Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak against this legislation. Unless otherwise amended by members from all parties and approved by members from all parties, it will turn out to be a bad piece of legislation. This legislation is being pushed through the House in order to suppress debate and yet again, time allocation has been invoked. Shame on the government for cutting off debate.
There have been over 60 time allocations in six years. That is the Liberal record, which is about double the Mulroney record. Shame on the Liberals for shutting down debate on legislation with provisions that would stifle Canadian citizens their freedom of speech during federal elections. It stifles freedoms and liberties that go back to the Magna Carta of 1215. Rather than keeping the powers of government in check, Bill C-2 is expanding the powers of the federal government.
Bill C-2 is a gag law. It gags the freedom of Canadian citizens the right to speak up and be heard, hence it is dangerous legislation. The Liberal government dubs Bill C-2 as legislation that will limit the influence of money in politics. That is for everyone except of course the Liberals themselves. That is what it is doing.
Under the legislation the Liberal governing party will be allowed to spend almost $20 million in the country's various ridings, but it does not stop there. It can top that off with another $12 million nationally which it can spend in any riding it wishes. It is all taxpayers' dollars. Some limit. The sky is virtually the limit for Liberal spending.
What about private citizens groups or other organizations? The following just shows the kind of bastion of hypocrisy the Liberal government really is. Bill C-2 would limit the spending of a private citizen, or an organization no matter how large, to an average of $500 per constituency across the country with no more spending than $3,000 targeted at any one riding.
Here is the stark contrast and hypocrisy of it all. Liberal candidates can spend millions of taxpayers' dollars to get themselves elected to office. However private citizens can spend at the most a few paltry thousand dollars and they are not even trying to get elected to office.
That is why Bill C-2 is so dangerous. Where do the millions that the Liberals can spend come from? Under Bill C-2 the majority of the $30 million plus will come from taxpayers. How can this happen? How in heaven's name is this done? It is done, as all political bagmen know, through a generous system of tax credits and rebates. It is interesting that under this bill a limit really would never be reached.
It is the private citizens that the Liberals are trying to muzzle, even if the citizens are spending their own money. Bill C-2 really is not about how much money is being spent, but about who is spending it.
Here is what it boils down to. It is entirely okay for Liberals to spend the voters' money to spread Liberal opinions, but not for voters to spend it on their own opinions. That is even if they are not asking for a dime in tax breaks and slush funds.
Speaking of slush funds, Bill C-2 leaves contributions to Liberal associations and party campaigns a private matter, just like the deliberations of caucus and cabinet. In other words, it remains perfectly legal for wealthy contributors to meet privately with government decision makers and arrange to make money available to a Liberal association in exchange for a favour. The public of course would never really know about it unless there is an internal audit, like the billion dollar boondoggle at HRDC.
On the other hand, if private citizens and organizations use their money to communicate their views directly and publicly to voters, this would constitute buying influence in government and they could go to jail. George Orwell would be proud and heck, so would Joseph Stalin.
Here is the biggest scam of it all. Under Bill C-2 most of the money the Liberals will spend in the next election will not even count as spending and thus faces no limits at all. I am talking about all the money the Liberal government can spend on self-promoting advertising.
The federal government is the biggest advertiser in the country. Here is a small example. Liberal backbenchers can send mailers to their constituencies attacking private organizations. It may cost more than $3,000, but it will not count as election spending as long as it is mailed a few seconds before the writ is dropped. This is a standard practice of government MPs.
A bigger example is in the Prime Minister's own riding. Through various agencies and programs, $12 million in grants and loans found their way to Shawinigan in time for the last election. The amount is even larger than the spending limit for the Liberal Party at the national level.
Under Bill C-2 that is the kind of pork barrelling that private citizens could not expose and attack in the next election. Private people would have to remain quiet, but will they? Will they?
Do we really think that a group that believes in individual freedom will comply with a law that threatens prison terms for citizens using their own money to communicate their own ideas to other citizens? Do we really think a group that believes in democracy will support a law that gives governments virtually unlimited use of public dollars to finance their re-elections? Do we really think a group that believes in free elections will adhere to a law that makes it a crime for citizens to publicly advertise in a free press, but gives uncontrolled avenues of private influence to friends and cronies? Of course not.
There is no doubt that Bill C-2 will pass in the House unamended, but the gag law will be defeated. This oppressive law will be overturned as others have been overturned. That will be a good thing for the freedoms and liberties of all Canadians.