Madam Speaker, it is a great honour, on behalf of the people of the riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, who work hard, play by the rules and pay their taxes, to conclude the debate on Bill C-278.
Bill C-278, which would amend the Lobbying Act, would require lobbyists to disclose whether they are funded by a foreign national, a non-resident corporation or a non-resident organization and whether they use, or expect to use, grassroots communication to seek to persuade organizations or members of the public to take measures to obstruct, delay or otherwise negatively affect any process that requires the Government of Canada to consult with the public before embarking on a specific course of action, in an attempt to place pressure on a public office holder to endorse a particular option.
It is ironic that on this day, Parliament is debating allegations of political interference by the Prime Minister in relation to the trial of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. Bill C-278 seeks to strengthen our democratic institutions from foreign influence. The controversial figure in those corruption allegations is Scott Brison, whose resignation from the Liberal cabinet is the excuse used to somehow justify how this fake feminist Prime Minister mistreats principled female members of Parliament.
I mentioned the controversial ex-cabinet minister in the context of Bill C-76, which she sponsored in the House. Bill C-76 is a regressive piece of legislation that very controversially removes the Commissioner of Canada Elections from the independent office of public prosecution. The independence of that office has proven its worth in the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal. What Bill C-76 also does is implement a section on foreign influence and the threat that influence poses for the democratic process in Canada. Most controversially, what government legislation Bill C-76 does not do is address the same threat between elections. Bill C-278 would fill that legislative oversight.
Bill C-278 would require transparency from foreign-funding sources. Canadians have a right to know who is trying to influence their opinions. Bill C-76 brings in a new provision that would prohibit the distribution of material intended to mislead the public as to its source. While Bill C-76 claims to be closing the loophole that has allowed foreign entities to spend money in Canadian elections, the government is allowing the biggest loophole to remain open by not identifying who these same foreign entities they will now prohibit are and what they are spending to influence Canadians between elections.
Andrew Coyne, of the National Post, wrote, which I think is worth repeating:
But let’s examine those much-hyped measures to “protect and defend” Canadian democracy. For example, we are told the bill will prohibit foreign entities “from spending any money to influence elections.” Wonderful, you say: how much were they allowed to spend until now? Er, $500.
But then, the real scandal, to borrow Michael Kinsley’s phrase, is not what is illegal—direct foreign spending on Canadian elections—but what’s legal: foreign money, by the millions, funneled through Canadian intermediaries, which pass it on to domestic advocacy groups to spend.
For the upcoming election, the government has stated that it is running on the carbon tax and man-made global warming. The government owes it to Canadians to provide information to Canadians about the environment in an unbiased way. That means free from foreign money.
In Canada's most recent reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Environment and Climate Change Canada listed over 300 existing federal programs and other measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Natural Resources Canada website recently listed an additional 280 programs and measures implemented by provincial and territorial governments. That is a large sum of taxpayers' dollars being spent and has caused the Canadian deficit to skyrocket.
The announced goal of Canadian climate policy is to reduce national emissions by 30% from 2010 levels by 2030 and then to go on reducing them to perhaps 50% of 2010 levels by 2050. That would mean a massive and costly transformation of the Canadian economy and a sharp reduction in transportation use and resource industry activity, with devastating consequences for consumers in provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Emissions reductions of that magnitude will not be achieved at low or moderate carbon tax levels. The taxes would need to be high enough to shut down entire industries.
Let us have an honest discussion about this policy, free from foreign money looking to cash in on Canadian climate programs.
In closing, I thank all members who participated in this debate and I look forward to a more detailed examination of Bill C-278 at committee.