seeking cover for a practice that Canadians find odious, that nobody besides members of the opposite party think is okay. I am not going to allow them to use the passage of this legislation to say they have somehow sanitized and legitimized the practice of cash for access.

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3:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, allow me to give a quote from a published news report last year: “Conservative leader [the leader of the Conservative Party], whose party attacked the Liberal government for months for holding cash-for-access fundraisers, says he won't post details of his own private fundraising events.” This was at one particular private fundraising event with real estate and business executives in the Toronto area. The Conservatives initially denied that the event even took place, but, when found out, they said their leader was not going to publish that information. Later on in the story, he said, “I'll continue to follow every single law that Elections Canada has on these types of issues..”.

This legislation would compel the leader of the official opposition, who would like to be prime minister some day, to demonstrate transparency, to show that Canadians have the right to understand who is attending the Conservative leader's fundraisers.

Is the real reason that the Conservatives are going to vote against this legislation because they do not believe their leader should have to share that information with Canadians?

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3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the disingenuity of that member knows no bounds.

Under existing law, the names of those who contribute $200 or more are published. We already know that. The existing law requires transparency on fundraising. This legislation is completely unnecessary when it comes to revealing the identities of those who contribute over $200 to a political party.

By his own admission, the present Prime Minister is a ceremonial prime minister. He does not do the job of executive office; his office does it for him. It has the power over contracts, of appointments, the power to dispense patronage, and the power to dispense subsidies. Those are the powers of a prime minister, and that is why they need to be held to a higher standard, without cash for—

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3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Victoria.

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3:25 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. gentleman from Calgary if he shares my concern that Canadians might be tricked by the government's bill. They might think that having “transparency” is somehow the same as getting rid of the odious practice of cash for access, “pay-to-play”, as some of his colleagues have called it. They might be confused by the government calling out, as one of the members just did, the opposition leader, and acquainting his or her access to that of the Prime Minister or a cabinet minister, or others, whom I think we would agree have slightly different roles to play. I wonder if he shares my fear.

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3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do share some of those concerns, although the bigger concern I have is that by buying into their statement that this is some grand transparency bill and by voting for it, we would lend legitimacy to it. My hon. friend, in our exchange on Friday, said that he did not want to be seen as voting against apple pie. However, if someone orders apple pie and the server brings them a baloney sandwich and calls it apple pie, they send it back.

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3:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask my colleague to try to read a Liberal's mind and figure out the real motivation behind this bill. I apologize in advance if he is unable to do so.

Does my colleague believe that, at the end of the day, the Liberals figured that Canadians were upset about events such as those granting privileged access to ministers and the Prime Minister and decided to do something about it? They like those events so much that the only thing they could think of was to advertise them just a little more.

Does my colleague believe that that was the Liberals' train of thought? Instead of ending the practice, they simply decided to make it a little more transparent.

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3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I assume they do not simply end the practice because they are addicted to the money that they raise. It is a successful practice.

Second, they do not get conflict of interest. We have seen this from the Prime Minister. He has breached the act in four places, and they act like nothing is wrong with that. They make a mockery of their statements on open and transparent government that insists all members govern themselves to a standard that is beyond reproach, and yet cling to talking points. The member may recall, for months they said no laws were broken, that they technically were not doing anything wrong.

I do not know what to say. I would not presume to try to assume the mentality or try to understand how they come to these conclusions. However, make no mistake, the bill is just cover for cash for access.

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3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is a really interesting bill. It is a really interesting topic.

I am often asked by colleagues around the world what makes the Canadian system different from electoral systems such as the one in the U.S. One of the great things about Canada's electoral system is that we actually do not have the same sort of strain or pressure on us from corporate interests or wealthy donors as we see in the U.S. I certainly would not want to be in the same position as some of our legislative colleagues in the U.S., given that they spend a lot of their time fundraising. I think that is ridiculous. I like to be able to use my time to actually legislate rather than spend all my time figuring out which donor I have to acquiesce to in order to take certain positions on bills or votes, as we see in other legislative systems.

The fact that we have caps on how much people can spend in an election is very important. The individual cap level is a wonderful way to level the playing field to get people to enter politics, such as under-represented groups such as women, as one example. Also, it is important to note that we do not have the corporate influence in the same way we see in other countries.

The Minister of Democratic Institutions, who is new in her role, had the opportunity to table a bill on electoral financing reform. She could have tabled anything she wanted. She could have tabled something that could materially impact Canadian democracy, allow under-represented groups to enter, or further level the playing field, but she completely failed.

The reason I will not support this bill is that it does not address what I think is the biggest concern in political financing in Canada, and that is the major loophole that allows wealthy individuals, corporations, unions, and foreign influences to influence the outcome of our elections. The minister has done nothing to stop that.

This should concern not just my party or the Liberals. Everyone here should be concerned about this loophole the Minister of Democratic Institutions has done nothing to address, which is the loophole that allows corporate interests and foreign groups to register as third parties in Canada. They can essentially take money from anywhere, without any reporting standards, and influence the electoral outcome.

It is very difficult to do research on this, but in preparation for this speech, I did.

For political party electoral district associations, individual donations are capped at approximately $1,500 per year, corporate donations are banned, and there are strict spending limits, and even stricter reporting requirements. The system levels the playing field for traditionally under-represented groups, such as women. I also believe that it gives our electoral system integrity. It also prevents access and influence on the political system from being in the hands of the wealthy, corporate interests, and special interest groups. It is important, because it also limits the scope and ability of special interest groups to directly impact elections through spending. However, there is a significant loophole in this process.

In Canada, an individual corporation or group can register as a third party for election advertising purposes and then make expenses to “promote or oppose the election of one or more candidates”. As opposed to the law for financing political parties or candidates, corporations can spend money on elections via this route. Corporations can therefore influence candidates. Also, there are no limits on the donations a group can receive from an individual. Individuals can, therefore, in effect, exceed their political spending limits and influence the outcome of elections.

Further, a third party has to register with Elections Canada only once an election is called, which makes it difficult to track the activities of a group with regard to its influence on our electoral process. Also, it only has to report donations that come in during the six-month period prior to an election being called, which means that in many cases, the public has no way of knowing where its money came from. In addition, there is no requirement to state which candidate a third party promoted or opposed, making it difficult for the public to know if members of Parliament are compliant with ethics guidelines on conflict of interest.

This is the part that is difficult to research. I manually tabulated all of this. In the 2015 federal election, over $6 million was spent by third parties on election advertising. To put the significance of that amount into perspective, the entire election spending, per Elections Canada, for the Green Party of Canada was approximately $3.9 million. Moreover, for individuals listed as contributors to third-party election advertising spending, many also contributed to federal political parties or local electoral district associations.

I would like to present an example from the riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. There was an individual in that riding named Michelle Good. If we pull up her donor profile from Elections Canada, this individual donated significantly to the federal Liberal Party. However, she also donated significantly to the New Democratic Party. We can look at that. For example, I am looking at one instance when this individual, on September 6, 2015, donated $400 to the New Democratic Party.

Here is the interesting thing. There is also a third party, registered under a Michelle Frances Good, that spent $2,363.29 to advertise in Kamloops during the election period. This is just me looking at what I can find online. However, I would surmise that it is the same Michelle Good who contributed to the Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo federal NDP riding association and then registered as a third party and spent $2,300 to purchase advertising under this third-party group. How does that happen? I thought we were only supposed to be able to pay $1,500 a person to participate in the federal electoral process.

I bet that I could find people registered as their names and find their donations, and sure enough, there they were. That $2300 is a lot of money. Someone who does not have access to that level of funding does not have the access this person has to influence the outcome of an election. When we start thinking about $2,300, $3,000, or $4,000, while that does not seem like a lot, it actually is a lot in the context of the overall spending in that particular district.

What if I had said that the Koch brothers had registered as a third party. That would get the attention of a lot of people here. The reality is that because trade unions and environmental NGOs have taken care of this loophole, the Minister of Democratic Institutions has completely ignored it.

I will say one thing. Once people realize that this loophole exists, all gloves are off. If the Liberals do not address this problem, what I worry about is that everyone here is going to say that we all have to use PACs to get elected. All of a sudden, that uniquely Canadian “I can focus on my legislation instead of fundraising” goes away.

The minister came in with a fresh, new hope-and-change mandate from the Prime Minister. If the Liberals know that this happens and did not even look at it or touch it, then mark my words: after the next election, this place is going to be looking at this and saying that I had a point.

I would hope that my colleagues would all be in agreement and put aside partisanship and say that we do not want PACs in Canada. The example I gave should not happen. Closing this loophole should be in this legislation. Reporting donations for these third parties needs to happen. Reporting the purpose of electoral advertising needs to happen. Prohibiting donations from entities other than individuals needs to happen. We need to prohibit individuals from using third-party registration status to circumvent the cap on individual donations.

Why is that not in this legislation? It is a glaring loophole that will have a huge impact on our democratic system. It already has with that $6 million. We do not even know where it came from or what it was used for. How can we tolerate that? That is the antithesis of democracy, and it is not in the bill.

The bill is a waste of time. It is not going to change the behaviour of the Liberals. What I am talking about would, and I have no idea why it is not in there.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the timing of the introduction of Bill C-50 was interesting in that it fell right as the Liberals were breaking their promise on electoral reform. It is the bait and switch of a party that was looking to get out from underneath the burden of having promised something and then blatantly betraying that promise.

One would wonder where this came from. The bill was born from the allegations, which I think were quite correct, that the Prime Minister and many of his cabinet ministers were finding themselves in an obvious, to everyone else, conflict of interest. We had the justice minister meeting with high-priced Bay Street lawyers, fundraising. We had the finance minister meeting with members of the financial industry, who have interests in his department. These were not just meetings. They were fundraising events. They were $1,500- and $1,200-a-person fundraising events.

If we all remember the Prime Minister's own much-vaunted mandate letters to his cabinet, which applied to him as well, not only could his cabinet ministers not find themselves in a conflict of interest, they could not even place themselves in the appearance of a conflict of interest. It is somewhat ironic now, because the author of those mandate letters broke our conflict of interest rules.

Bill C-50 does what the law already prescribes, which is that we have to make things public, but it does not do anything about cash for access, nor the appearance of or an actual conflict of interest. Is there any hope in the legislation that future fundraising events by the government would not create the same dynamic, the same scenario of ministers being lobbied and donated to by people who have self-serving interests?

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3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I actually thought of my colleague last week, when, in a town hall meeting, the Prime Minister said, in response to a question on whether he would ever entertain questions on democratic reform or change the voting system, he said yes, as long as it was not proportional representation and a ranked ballot system. As long as it is him as a dictator defining what Canada's democracy looks like, he is good with it. It is that tone that would probably answer my colleague's question as to why the bill was introduced.

What is going to happen with this? Honestly, I think the system is going to get worse, because we have not addressed this glaring, huge loophole in our political financing system. Six million dollars entered the Canadian system, which I am sure any of my American colleagues would say they have to fundraise in five minutes, but that is a lot of money in the Canadian political context. Now that people are aware of it, it is only going to get worse. The bill should have dealt with that loophole. This is going to have a huge impact on the next election, and not for the better.

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3:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we need to understand exactly what the bill is proposing to do. In essence, it would provide more transparency and more accountability. No matter how the Conservatives, and at times, the NDP work together to try to critique a piece of legislation, that is the essence of what it would do. Whether it is the Prime Minister, a cabinet minister, or a leader of a political party, if people attended an event where they paid in excess of $200 to be in the presence of those individuals, there would be a responsibility to report those names to Elections Canada in a timely fashion. There would be more transparency and more accountability. Even the former ethics commissioner, Mary Dawson, said that this would be a step forward.

All of what the member wants to see in future legislation is wonderful. I wish her well in getting it. However, with respect to this specific bill, would she not agree that it is a positive step forward?

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3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the bill would, frankly, put lipstick on the Liberal's cash for access pig. The bill would do nothing to change the fact that if the Prime Minister wanted to charge $1,500 for access to him, he could still talk about government business with these people. There would be no significant change.

My problem with the bill is actually encapsulated best in a quote from my colleague opposite. This was after he was asked about the cash for access scandal when it first broke. He said, “When one is following the laws, there cannot be a conflict of interest.”

Frankly, it is about judgment. People in Canada cannot afford to pay $1,500 to have access to top legislators. That is not right, and the bill would still allow it. It would allow the Liberals to keep their fundraising model. It would also allow the Liberals to keep the loophole open while at the same time saying, “Hope and change. Democracy is alive in Canada. Everything is wonderful.” It is actually such a waste of time. Why are we even debating the bill? It does not do anything. All it does is allow the Liberals to keep on with their bad behaviour, and Canadians are tired of it.

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3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, if we want to get to the real intentions behind government legislation, it never hurts to consider where it is coming from: its background, its history, and the circumstances surrounding it.

As my great-grandmother would say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. The government was caught red-handed holding private events offering privileged access to the Prime Minister. Now, it thinks it can make these events more palatable by advertising them to major lobbies with the means to pay $1,500 to discuss their agendas, but advertising them does not make them any less private. The Prime Minister met with Chinese-Canadian billionaires, for instance, and all of a sudden he got a total of $70,000, in $1,500 increments, for his riding of Papineau, even though the reception was held 5,000 kilometres away in Vancouver.

The government thinks that advertising these events will make them fairer and more palatable, but the morally reprehensible part is that one can pay to get privileged access to the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Citizens, voters, and the 61% of voters who did not vote for the current government, will surely view this so-called change with greater cynicism after hearing today's debate. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

What will cause even more cynicism—and I see my colleague who sat on the committee with me—is that a year ago, on February 1, 2017, the committee tabled a report that it would have liked to see become a bill. Instead, that report was scrapped. I am talking about the report of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform regarding the complete overhaul of the Canada Elections Act that was supposed to take place. The government spent millions of dollars to consult voters across the country, and we thought that the outcome was that Canadians wanted more fairness when it comes to electoral representation and election financing.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley, former chief electoral officer, appeared before the Special Committee on Electoral Reform. In response to one of my questions, he responded without hesitation that, in the interest of fairness, the per-vote subsidy need to be restored. We are very open to that, regardless of the amount. We know that former prime minister Jean Chrétien set up a public funding system under which the parties received $2 per vote. I imagine that he wanted to leave a legacy other than the sponsorship scandal that characterized the Liberals' time in office. Jean-Pierre Kingsley indicated that, in the interest of fairness, that system should be restored as soon as possible.

Why? It is a shame that Bill C-50 does not make any mention of that.

Bill C-50 is just a superficial attempt to make up for getting caught holding cash for access fundraisers. Now everyone has to advertise their little $1,500 fundraising soirées.

Mr. Kingsley said that electoral fairness is part and parcel of living in a democratic society. Even a party that does not have 20 or 60 MPs should have the right to a fair hearing in the democratic debate between elections and from the get-go in an election.

Taxpayers do not have $1,500 to donate to political parties. I would like to know what the average donation to the Liberals and the Conservatives is. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Why is that? When the current governing party was in opposition, it said it would restore fair financing to take big-ticket financing out of the hands of lobby groups. When people meet a prime minister at an exclusive get-together, they are not there for his good looks or his campaign platform.

They are there for a specific purpose, and that purpose is what people are up in arms about. I think $1.75 per ballot would make every voter's democratic participation more meaningful. That is what democratic reform was all about. The whole idea behind changing the electoral system came from the fact that most of the witnesses told us the existing system is not fair and does not promote diversity of representation in the House of Commons. The current system is set up for a bipartisan House, one with two big parties. That is the plain truth. We think every vote should count.

The government broke its promise. It was a year ago to the day, last Thursday, February 1. We marked the occasion, but a broken promise is nothing to celebrate. The government broke its promise and decided to keep the same system, but it is not reinstating the per-vote subsidy. That would have allowed voters to meaningfully vote for any of the parties, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, or the Green Party, regardless of how likely that party was to win in the riding. That is the issue, and that is what has voters frustrated. They feel like their vote does not count. Historically, it is always the same party that wins in their ridings. There was also concern about voter turnout.

I know that my vote is not totally wasted, even though this government broke its promise to change the voting system. The minimum of fairness that we can ask of such a system is that it ensure that my vote for the Green Party allows it to continue participating in the democratic debate between elections and that it be allocated, in a fair manner, enough money to have its voice heard in an election. That is a democracy worthy of the name. This is about having a legitimate democracy, rather than seeing alternating governments cater to the interests of people seeking access to it in order to influence its decision-making and then thrust upon us bills that benefit those people. That is what is being debated today.

My colleague from Terrebonne introduced a bill. We would be pleased to see the government include its provisions in Bill C-50, restore the per-vote subsidy, and lower the contribution limit to at least $500. I invite all my colleagues to think about this possibility.

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3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to focus on two initiatives the bill is supportive of in an effort to increase openness and transparency. That is what our government has promised, and that is what our government will deliver in the bill.

The first is with reference to political party websites. At least five days prior to events attended by ministers or the Prime Minister, the party's website would need to make it known to people. This would give open notice that these events would be taking place. Also, the report of the attendees to Elections Canada would need to be made within 30 days so everyone would be aware of who was at the event, if the event was more than $200.

In my view, this will provide Canadians with openness and transparency about who attends these fundraisers. This is a very important initiative from our government. I would like to hear what the hon. member has to say with respect to these two initiatives in particular.

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3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, we oppose this bill not because of what is in the bill, but rather because of what is not in the bill. We will not support it.

The government claims to want to change the democratic institutions, but it is breaking its promise. Since they were caught with their pants down, as my grandfather would say, they suddenly decided to make some cosmetic changes to improve financing. Does this problem become ethically acceptable if the access to the Prime Minister is legalized? This is the fundamental issue here.

We have nothing against advertising something. In fact, I advertised my most recent fundraising event in the papers. Tickets to the event cost $125, which is an amount people may be able to pay, with a tax rebate. It was not $1,500. The Bloc Québécois does not see anything worthwhile in this bill, which is why we will vote against this supposed improvement to the Canada Elections Act.

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3:55 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks. I am wondering whether he thinks that expectations were high. Given what the Liberals said during the last election campaign, most Canadians had very high expectations regarding electoral reform and our democratic institutions in general. However, things are done very differently here in Ottawa.

What does my colleague think about the government's record on this issue to date and does he think that the government will be able to do better with regard to democratic institutions between now and 2019? The Liberal Party's only legacy over its four and a half years in office will be Bill C-50.

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3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would take me a good 20 minutes to answer that question. I would give the government a zero out of 10 for how well it has done so far. I hope that the government will get its act together and show a little less contempt for the 60% of voters who did not vote Liberal.

On the issue of committee work, the first thing this so-called democratic government should do is allow all duly elected MPs to participate. Just because we do not have 12 members and are not part of an official caucus does not mean that we do not have anything to say in committee. Nevertheless, we are automatically excluded.

This government wanted to change the procedure at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, but it excluded us from the debate. It did not change the procedure regarding respect for duly elected members, including members of the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois, for example. It is as though that party has a monopoly on deciding what kind of parliamentary democracy we have in the House. In the whole Westminster system, in the entire Commonwealth, this is the only Parliament that operates in this way. It is appalling. It is also part of its agenda. It is unacceptable. If parliamentarians are not allowed to speak, if they are not allowed to vote in committee, where the real action takes place, how are they supposed to represent their constituents?

I had to ask another party to loan me these short 10 minutes I have today so that I could have my say in a debate that will last hours. There are other times, however, when I am not so lucky; when the government uses closure, we cannot speak at all.

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4 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-50. I am deeply concerned with this bill and by the unethical behaviour that is demonstrated by the current government, opposite to me.

The piece of legislation before the House is in fact a poor attempt to appease Canadians after the Liberals were caught and called out for holding numerous so-called town hall meetings, or meet and greets, with the Prime Minister or other members of the cabinet.

These were parties where individuals who wanted to attend were expected to pay upward of $1,500 or more in order to get through the door. These parties were held with elite people, like the finance minister, the Prime Minister, the justice minister, and the list goes on.

I can just imagine the price chart at the door when people walk in: $1,200 for 30 seconds with the Prime Minister; $1,500 for 60 seconds with the Prime Minister. Maybe a group of 10 people who are each willing to pitch in $1,500 would get a whopping two minutes of the Prime Minister's time all to themselves. The selfies are complimentary, of course.

Apparently this is the Liberals' way of consulting in an open, accessible, and transparent manner. These are the types of buzzwords they like to use all the time to describe the work they do. However, I stand here today to use my voice on behalf of millions of Canadians who believe otherwise, Canadians who are actually frustrated with the elitism and the hypocrisy that is demonstrated day in and day out by the current government.

The Liberal government has said that it tabled this legislation in order to make its cash for access events more transparent. What the Liberals fail to understand is that these fundraisers in their very essence are unethical. Changing the rules that surround them does not change the fact that they are altogether wrong.

This legislation does nothing to condemn the use of power and manipulation to draw money out of people for the sake of privileged access. This legislation simply seeks to ensure that the Canadian public is made aware of such elite activities.

Bill C-50 simply proposes that all fundraising events that are attended by ministers, party leaders, or leadership candidates are advertised at least five days in advance. In effect, the Liberals are mandating to themselves that they must advertise their events. That is an interesting measure of accountability. It also requires political parties to report to Elections Canada the names of those who attend. However, anyone who donates over $200 already has to have their name made known.

All in all, this bill does nothing to ensure that ministers and the Prime Minister are accessible to all Canadians equally, which is, in essence, a key component of a democratic system. The Liberals are still granting themselves permission to hold cash for access events that cater to the elite and prevent common Canadians from having a voice.

Justin Trudeau claims that he is listening to everyone, that he is—

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4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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4 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I would just remind the hon. member to refer to members in the House either by their title or perhaps their riding name.

The hon. member for Lethbridge.