Madam Speaker, I would like to address a number of the points my colleague across the way raised this evening.
The first is something we do not do enough, which is to recognize the incredible role Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections play in ensuring one our fundamental pillars of democracy is healthy. I would argue that it is envied around the world.
People from many countries around the world come and visit our election officials. Apolitical election officials are often requested to visit numerous countries so they can explain why Canada has been as successful as it has been over the years at ensuring it has a very healthy and vibrant democracy.
I appreciate and recognize the importance of the independent offices, whether it is the Ethics Commissioner, or the ombudsman or Elections Canada. We appreciate their contribution to our system of parliamentary procedures and democracy as a whole.
One of the most interesting comments I heard about the bill was by the parliamentary secretary, and members should take note of it.
A great deal of effort was put into bringing forward Bill C-76. When it was debated at second reading, we clearly indicated that if members had ideas on how to improve the legislation, they should bring them to committee. We often hear that from this side of the House, something we never heard when Stephen Harper was prime minister. The Prime Minister and other members have talked about bringing issues to committee.
In fact, there were a number of ideas raised at committee. It was interesting that the parliamentary secretary made reference to Bill C-76. The original bill only prohibited the use of foreign funds during an election period. However, once it went to the procedure and House affairs committee, amendments were put forward to make it illegal for third party to use foreign funding at any time to engage in partisan activities.
This brings it in line with what Bill C-406 proposes. It is not a perfect alignment, as has been pointed out. The opposition believes that if we pass a law here, we will have no issues in implementing it outside Canada's jurisdiction. That is questionable.
What Bill C-406 hopes to achieve was achieved by Bill C-76. There was debate and presentations were made at committee to enhance the bill and make it stronger. This should have been taken into consideration with respect to the bill before us now.
I have been around for a number of years. I can remember the legislation that was brought in by former prime minister Stephen Harper in regard to reforming the Canada Elections Act and the incredible resistance to the changes that the Harper government received. There was very little support for the legislation. There was a great deal of opposition from political parties. More importantly, many different political stakeholders in Canada, whether they were academics or average citizens, were talking about issues such as the identification cards and how people were being disenfranchised and so forth. That was the type of legislation that Stephen Harper brought in when he was Prime Minister.
As to the support that we have for Bill C-76, and when I say “we” I am referring to something more than just the Liberal Party or the Government of Canada, there was widespread support for many of the changes for the modernization of our elections act. It received wide support.
I talked about changes at committee stage then and it fell on deaf ears. Today we have a government that is committed to more transparency and more accountability, especially when we talk about the issue of elections—