May 18, 1972

LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Allan J. MacEachen (President of the Privy Council) moved

that Bill C-211, to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act in respect of election expenses, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

He said: Mr. Speaker, before beginning to set out the details of this particular bill I might make one or two comments about the question of election expenses, the background to this bill and my approach in bringing the bill before the House of Commons. As you will appreciate, Mr. Speaker, every member of this House in a sense is an expert on election expenses because each member has met the difficulties and responsibilities in a financial way of contesting a general election. Therefore, everyone here has knowledge that probably is at least equal to the advice that is received from all other sources concerning what we ought to do about this difficult problem.

(Mr. Jerome.]

First of all I might mention that this bill follows in the main, if not entirely, the recommendations of the Special Committee on Election Expenses which reported to this House in June of last year. That was an all-party committee which met frequently and heard witnesses. In so far as can be determined, its recommendations to the House of Commons were unanimous. That report in turn benefited from the study which had been made previously by an expert group, a committee which had been appointed by the Pearson government and headed by Mr. Barbeau, known as the Barbeau committee. The membership of that committee included two former distinguished members of this House, Mr. M. J. Coldwell and Mr. Arthur Smith. In addition to the three gentlemen I have mentioned, the other members were Mr. Norman Ward and Mr. Gordon Dryden.

To a great extent, as did the report of the special committee, this bill for its guiding principles rests on the main recommendations of the Barbeau committee. There are some divergencies. I will perhaps later be prepared to explain why I am not recommending to the House the implementation of every single item that was put forward either in the Barbeau committee report or in the special committee report, although I repeat that we have followed in the main the principal recommendations.

We are keeping an open mind in respect of the details of this bill. I shall be listening to the views of hon. members on all sides of the House, and if perhaps persuasive arguments can be made and if gaps can be revealed in the bill, then certainly I will be ready to accept changes to it. As an example of that approach I might mention that the Barbeau committee recommended that in the disclosure provisions, registered political parties be obligated to report contributions received from foreign sources. There was no reason given at any point in the report concerning the basis for this recommendation, the extent to which in the view of the committee it felt political parties were financed by foreign sources or, indeed, why from a public policy point of view foreign sources ought to be segregated from domestic sources.

The special committee did not follow the Barbeau committee in that regard but recommended that non-resident individuals, corporations and unions be prohibited from making contributions to registered political parties. Again, in the report of the special committee I have been unable to find any reasoned argument in support of this particular proposal. In the absence of any compelling argument in favour of either of these approaches, I have not included any such provision in the bill. However, I certainly will be listening to the observations of hon. members on this point and if good arguments can be brought forward indicating the inclusion of such a provision would be an improvement to the bill, I would be prepared to accept an amendment along those lines: likewise in respect of other details of the bill, except that I am not prepared to depart from the main principles which underscore this bill.

The bill itself incorporates three main principles which have been widely discussed since the last electoral reform on this subject in 1920, namely, the limitation of election expenses, the disclosure of sources of contributions and the need for financial assistance by candidates and politi-

May 18, 1972

cal parties. The piecemeal electoral reforms between 1871 and 1920 all suffered from the twin difficulties of failure to recognize the existence in the law of political parties and failure to recognize that political parties and candidates require fairly large amounts of money in order to carry on their activities.

In the modern world very large amounts of money are required to conduct election campaigns and to communicate effectively with the electorate. Hopefully, this bill will overcome the problems imposed by these earlier failures and as well will bring the question of political finances to the attention of the public. Hopefully, also, it will place candidates seeking public office on a more equal footing.

I am sure hon. members will be asking why we are bringing this bill before the House at this particular time. There is no sinister motive at all behind the timing. Members will recall that the report of the special committee was presented last June, and as the person principally responsible for the scheduling of government business I can say that had I had the bill in my pocket on that date it would have been quite impossible, because of other legislative priorities, to have brought it before the House much earlier since it would have meant removing from the legislative program items to which the government attached priority.

Last fall, as hon. members will recall, we spent much time on the employment support bill, on the tax reform bill and on the farm products marketing bill, just to mention the three main items along with budget bills that had to receive the attention of the House. Also as hon. members know, in this session we have been occupied with legislation of considerable importance. That is why I invite members not to speculate that there is some sinister motive which has induced the government to bring the bill forward at this particular time, unless it is to support the speculation which exists in all our minds that elections are necessary and probably will overtake us at one time or another.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Now tell us about your good motives.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

There is a question as to when the bill will come into effect and whether it will be in effect before the next election. Not knowing when the House will pass the bill and not knowing the date of the next election, it is quite impossible for me to answer that question, except that it is clear that the Chief Electoral Officer can insist under the law on a time period of six months before he is obliged to implement an amendment to the Canada Elections Act. But there is nothing in the law that would prevent the Chief Electoral Officer implementing any amendment or being in a position to implement any amendment to the Canada Elections Act within a shorter period. Of course, hon. members may have conferred individually with the Chief Electoral Officer as to when in his opinion it would be possible to give effect to the provisions of this bill when and if it comes into effect.

The first principle in this bill is a decision to put a limit on election expenses. We all hope and strive for the objective that money and financial resources in the hands of

Election Expenses Bill

any individual or any party should not be the deciding factor in elections. There is a widespread opinion, incapable of proof however, that money has been very instrumental in waging and winning elections. Any discussion on the eligibility of persons for office must be premised on the assertion that a candidate with limited funds should have some equality or some semblance of equality of opportunity to present his views as much as the candidate with large resources. This bill in all its aspects will not assert full equality, because how is that possible in any field of endeavour? But at least it will bring us closer to the objective of equality among candidates competing for public office.

One method of putting candidates of differing financial means on a more equal footing in election campaigns, suggested by both the Barbeau committee and the special committee, was the imposition of a ceiling on the amounts which candidates could spend on election expenses. That is quite important because if an effective ceiling is placed on election expenses then a particularly wealthy candidate cannot rely upon great resources in order to influence unduly the outcome of an election. We have not put a cap, we have not put a limit or we have not recommended a limit on all election expenses. We have avoided that, as the Barbeau committee avoided it and as the special committee avoided it, because first of all there is a question of necessity. Is it necessary to put a limit on every conceivable item in the expense list of a political candidate?

There are certain overhead expenses within a campaign which exist from one election to another, which do not vary a great deal and which exist in every constituency- for example, the travelling expenses and personal expenses of candidates. What the Barbeau committee did and what the special committee did was to select those items in the over-all expense spectrum which first of all were foreseeable, were controllable, were subject to the greatest escalation and which were putting the greatest burden upon candidates and political parties.

For that reason, election expenses are defined in the bill generally to include expenditures in connection with the media, the print media and the electronics media; in other words, paid advertising, the biggest element in modern election campaigns. Accordingly, we have imposed a ceiling on a candidate's election expenses to be defined as the cost of paid broadcast advertising, paid press advertising and other forms of paid advertising. A candidate's fixed costs which I have mentioned already, such as travelling expenses, the costs of his nominating meetings, and so on, are not included. The rental of halls, for example, is not included within the definition of election expenses. These are not included because they are relatively static in nature and they have not been inordinate consumers of election campaign funds. Therefore we have defined election expenses to include these special items and we are proposing a limit on campaign expenses under the definition I have mentioned.

The limit on a candidate's campaign spending proposed is $1 per elector for the first 15,000 electors, plus 50 cents per elector for every elector over 15,000 and under 25,000, and 25 cents per elector for each elector over 25,000. This formula works out at the figure of $20,000 for the first 25,000 electors, plus 25 cents for each elector over 25,000.

May 18, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

For example, in a constituency having 45,000 electors a candidate would be limited to $30,000 on his campaign advertising costs. These are the figures put forward by the special committee. They are larger than the amounts recommended earlier by the Barbeau committee. They are within shooting distance of the actual experience of particular urban candidates in the last federal election.

They may seem to be generous or to be too large, but bearing in mind the recent experience of candidates, and that if adopted this legislation will exist probably for quite a number of future elections, they seem to be a reasonable limit at this particular time. As a government we are not married to these particular figures. If persuasive arguments can be made that they ought to be increased or decreased, then we would consider that question as well.

Now I would like to deal with a number of constituencies so that hon. members will get some idea of the amounts we are talking about. For example, the constituency of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), with estimated electors of 60,284 at April 1, 1972, would have a spending limit of $28,825.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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?

An hon. Member:

He will need more than that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

The constituency of the Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Stanfield), with 45,807 electors, would have a spending limit of $25,201. The constituency of the hon. member for York South (Mr. Lewis), with 47,130 electors, would have a spending limit of $25,550. The constituency of the hon. member for Temiscamingue (Mr. Caouette), with 33,000 electors, would have a spending limit of $22,000. Those are the limits for these constituencies. It is not difficult for hon. members to compute the amounts for themselves. If I can make a personal comment based on my experience as a candidate in a number of elections, I believe that these are real limits, not fictional limits and that in the future candidates will be held back quite forcibly by these limits when they are confronted with managing a modern election campaign based, as it is, on the employment of the media.

I should like to turn for a moment to the limitation of spending by the parties. The bill does not impose any over-all spending limit upon registered political parties. In this particular we followed the recommendation contained in the Barbeau report. The bill does, however, impose limits on the use of the broadcast media by political parties through an election campaign. It is in the area of the electronics media that campaign spending by registered parties has escalated most notably in recent years.

It was for this reason that the Barbeau committee and the special committee recommended that some limitation be placed on spending in these areas. Spending by registered parties in other areas such as in the press has not proved to be as significant in terms of consumption of campaign funds as the broadcast media, and consequently the need for control is not so great. Registered parties will be limited to 6 i hours on any broadcast outlet during the election campaign. That is not 61 hours for each political party; the total 6) hours is to be shared by the registered parties and the bill provides that the CRTC will be

given the responsibility of adjudicating any dispute as to the allocation of time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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PC

Eldon Mattison Woolliams

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Woolliams:

That is pretty dangerous.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

This is also a real limit. It follows the recommendation of both the Barbeau committee and the special committee. In arriving at any allocation formula, the CRTC is to consult representatives of the registered parties in an attempt to have the formula worked out by agreement. If agreement cannot be reached, the CRTC can put forward a proposal and give notice that it will be binding and after two days it will be binding on all parties. The CRTC will then notify all broadcasters in Canada of the proposed allocation and these broadcasters must provide time to the registered parties on the basis of that allocation. There are penalties for any failure to provide this time. The time will be paid for one-half by the Chief Electoral Officer and one-half by the political party itself.

Beyond this over-all limit, political parties will not be permitted to buy time but broadcasters who so wish can contribute time over this limit to registered political parties. If such a contribution is made, it must be made to all parties on the basis of the formula just mentioned. Consequently, the advantage to any registered party which might be obtained by having had campaign funds available for media advertising will be lost and all parties will be on a comparable footing as far as the use of paid broadcasting is concerned.

As hon. members are aware there is a great deal of interest in the question of disclosure of the source of campaign funds. The Barbeau committee in its hearings identified a feeling held by many Canadians that political parties must have something to hide because they do not disclose who are their contributors. I do not suggest that this feeling is justified by the facts surrounding the contributions to any party; however, because this feeling exists it is necessary that we not only reassure the public about political parties but that we do it in such a way that they will be convinced that the assurance is real and solid.

This bill reflects the view that disclosure of the sources of campaign contributions will put the facts surrounding contributions before the public. It will have a salutary effect in reducing the alleged mystery surrounding the financing of political campaigns, and probably for the first time will impress upon the public the fact that usually political parties are broke and between elections have a great deal of difficulty financing their annual activities, and that despite the alleged wealth of political parties each of them has great difficulty and candidates have a great deal of difficulty at election time in raising money to finance their campaign.

It is a myth, of course, of modern politics that money flows into the coffers of political parties without limit and that really it is an abundance of riches with which the parties work at election time. We hope that the system of disclosure recommended in this bill will put a good deal of this misunderstanding to rest and that the public will have a real look at how much money political parties raise each year, how much they raise for elections, how much they spend and what they spend it on. As a government, we have not gone into conclave and decided what system of

May 18, 1972

disclosure would be in the best interests of the Liberal party, for example. On this point we have accepted the recommendations of the Barbeau committee and the special committee of the House of Commons.

In this bill we are proposing that political parties be obliged by law to disclose their sources of funds by category, namely, the corporations, trade unions, private individuals and so on. We are not obliging nor asking that the individual contributor to a political party be identified in the return. In taking this approach we are following that taken by the Barbeau committee and by the special committee.

The Barbeau committee discussed this particular question and hon. members may want to refer to the discussion in which they put forward the pros and cons of disclosure by contributors. They concluded that for a number of reasons it would be in the best interests of the democratic process not to identify particular contributors whose privacy would be violated, who may be subject to harassment from all political parties and whose secrecy of political activity would be jeopardized. For these reasons they did not recommend the identification of the contributor. They accepted the view that an obligation to disclose individual contributions to political parties would probably dry up sources of support from legitimate contributors and would force political parties to rely on what they term illegitimate sources of campaign contributions.

It seems to me that in obliging political parties on an annual basis and after an election to disclose by source their contributions in total dollars, by obliging the chief agent of the party to make a report to the Chief Electoral Officer, by obliging the party to have its accounts audited and confirmed that in the opinion of the auditor the accounts had been kept in accordance with the law, and by obliging the Chief Electoral Officer to make these accounts public we are going a long way in putting a searchlight on the activities of political parties. We are taking a very important step and I hope that members of all parties will realize its implications for the future of all political parties and the operation of their financing.

With regard to candidates, the system of disclosure for candidates under the bill is intended to be the one contained in the present law. In this regard we are simply adopting the Barbeau report and the special committee report of what should be disclosed by candidates. We are requiring candidates to publish returns relating to the names of contributors, whether private individuals or corporations or unregistered groups who have contributed to their campaigns. The names of specific contributors must be set out on the form relating to election expenses.

In addition to the return relating to election expenses, a candidate must within two months following date of the election have his official agent turn over his accounts, receipts and vouchers and his return relating to election expenses to an independent auditor who will check the accounts to determine whether or not they accurately reflect the spending or, alternatively, that there is insufficient information.

The official agent of the candidate must then forward the return relating to election expenses, and the auditor's

Election Expenses Bill

report to the returning officer who in turn submits it to the Chief Electoral Officer who keeps both reports as public records. The returning officer is obliged to publish the return relating to election expenses and the audited report in a local newspaper following the election. The candidate is not entitled to the return of his deposit or the financial assistance, which I will discuss later, until these returns have been submitted.

The concept of the auditor's report was developed by the special committee and it is felt that this will allow an individual citizen to determine quickly and accurately what a particular candidate has spent or whether a particular candidate is in violation of the law. If a candidate does not submit a return and an auditor's report, or if the return is inaccurate or incomplete, then the candidate if elected will not be allowed to take his seat, or if not elected will not be eligible to be a candidate again until the return and the report have been filed.

I have already discussed the system of disclosure by registered political parties but I should give a little more detail because it is a key proposal. Under the bill, parties registered under section 13 of the Canada Elections Act will be required each year, within two months of the end of its fiscal year, to submit an annual return showing the amount of contributions made to it in that year by classes of donors. These classes of donors are individuals, public corporations with share capital, private corporations with share capital, corporations without share capital, trade unions and unincorporated associations other than trade unions.

On the disbursement side, the parties must show amounts of money provided by the party, the value of other assistance given to each provincial and regional organization of the party, the amount of money expended on operating expenses of the party, including the travel costs of the leader of the party, and the total of all other expenditures made by or on behalf of the party. In addition, within six months of each election the registered parties must submit a similar return with respect to contributions and expenditures made by the party during the election.

Both the annual reports and the post-election reports of registered parties must be accompanied by the certificate of an independent auditor similar to the one to be obtained by candidates. This must state that in the auditor's opinion the accounts of the party and the reports accurately reflect the expenditures of the party in the annual period or in the election campaign, whichever is applicable. That is certainly a new step.

I have already discussed the question of disclosure and I have mentioned the reasons which led us to accept the recommendation of both Barbeau and the special committee with respect to the obligation. We fully accept the principle of disclosure with regard to political parties, but it is disclosure by category. For the first time we have applied the doctrine of agency. To ensure that the accounts, vouchers and receipts of the registered political parties accurately reflect all the expenditures and contributions made to political parties, it is necessary to apply the doctrine of agency to political parties.

The system of agency for political parties will be analogous to the one already applicable to candidates. Regis-

May 18, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

tered parties will be required to designate agents with the Chief Electoral Officer forthwith after the coming into force of this bill. Thereafter, all payments on behalf of the party must be made by agents and all contributions made to agents. Each party will be required to designate a chief agent who will be responsible for the filing of the party's annual and post-election reports and obtaining and filing the auditor's statements thereon.

Each agent of the party will be required to render whatever assistance is required to the auditor for the annual and post-election audit. The chief agent will be held responsible for filing the auditor's reports and ensuring their accuracy, and will be guilty of an offence for not doing so. The registered party itself may be prosecuted for failure by its chief agent to discharge these duties. This makes it possible to go after the agent of the party or the political party. The fine proposed for an offence by a registered political party is $25,000. It may seem an inadequate amount, but it seems to me that the sanction here is not solely the fine itself but the embarrassment which any national political party would suffer if it found itself in violation of the provisions of this bill.

I would also point out that the existing provisions governing the duties of the candidate's agent will ensure that no person other than the official agent incurs election expenses on behalf of the candidate. If other persons or groups incur election expenses with the knowledge and consent of the candidate or his official agent, such expenses must be included in the candidate's expenses and will be subject to the candidate's limit.

If such groups incur election expenses without the knowledge and consent of the candidate, they will be guilty of an offence unless they can show that they incurred these expenses in supporting or opposing a candidate for the legitimate purposes of an organization to which they belong and not for the purposes of avoiding the candidate's expenditure limits. We feel that protection for persons who incur election expenses for the legitimate purposes of an organization to which they belong, and not to avoid the limitation of expenditure provisions of the act, is necessary in order to preserve a balance between freedom of speech on the one hand and the necessity to observe spending limits on the other.

In addition to imposing a limit on the amounts which candidates can spend on personal publicity, both the Bar-beau report and the special committee report recommended that a degree of financial equality should be established among candidates and among political parties by the extension of certain services and subsidies to all who qualify and to increase public participation in politics by broadening the base of political contributions through tax concessions to donors. The bill contains several provisions to accomplish these purposes.

Any candidate receiving 20 per cent of the valid votes cast is entitled to a return equivalent to 25 per cent of proven and allowable election expenses defined in the act and certified in the audited report. In addition, the candidate will receive a sum of $250, which is intended to be a contribution toward the cost of obtaining an auditor's report. Candidates in scheduled areas, that is, large north-

(Mr. MacEachen.]

ern ridings, will receive a further federal allowance of one cent per square mile up to a maximum of $3,000 for proven travelling expenses, whichever is less. These amounts are paid by the office of the Chief Electoral Officer.

These payments are directed to assisting candidates for parliament to meet the basic requirements of communicating with the public, and since modern election campaigning is heavily dependent on the mass media with their very high costs, it becomes desirable that candidates should receive a degree of assistance in meeting these costs.

In addition to the time alloted to the registered parties on the broadcast media, broadcasters are required to make additional time available to the candidates of each party in the amount of five minutes on television, 20 minutes on radio and 20 minutes on cable television services. In practice, this time is divided among candidates of the parties in the area covered by the outlet. Where a broadcasting outlet covers more than one riding, each candidate would get the amount of time which I have just mentioned. Provision is also made for independent candidates to have access to broadcasting time on an equitable basis.

At the same time, while this is a guarantee to ensure that every candidate in every riding where there is an outlet will have guaranteed minimum access to the media in the way I have stipulated, each candidate is free to purchase media time up to the limits of his own election budget. In other words, though there is a guarantee of minimum time which must be provided, he cannot be denied any amount of time he wishes to purchase up to the ceiling imposed on his election expenses.

There is another important point. Rates for individual and registered parties are fixed at the standard rates charged by broadcasters for normal commercial customers and increased rates during an election campaign are not permitted. We are all familiar with the practice of the media of charging, not the lowest commercial rates but what are described as national rates. In future, under this law the media will have to provide candidates with the lowest commercial rate.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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?

John Douglas Campbell MacLean

Mr. MacLecm:

Good.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

That, in essence, describes the provisions of what is a wide-ranging effort to reform and update the electoral process in Canada with respect to election expenses. We accept the principle of disclosure, of greater public knowledge about the financing of political parties. We do not take the approach in the bill that politics is evil, that it is sleazy, that it is something to be hidden. We proceed on the basis that it is a legitimate activity and that it should be given the same status as other activities in the community.

It is for this reason, and in order to broaden the basic contribution to political parties, that we are providing certain tax incentives to contributors to political parties. An individual or a corporation can be eligible annually to a tax credit of up to $500, or one-third of a maximum annual contribution of $1,500. We believe that this tax credit, available to contributors of political parties, should make it possible to broaden the base of support for politi-

May 18, 1972

cal parties while making the practice of contributing to political parties more appealing. It should certainly encourage smaller contributors and reduce dependence among parties upon very large contributors.

We have chosen the tax credit system as opposed to an income tax deduction because we feel it to be a more equitable system and because it does not affect the tax base. Here again, there was a difference of opinion between the Barbeau committee and the special committee. The Barbeau committee recommended a tax credit; the special committee recommended a tax deduction. After considering the arguments for and against, we thought it was in the interest of equality among taxpayers and better for our political system to use the tax credit method.

I believe I have covered all the main items in the bill. Where we have departed from any of the recommendations of either committee I shall be glad, either on winding up the second reading debate or in committee, to go into further detail. But I am sure the principles of the bill, namely, the principle of disclosure, applicable for the first time to registered parties, the placing of a ceiling on election expenses of candidates and of political parties and, finally, the support of political activity through direct grants from the treasury to eligible candidates and through the provision of tax incentives will be widely supported.

I wish to apologize for the time I have taken in introducing this bill but I judged it to be of some interest and did not wish to miss any of the important points. I might add that I am approaching the bill with an open mind, in full knowledge that everyone in the House is an expert on the subject. We, the experts, in the House of Commons will finally determine the shape of this bill based upon what I consider to be the superior knowledge and experience possessed in this field by members of the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Heath Macquarrie (Hillsborough):

Mr. Speaker, so impressed am I with the minister's very interesting defence of this bill that I am almost tempted to say "Amen" and sit down. But I will resist that temptation for a while. The minister is indeed a very plausible parliamentary practitioner when he wants to be. I must say I was more impressed by his presentation than by the bill he is presenting. As to the whole question of election expenses, I have long been an advocate-and I imagine most members of this House have been advocates-of introducing a measure of change. There is much that ought to be done; this is a very important aspect of our parliamentary system.

I think some of the general principles that the minister has recapitulated find general acceptance in the House. It is proper and appropriate that we officially recognize the tremendous importance of political parties to our whole parliamentary structure. Sixty years ago Lord Bryce declared that political parties are older than democracy and that no great, free, representative state ever worked without them. He was not able to see that you could work democracy without political parties. And so we must real-

Election Expenses Bill

ize that they are essential to the working of our system. Only too often do we hear the sordid suggestions that surround political parties rather than acknowledge the essential democratic function that underpins them.

I was immensely moved by the minister's invitation not to suggest that there was anything sinister about the timing of the presentation of his bill. I also noted his invitation to suggest why the separation of foreign contributions, which was recommended by the Barbeau committee, had not been included. I should not have thought that at this "grey" stage of parliamentary discussion that that kind of invitation would have been necessary or that such prompting would have been required.

I noted, too, that the minister said it would have been very difficult to get the measure through during all these many, many months, that even had he had it right in his pocket there may have been great difficulty about getting passage. I suppose had he never tried, he would never have known what parliament would do with his measure had he taken it out of his pocket. I have the feeling that it was not in his pocket until very lately, that this measure is a scissors and paste job, and that where Barbeau did not fit the minister used the special committee. Certainly the synchronization of the two does not strike me as the result of a long, careful series of legislative steps; I find a lot of disharmony in the piecing together of what Barbeau suggested and what our very fine special committee suggested. Therefore, I am not going to cast any sinister suggestions but I am just wondering whether there was a burning desire to produce yet another panoply of progressive excellence before a certain event, and to produce it in such a way that nothing really had to be done but produce it.

This is a discussion that has been going on for many years. The subject of election expenses has been a dreary story of sometimes shady dealings and worrisome suspicions. We have had many calls for reform down through the ages. Sir Robert Borden-as he later became-made his first speech in 1896 and spoke of nothing else but the outrageous, rotten practice that had put certain members of the other party into office. He made a very good job of it, too. There were a lot of crooked things done in olden days. For example, there was a certain sheriff who on nominating day did not tell the Conservative candidate where the nominating meeting was to take place, and the poor lad showed up after nominations were closed and there was a Grit acclamation.

I may say that my party was not free from iniquitous practice. We never forgot the Pacific scandal, though over the long course of history we were never seemingly able to become the masters at this sort of thing as another prominent and ancient party did. But it is not for me here today to throw two Beauharnois against one Pacific scandal; suffice it to say that there was room for reform.

But then, again, it should be said that down through the years as Parliaments have tackled this subject we have produced what by comparison with many states, indeed with practically any state, is a very fine parliamentary system. We have an elections act which I think compares very favourably with any I have studied, and I have studied a good many. We have improved the elections act and have in our own time, generally speaking, gained the

May 18, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

confidence that elections that take place in Canada pretty clearly and generally reflect the popular will of the day. We cannot judge the popular will, though at times we might make comments about it. Certainly ever since I have been in this House and long before that we have had at the helm a Chief Electoral Officer who was a man of ability and integrity, a judgment which I am sure is universally held and widely shared.

There are some things about this measure which cause me immediate concern. I agree that there are advances in it, and not for one moment do I suggest that much good has not been produced in this bill. But I am troubled about many matters. In the first place, we do not really yet have anything like a limitation on what parties will be spending. The big, well-heeled party will still have the advantage over the other parties not so affluent, and I do not say that because I do not happen to belong to the most well-heeled party. But let us not pretend that we are putting a ceiling on election expenses when in fact it is something a good deal less substantial than a ceiling. We must note that we are limiting expenses to some aspects only, such as advertising, broadcasting and printing material. We all know there are many other areas than these.

I would not use the word that the minister used: the other expenses are not "static" and they are certainly not insignificant. Heaven knows, they are not lacking in costliness. The disclosure provisions are not such as to create a tremendous advance or to cause any real quaking and shaking. It is not terribly hard to form a corporation, shall I say. There are many ways whereby in its administration and its practical operation this measure will be something less than a gem of perfection.

Another thing that I do not see dealt with here and which concerns me is that if we believe that parties are important-and they are important-we must recognize that parties have to live between elections as well as at election time. I think this consideration should and could have been thought about. The minister mentioned that various new positions would be created and an auditor would be appointed. I presume that the Chief Electoral Officer will pay him too. I hope that this will not be a charge upon the local candidate. I also noted that in the picking out from the Barbeau report and the picking out from the special committee report we lost what I thought was a very good suggestion, that of free mailing. I think that would have been a useful and helpful contribution to the conduct of an election. Surely we should be able to facilitate contact between a candidate and the people he seeks to represent.

I shall not dwell long on the idea of the tax credit or discuss it in contradistinction to the tax exemption; I might get mixed up, as the minister did momentarily this morning on the radio, though he soon corrected himself. I am wondering whether perhaps somewhere along the line we might make it easier for the little man to contribute and help, because I believe parties should be as broadly based as possible, with as many people as possible helping to make that party something in which they have a part and a tangible investment. That is the way you make a broadly based, popular party and I believe that is a very good thing.

When I get to the clause on broadcasting I see more evidences of haste than in any other clause. This is an area which will be filled with problems and which will require many amendments and reconsiderations. In the first place, what genius thought up the notion that prime time for radio is between 6 to 12 p.m.? That, surely, is not the kind of thing that people with this bill in their pockets since 1966 or 1970 should have let go by. That is not prime time for radio at all. In spite of the fact that we have spent millions preparing for satellites, there are still places in this country which depend upon the radio for messages of this kind and of other types. This bill lumps together TV and radio, and a little separation or surgery will be required there. In this whole area we find evidence of haste which would almost lead to sinister suggestions to which, of course, I do not want to give utterance.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

You are restrained in that regard.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

Yes, I am a very restrained man. As I read over the clauses I am wondering just how they are going to become operative. I am wondering what we are going to do with the broadcaster who has his prime time fully booked, yet the state tells him he must carry this and that. Who decides whether he cuts into Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola time? He may have a bit of a problem in deciding which one he should bump. Who copes with the candidate's strategy in preferring to concentrate his small, limited amount of time rather than spread it out? There you have another problem. I notice that proposed section 99(2) is very much in need of guidelines and I think this will have to be discussed in great detail and more explanation will be required. The minister was probably very wise in gliding over this subject pretty quickly.

I come to another problem in this whole area, in respect of what you do with newspapers during the blackout period before election day. We had grown accustomed to having 48 hours during which we had no TV or radio political messages. This time was cut down to 24 hours. We now have this inhibition moved to the written media, the newspapers. We read that any article, editorial, advertisement or announcement of a partisan political character in relation to the election or by-election, as the case may be, is an offence under this act.

Supposing the Leader of the Opposition goes to Toronto the night before an election and addresses a tremendous crowd of enthusiastic people. What do the newspapers of that city do? Do they blot it out altogether or do they send two reporters, one of whom might say that many people thought it was an enthusiastic meeting while the other might say many thought it was not? Perhaps they might say there were a number of people there but they are not able to disclose how many because that might look like something of a "political nature". I suggest you are going to make namby-pambies out of the press lest they be charged with the offence set out in the act.

How are they going to report a political meeting? This is still a legal operation for them which now, under this bill, they may not fulfil. I believe in this connection the bill extends a badly defined prohibition which had existed heretofore for broadcasters only. This extends it to the press, which is a much more difficult media to have

May 18, 1972

involved because I cannot see papers being blanked out altogether.

It is always a difficult thing to choose a good, general objective such as we have but I am inclined to believe that perhaps this bill suffers from a little too much hasty and ill-coordinated particularization. There are some other jurisdictions which have a limit on expenditures but which allow the parties and the candidates to decide whether they shall put "X" number of dollars of effort into radio, into television or into print, but in this bill we have a series of inhibitions which will be extremely difficult to sort out.

Probably we might achieve the objective more easily and more efficiently if we allowed a choice within the framework of expenses. There still is a great deal of diversity in this country and a campaign which would work for the hon. member for Skeena (Mr. Howard), for instance, would not be the kind of campaign which would work for an hon. member such as the hon. member for Brandon-Souris (Mr. Dinsdale) whose riding is quite different. So you cannot apply judiciously and wisely a too rigid formula as to how a man or a party makes an appeal to the electorate.

Of course we have the right to say there are certain things one cannot do, and this is said in the elections act. We have the right to suggest that we bring a degree of equity into the measure of assistance. I think that is all to the good. The only danger here, of course, is that we might find that the contribution which comes from the state will become a kind of a floor and that over and above that the same needs and desires to collect and raise funds will still be required. Perhaps if there is any misconception in the mind of the public it may be more difficult to attain them.

If I speak only half as long as the minister it does not mean I am only half as interested, but it is hard for me to get over my habit of laconic brevity even in a matter of this kind. One of the most important things I looked for and did not find was a reference to shortening election campaigns. I think election campaigns in Canada are far too long, and when we have people who have the right- and our system gives one man this right-to decide when a campaign takes place, this prolongs them still further. This adds still more complications to our efforts to shorten election campaigns. I am not the only one who thinks that. At page 48 of the Barbeau report we find this passage:

Modern communications and transportation, in the committee's view, render unnecessary the present length of campaigns. The duration of campaigns now not only imposes a heavy burden on the finances of the parties and candidates, but also on the stamina of the leaders and candidates as well as the electorate.

The committee recognizes that the time necessary to enumerate electors under the present machinery may make it impossible to shorten the period between the issuance of the election writ and pooling day, without the introduction of a permanent list of electors. The committee also recognizes that considerable planning and preparation are required by parties and candidates immediately following the dissolution of parliament, and there is no intent on the part of the committee to suggest a restriction on this type of activity during any prescribed period. The committee suggests, however, that the campaign period need not coincide with the period needed for the establishment of the election machinery.

Election Expenses Bill

The report goes on to suggest that parties and candidates be prohibited from campaigning on radio and television before the 29th day before election day. I would presume to go even further than this illustrious body and accept the minister's invitation to constitute every one of us here as an expert. I think this is a good suggestion which was carried through by the special committee on election expenses. They pretty well recommended the same thing, except they declared it should be 29 days.

The report recommended that parties and candidates be prohibited from campaigning, as distinct from preparation for and holding nomination conventions, advertising for workers, and so on, on radio and television, and from using paid print media including newspapers, periodicals, direct mailing, billboards and posters prior to the twenty-ninth day before polling day.

I think both groups have missed a significant point. Once the writ is issued it will be terribly difficult to deal with the days before you would formally commence your campaign. What would you do? Would you go home and knit, or draw pictures in some private book? I believe if the recommendation of the Barbeau committee or of the special committee were followed we would have two campaigns, a kind of phony war for a month and then the real thing for the next month. Both would be costly. I say, and I have said this before, that the time has come to adopt a permanent voters list. It would cost money, of course, but so does enumeration and so will all this legislation.

The permanent list works quite well in other countries. I think with a permanent voters list we could have an election within a month. With modern technology I believe a month is plenty of time. I am convinced that with the campaign period cut in half we would have not only a better and more sustained campaign, as well as a more highly intensified voters' interest, but we would also be able to cut down expenditures across the board, which is what we are after. This, I think, is a more effective way in which to reduce the cost of campaigns.

I propose to move a reasoned amendment in respect of this measure. Before I present it I wish to reiterate that for the good that is in this bill, we are thankful. We are thankful for the things which are useful, valuable and adaptable. Under reasonable terms and under efficient administration we will lend our support. I regret profoundly that the whole measure has been surrounded with cynicism. I shall not go back into history and into other efforts to reform in this manner, but this particular situation is shocking. This reform began in 1964 when the Barbeau committee was established. The report of that illustrious body was ready in 1966. We had all sorts of appeals to the government in between. What happened? On April 7, 1968, a most auspicious day, the then new Prime Minister was asked this question:

I wonder if you could tell us, coming back to this election expenses matter, whether you intend to do anything about implementing the report of the election expenses committee. It seems to me this is rather fundamental to the just society which you mentioned.

The year 1968 was the year of the just society. This was the Prime Minister's answer:

I agree. Top priority. Next Speech from the Throne.

May 18, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

The verve, the enthusiasm, the high gear of 1968 has sloughed and slumbered. The special committee reported months and months ago. People have been asking when we will have the legislation. The minister never told us it was in his pocket. I do not think it was in his pocket. I think it is impending, cloudy events which has caused them to look for something a little brighter perhaps than that which went before. I am not enamoured of that method. I find inadequacies in the measure and I propose, seconded by the hon. member for Huron (Mr. McKinley) to move the following motion:

That all the words after "that" be left out and the following substituted:

This House, regretting that government delay in introducing Bill C-211 prevents the full operation of a measure dealing with election expenses before January 1, 1973, and that the bill fails to provide for adequate reform, declines to pass a bill which does not take advantage of present day advances in the mass media and transportation which would provide for a shorter election period and thereby, amongst other things, substantially reduce election expenses.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The hon. member for Hillsborough (Mr. Macquarrie) may appreciate that the Chair would have procedural reservations about an amendment of this nature. I have had occasion during the past few weeks, when there has been a proliferation of amendments of this kind, to indicate that to my way of thinking hon. members are really attempting from time to time under the guise of so-called reasoned amendments to bring in substantive motions.

Hon. members know well, or will find out if they study the history of procedure in the Canadian House and in the British House, that reasoned amendments are a very limited type which can be proposed and accepted procedurally. Traditionally, in our British parliamentary system there are really only very few amendments which can be proposed at the second reading stage, essentially an instruction to a committee or a three-month or six-month hoist. The so-called reasoned amendment is intended to give a member an opportunity to place on the record the reason he is opposed to the principle of a bill and why the people on whose behalf he is addressing the House will oppose the bill and vote against it.

I notice we have tended to stray from this principle to the extent that just recently we had a reasoned amendment proposed by a member of the House who later voted in favour of the bill, which is pure heresy so far as procedure is concerned. There is no doubt whatsoever that a reasoned amendment can only be an indication for the record as to why a member or a party intends to vote against the principle of a bill.

I find it difficult to recognize in this proposed amendment the essentials of a so-called reasoned amendment. Mind you, if we look for precedents we will find precious few because in the history of procedure in our House there have been very few reasoned amendments proposed. I suggest that for some strange reason it seems that in recent weeks and months hon. members have been taken with the idea that perhaps a reasoned amendment is a good way in which to propose a substantive motion which very often does not bear too much immediate and essential relevancy to the principle of the bill.

I wonder whether that is a good practice. I fear very much that we could become involved in an entirely new principle or method of amending a motion for the second or third reading of bills. Before accepting this amendment I should like to look at it very closely. But before I do that I will be very pleased to hear arguments which might be submitted for the consideration of the Chair, either in support of the procedural aspect of the amendment or in opposition to it, which I would be glad to take into consideration.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

Your Honour, I was notified this afternoon by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Baldwin) that it was proposed to move a reasoned amendment. I indicated to him that probably because of the reasons Your Honour has mentioned-and he was aware of them-there might be some discussion as to the validity of the amendment. He put forward the proposal that we might defer any consideration of the arguments pro and con until he could be in the House tomorrow to deal with the procedural aspects for the opposition. That is quite agreeable to me and, I hope, to other hon. members.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

This is an excellent suggestion, because I feel that some day we will have to look at this idea of reasoned amendments and among ourselves agree whether it is the type of situation into which we want to get. I have serious doubts about whether we should allow the House to drift procedurally to the position where any amendment can be moved on second reading; I think this would be very regrettable from a procedural standpoint.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
Permalink
NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Les Benjamin (Regina-Lake Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that discussion on the validity of the amendment is deferred until tomorrow because hon. members have been using up my time for the last five minutes. I begin by paying tribute to the special committee of the House which worked for over a year on this matter because, first, I thought it worked extremely well, extremely hard and with a great deal of harmony and, second, because I was a member of that committee.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Well put.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
Permalink
NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

The chairman of that committee, the hon. member for Peel South (Mr. Chappell), did a good job in guiding our deliberations. We had a great many discussions, and even arguments, but never with any ill-feeling. We tried to come up with a report that would be unanimous but unanimous in the sense that it would be a consensus and that each of us, if and when we received the legislation, could stand up and speak on specific points in the report with which we might have disagreed in our committee deliberations. Now, Mr. Speaker, after all the talk of politicians of all parties for so many years we finally have legislation to limit and control election expenses. This bill is welcome if for no other reason than that we are starting to do something about this situation.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) has made many statements, one of which the hon. member for Hillsborough (Mr. Macquarrie) quoted, and there are a number of

May 18, 1972

others on the record about his anxiety to place controls and limitations on election expenses. Since last June 4, when the report of the Special Committee was tabled, on several occasions I have asked both the government House leader and the Prime Minister when we would have this legislation.

It seems to me that if it was the government's intention, as is now apparent in the bill, to accept most if not all of the recommendations of the Barbeau committee and the special committee, the drafting of the legislation could have been done much sooner. It also seems to me that the arguments of the government House leader about the lack of time, pressure of business and the heavy legislative schedule do not hold water since we had time for seven weeks of recess at Christmas, two weeks at Easter and a long summer recess last year. Somewhere in those three periods surely at least two weeks could have been available to deal with this legislation.

I would have some worries and doubts about how much the government means it if an election were called tomorrow, next week or the week after that before this legislation is passed. If that happens, my worries and doubts will have been proven valid. We will then know that the intention of the government was not to have legislation passed before the next general election but to have a bill that its candidates could wave in the air during the campaign. In that event it would be the basest kind of political cynicism and political perversion. I hope I am wrong; I hope with all my heart that it is the government's intention to have this legislation passed.

If by chance no election is called until November, December, or January or February of next year, then there is no good reason why this legislation could not be in effect for the next general election, even though there is a provision in the Canada Elections Act that six months must elapse. I point out that there is an exception, that where the Chief Electoral Officer advertises to the effect in the Canada Gazette that he is ready to go ahead, then the provisions of this bill can be implemented in a period sooner than six months. I suspect that he would probably need at least four or five months to implement this kind of legislation.

My first remark about the bill itself are that we will support it in principle. I was pleased to hear the governe-ment House leader say that he has an open mind on this matter and that he would be willing to listen to and possibly implement worthy suggestions put forward by members in all parties. I was pleased to hear him say that because I want to point out to the House a large hole in this legislation, one mentioned also by the hon. member for Hillsborough. There is no provision in the bill to put any limitation on party spending. Mr. Speaker, that in effect nullifies the whole purpose of legislation to limit and control election expenses. If my memory serves me correctly, this is one item on which members of the special committee were unanimous, and in its report the committee said:

The Barbeau committee did not recommend any general limitations on expenditures by parties. However, your committee considers that imposing limitations on candidate's expenditures would not be as effective if limitations were not also imposed on parties' expenditures. Therefore, the committee considers that its

Election Expenses Bill

proposal to limit candidates' expenditures is closely related to its proposal to limit parties' expenditures.

Not limiting party expenditures not only nullifies the purpose and principle of legislation to control election expenses but it causes me to have worries and doubts about whether the government really means it when it talks about controlling and limiting expenses. I still have a fear that the old-line parties cannot bring themselves to part with their corporate bagmen, or at least reduce the amount that those bagmen need to get, because with no limit on party spending the bagmen can operate at full-steam as before.

We had a great deal of harmonious discussion on this matter, members of all parties expressed their concern about it and the committee recommended a limit of 30 cents per elector in the aggregate of the electoral districts in which each party ran candidates. If a party ran a full slate of 264 candidates, a limitation of 30 cents per elector in all of Canada, with some 14 million electors according to the June, 1971, census, would mean that each party would have a limit of $4,200,000 it could spend. Surely that should be enough. In the committee I argued that 30 cents was too high and spoke in favour of 20 cents; other hon. members wanted 35 cents or 40 cents. We ended up with a compromise and recommended 30 cents.

Even $4,200,000 would probably cut the Liberals down by $2J million or $3 million, and the Tories perhaps by a million or a million and a half. At least it would put the limit on, because without that limit the party can spend money in any and all constituencies in the country without mentioning a candidate's name, for the aid and comfort of the party. I hope the minister and the government will agree to an amendment when this bill reaches committee to insert the recommendation of the special committee to limit party expenditures to 30 cents per elector, which can be a maximum of $4,200,000. I may catch heck from some of my colleagues for this. I think that is really too much, but at least it is a limit. With rising costs it may well be that two or three elections from now it will not be too much, but surely at this time it should be enough.

On the other hand, Mr. Speaker, we limit candidates. The recommendations of the committee were adopted word for word in this bill and I am grateful to the minister and the government for that. I am sure all members of the committee will feel complimented that the government accepted the entire recommendations on the limitation in respect of candidates. I have a feeling that the minister's figures on how much the limits would be were slightly out for some of the ridings he cited. I do not think he was using the latest figures; I think they were 5,000 or 10,000 low for each riding, though I may be mistaken. For 60,000 electors the limit for the candidate would be $28,750, for 80,000 electors the limit would be $33,750 and for a riding with 100,000 electors it would be $38,750.

Mr. Speaker, when the committee met I felt this was too generous and I said so, but others wanted higher limits. One or two members of the committee agreed with lower limits but we ended up with these. It may well be that two or three elections from now, with rising costs, those limits also will not be too high. It is a kind of political chicanery

May 18, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

if we limit candidates but do not limit parties. Parties can spend more on many things in provinces, regions and constituencies. Money can be spread around and cannot be proven to have been spent on behalf of any one candidate. What saddens me is that in traditional fashion the Liberal government can take a good principle, bring in legislation incorporating that principle and then proceed to pervert it with the provisions in the legislation.

Another item I should like to talk about is reimbursement. At least this provision is in the bill. Since 1933 my party has been advocating controls on levels of election expenses and reimbursement from the national wealth for election costs. What the government proposes is of most benefit to the well-heeled candidate; the poor candidate benefits least. A candidate is eligible for reimbursement if he receives 20 per cent of the valid votes cast. The committee recommended this, but I felt that 20 per cent of the valid votes cast was too harsh; I held out for 10 per cent and then for 121 per cent, and got to 15 per cent but was unable to persuade my colleagues on the committee. So 20 per cent of the valid votes cast was agreed upon.

Mr. Speaker, I contended then and I do now that any candidate who receives 10 per cent, 12 per cent or 15 per cent of the vote is not a nuisance candidate and should be entitled to some reimbursement. I regret that the government did not accept the committee's recommendation for the formula of reimbursement and I hope that it will when the bill gets to committee. The formula proposed by the government is intrinsically unfair, I think. The bill's formula proposes reimbursement in the aggregate of one-quarter of the candidate's election expenses and in the schedule III ridings, travel expenses plus $250. The committee recommended reimbursement for one first-class mailing per elector, which is eight cents per elector, three cents per elector for printing costs, five cents per elector for other campaign expenses for the first 25,000 electors, and three cents per elector for all over 25,000 electors.

Let us take my own constituency of Regina-Lake Centre as an example. As of June last year there were 63,036 electors 18 years of age and over. I might also tell you, Mr. Speaker, that it is a terrific, wonderful riding, with wonderful people-it also has 373 more women than men. Candidates in my constituency will be limited to spending $29,500. Under the government's formula for reimbursement they will be eligible for $7,625 if they spend the maximum and if they receive 20 per cent of the valid votes cast.

Under the committee's formula, Mr. Speaker, the qualifying candidate who received 20 per cent or more of the vote would be eligible for reimbursement of $8,070, about $400 more, provided the reimbursement did not exceed the total amount that the candidate actually spent. Therefore, a candidate without financial resources who received 20 per cent of the vote and who was only able to spend $5,000 would be eligible for a $5,000 reimbursement and still might lose his deposit of $200.

Surely this is fair play, Mr. Speaker; it equalizes the fight between candidates who have little or no financial resources and those who have all the resources they need. I submit that this is also a cheaper way of doing it, for the voters will pay through the national treasury less than they will pay through the corporate contributions given to

the old parties in this country. It would help to provide more freedom and equality in our electoral processes.

The third item I wish to mention is disclosure. I said that my party has advocated this since its founding in 1933. On the basis of political contributions honestly given, there is nothing to hide. My party has always prided itself-maybe sometimes we have sounded somewhat obnoxious and pure about it, but we think it is justifiable pride-that since 1933 we have printed annually the financial statements of our national party, the provincial sections of the party and provincial constituency associations of the party right across Canada. We have not made public the names of individual contributors unless they do it themselves. I hope no one will think that makes us sound hypocritical because we have always advocated full disclosure. However, we have always felt that it would be unfair to disclose the names of our contributors when there is no requirement on the other parties to do the same.

Mr. Speaker, the committee recommended a modified disclosure. I personally accepted the recommendation of the committee, though again I may get heck from some of my colleagues for that. There is one other thing that should be in the modified disclosure. Where reports are sent to the Minister of National Revenue for those contributions which would be eligible as tax deductions, and to the Chief Electoral Officer where the two reports do not jibe and where there is an obvious and blatant evasion of the elections act, the names of the contributors to that particular candidate, that particular party and that particular constituency would have to be made public. That in itself would serve as a deterrent of sufficient degree to cause any party or any candidate to be extra careful and ensure that there is not any hanky-panky with income tax receipts. There would be no juggling of books as between what was reported to the Chief Electoral Officer and what was reported to the Minister of National Revenue.

The committee recommended that contributions from foreign corporations, unions and foreign citizens be prohibited. We made that recommendation because we felt it was consistent because the elections act provides now that no non-resident corporation or individual may participate in a federal election campaign. I hope the minister will agree to an amendment in the area of contributions from foreign corporations, unions and citizens so that they will not be permitted and not be eligible for tax deductions. These should not be allowed in any case.

I submit that where violations occur when the Minister of National Revenue and the Chief Electoral Officer are comparing the two sets of reports, under the law the Minister of National Revenue should be allowed to disclose the names of contributors. The glare of publicity and shame that would fall upon that candidate and his party would be sufficient for then and ever after to prevent violations of the law as it pertains to election expenses and living up to our election legislation.

We are generally pleased with the provisions for broadcasting. This is another way of limiting the costs of election. There is one area where the paste-pot missed. In this, I agree with the hon. member for Hillsborough. While

May 18, 1972

there are limits for parties, there do not appear to be limits for candidates. Since there is no limit on the parties with regard to the funds they can raise, and there is no limit on the candidates as to how much television, radio and newspaper advertising they can buy, what is to prevent the party siphoning money into riding after riding for candidates to spend up to the limits which they are allowed on advertising? The bill is inconsistent in this respect.

Some provision has to be incorporated in the bill limiting the candidates as well as the parties in the broadcasting field. On the one hand we do not limit parties and limit the candidates when it comes to funds and on the other we limit the parties but do not limit the candidates when it comes to broadcasting. I hope the government House leader will agree that these inconsistencies need to be ironed out in committee.

With regard to shortening the election campaign, I submit that what the special committee really had in mind, if I may say this so to the hon. member for Hillsborough, was that 56 to 59 days campaign time is not too short. It is barely sufficient time for the Chief Electoral Officer to prepare and for party organizations to prepare for and conduct their campaigns. If you are really going to campaign among the people, call on them, and if our election is to be something more than radio, television and newspaper advertising, you require six to seven weeks. This is necessary if you are to meet thousands of electors.

The committee felt, and I feel, that the public is not demanding a shortening of campaigns, a shortening of the time between the writs being issued and the election date but a shortening of the time in which they are bombarded with television, radio and newspaper advertising ad nauseam until they are so fed up they pay no attention to the political issues. We urge that the length of time during which broadcasting may be carried out should be limited to the last four weeks of the campaign. This is why we said 29 days. If you knock off the day of prohibition, there are 28 days in which broadcasting and advertising can be permitted. A shortening of the campaign for broadcasting time is feasible and it is what the majority of the public want.

We were disregarded when we suggested offering tax credits for income tax payers. I find this strange, when Mr. Carter proposed tax credits instead of exemptions and when tax credits were advocated in this House for individual citizens instead of exemptions, that the government said it cannot be done. However, the government finds it is something different when it comes to tax credits for corporations in other areas. How we have tax credits for political contributions. All of a sudden, it can be done.

I suspect that whether you allow political contributions as deductions from net income for income tax purposes or whether you allow a tax credit, in terms of dollars to the national treasury and in terms of savings to taxpayers it is six of one and half a dozen of another. May I illustrate my point by saying the committee recommended that a citizen be allowed to deduct from net income up to $1,000 a year for a contribution to a party, and in an election year an additional $1,000 a year contribution to a candidate. In an election year he could deduct $2,000 from his net income. If your tax rate is 25 per cent, you save $500 on income

Election Expenses Bill

tax. The bill proposes allowing a $500 tax credit as a maximum. In dollars and cents, it does not make very much difference. However, it is encouraging in a sense that maybe this kind of move to tax credits will speed up the day when we have tax credits in our income tax law for the individual taxpayer, instead of exemptions.

I submit there are three areas that are most urgent and require scrutiny. First, the area of disclosure. If the government cannot and will not agree to full disclosure of all political contributors, I hope it will at least agree to a furthering of the modified disclosure provisions in the bill. Where there is a violation of the election law, the names of contributors to that candidate, that party in that constituency would be made public.

The second area is that of reimbursement. I hope the minister will agree to drop the government's formula and include in the bill the formula recommended by the committee. I submit it is much more fair. It does not discriminate against the candidate who has limited or no financial resources. It provides for a more equal and fair reimbursement for all candidates provided they qualify under provision concerning 20 per cent of the votes cast. I hope the minister will consider lowering that 20 per cent floor to at least 15 per cent. In fact, I hope he will agree that any candidate who gets 10, 12 or 15 per cent of the popular vote is not a nuisance candidate and should be entitled to reimbursement.

Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, I say to the government House leader it is a "must" that we incorporate an additional clause in the bill to provide for a limitation on parties the same as is provided for candidates. Unless we have a limitation on parties' expenditures, the whole intent, purpose and most of the principle of the legislation is nullified or set aside. We are asking for abuse. In future elections, politics and politicians will be brought into even more disrepute by the citizens of this country.

May I call it ten o'clock Mr. Speaker?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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May 18, 1972