May 25, 1972

LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

The hon. member for

Lotbiniere on a point of order.

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

André-Gilles Fortin

Social Credit

Mr. Fortin:

Mr. Speaker, the Creditiste members refrained from voting because this was a waste of time and a silly game on the part of the Progressive Conservatives.

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

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order. Obviously, the hon. member will agree with the Chair that this point of order is groundless.

Election Expenses Bill

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

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

A point of order, Mr. Speaker-

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

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

The hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Baldwin)-order please.

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

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

-the taxpayers' money.

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

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order, please. The hon. member for Peel South (Mr. Chappell).

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

Hyliard G. Chappell

Liberal

Mr. Hyl Chappell (Peel South):

Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the committee may I remind all hon. members how the report on election expenses came about. The Barbeau Committee, consisting of Mr. Alphonse Barbeau, the Honourable M. J. Coldwell, Mr. Gordon R. Dryden, Mr. A. R, Smith and Dr. Norman Ward, and which included representatives from the major parties, was appointed in October 1964 and submitted its report on election expenses in October 1966.

In the last session, pursuant to an order of the House dated October 8, 1970, a special committee considered the comprehensive two volume report of the Barbeau Committee, the new election expenses legislation of Quebec, Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions, held 45 meetings, heard dozens of witnesses including representatives of the main political parties, the legislative assemblies of Quebec and Nova Scotia, the government of Puerto Rico, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the CBC, the CRTC, Chief Electoral Officers of Canada, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and many others.

In considering the report and Bill C-211, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that one must start with four basic principles. First, a candidate cannot hope to be elected unless he spreads his message effectively. With today's costs and more populous ridings, this can be quite expensive and perhaps prohibitive. Second, there is an advantage to a candidate with wealth, whether inherited or earned. Effective controls on spending and a modest financial contribution to a candidate's expenses would substantially remove this inequity. Third, all costs cannot be paid by the public treasury; the greater proportion of funds must continue to come in the form of voluntary donations from supporters of the candidate and the party. Research has indicated that if a great deal of money comes from the government, people are reluctant to give because they feel the candidate is well looked after. Fourth, it is a myth that large contributions lie waiting for willing receivers. Funds are difficult to obtain both for the individual candidate and the parties. Legislation must be clear and positive to encourage contributions through tax incentives, protection of the name of the donor and protection of the candidate against overcharge by radio, T.V. and the press and by controls on the amount which he can spend both in respect of an over-all ceiling and the period of time during which he may spend money during a campaign.

The Barbeau report was an excellent and comprehensive document, but it is five years old. Many changes have taken place since it was submitted, and we have had the advantage of hearing comments on its proposals and on the Quebec and Nova Scotia legislation. While the committee digressed from the report considerably, I hope we have come up with something good. After complete study

May 25, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

of the bill, I find myself in agreement with the basic principles and the framework; in fact I take pride that so much of our work was adopted. However, I seek improvement in some of the concepts and many of the details.

I support the principle of a contribution to the candidate who receives a certain percentage of the vote; the principle of limited tax relief to those who contribute in the form of a percentage tax credit. I support, too, the idea of making T.V. and radio available to all in order that each may spread his message and that charges for these services be held to the regular preferred rate. I support the principle of agency, which means that candidates and parties are fully responsible for the actions of their agents, i n.] I support the principle that spending by candidates should be fully controlled. The bill, in its definition of election expenses, does not go far enough and I shall ask that it be strengthened and widened.

The Baroeau Committee recommended selective controls on advertising because it felt wider controls could not be enforced. We disagreed and came up with the idea that if each candidate were required to have his own accountant audit his report, the control would be effective. The bill follows the Barbeau report for controls on advertising only, and our recommendation for the audit.

The bill's definition of election expenses omits costs for hiring halls, campaign headquarters, paid workers, entertainment, refreshments, paid scrutineers and other items which in some ridings could constitute the majority of the expense.

Let me give two examples. A wealthy industrialist could call on perhaps 100 of his employees as paid canvassers and that would not come within the definition. In another riding, if a candidate had the support of labour and there was a strike on, he could call for 100 or 200 of the striking labourers to canvass for him and that would not come under expenses as described in the bill, but it would have been included in election expenses as described in the report. The report would prevent this by including in the definition of election expenses all time paid for directly or indirectly; the only time which would be omitted would be time some person contributed freely. In a riding consisting of small villages and towns, halls and lounges could be made available with entertainment and refreshment similar to that of drop-in centres, and these certainly would substantially affect the result of the election. Those expenses would not come within the definition of the bill, although they would come within the definition in the report. I submit that those expenses ought to be added to election expenses.

I do not support the concept that the names of donors should be disclosed to the public. As the law now stands, the official agent discloses the names of donors making donations which go through him. However, secrecy can be maintained easily by causing the donation to go through a nominee, usually the chairman of the riding association. He simply collects in private all those donations and then sends one large cheque to the official agent. Under this bill, all donations would have to go to the official agent. The result is that this bill, read with the present legislation-or, putting it another way, the legislation, as amend-

ed by this bill-would require every donation to a candidate to be identified by name; that is, it would require full disclosure.

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

Lee Elgy Grills

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Grills:

How would you do it?

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

Hyliard G. Chappell

Liberal

Mr. Chappell:

We questioned each of the witnesses on disclosure of names, and concluded that names should be disclosed to the Minister of National Revenue for policing purposes but that they should not be disclosed to the public, because that would be counter-productive and donations would dry up.

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

Lee Elgy Grills

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Grills:

But how would you do all this?

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

Hyliard G. Chappell

Liberal

Mr. Chappell:

The Barbeau committee report recommended that donations to parties should not be disclosed but that donations to candidates should be disclosed. We concluded that this would distort the balance between the party and the candidate, because some would feel that it was more appropriate to give donations to the party than to the candidate. We think this should not be allowed to happen. This distortion and upsetting of balance should not be allowed to take place. It would be useless to require the disclosure of donations over a certain amount, for example, $100. Some in this House have made this argument. Such a requirement would be too easy to avoid. A man, by giving through his wife, could double his donation; by using his two children, he could quadruple it; if he were to use his friends and give through them, he might be able to give ten times as much as the law permits. Such action would simply bring the law into ridicule.

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

Lee Elgy Grills

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Grills:

That is what this bill will do.

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

Hyliard G. Chappell

Liberal

Mr. Chappell:

In addition, disclosure of names would discourage giving because of possible community repercussions. One of the witnesses before the committee was an NDP member from Nova Scotia. He pointed out that if a list were published in small towns of those who had given donations, there would be embarrassment and resentment. I think many hon. members would agree with that.

Let us take, for example, the operator of a large garage in a small town. Suppose he gave $100 to the Liberal, Conservative and NDP parties, and his donation was published. If, during the next election campaign, canvassers for each of the candidates were to go to him and ask for donations, I suggest that it would be only natural if he were to say, "All three of you can go away; you published my name as a donor, and I will not give to anybody." I have always marvelled that people who do not give, and generally those who want disclosure of names do not give, should request that donations of $1, $2, $3 or $5, which every good citizen should give to the candidate of his choice, shall be disclosed, and that we shall thereby breech the secrecy of the ballot, which ig what would happen in effect. We hope to separate the basis of contribution, and that is why tax credits are to be preferred in this connection, rather than complete disclosure of all donations. If people were to give $1, $2, $3 or $5 on a wide basis, to many candidates, disclosing their names would be equivalent to disclosing whom they supported and how they voted.

May 25, 1972

The members from Puerto Rico who met with our committee, who are experts in the sense that they were on an equivalent committee, suggested that we have the best of both worlds. We have both disclosure and protection of privacy, since we must disclose either to the Minister of National Revenue or some minister of the Crown for policing purposes, but disclose to the public only the total donations and not the names of the donors.

I do not agree with the suggestion that the election campaign period be without limit. This is a major point with respect to which we agree with the Barbeau report. All the witnesses before us were unanimous in this view. If there is not a limit on the advertising period, one candidate may be forced to follow the lead of the other candidate, since his backers might say, "Let us get going; your people are losing morale. Get in there and spend money in the advertising field." After a month or so, a candidate may have expended the amount allowed for advertising. He would then spend money on other items which are not included in the definition "election expenses" in the bill, thus, of course, increasing his expenses.

May I raise another point which is perhaps more difficult to appreciate but which is most important. There are four recognized parties in this country; obviously, they will register. In addition, there are perhaps four or six other parties, not so recognized, which will also register. These parties are entitled to use the six and a half hour period which is made available to all parties. On the twenty-eighth day of the campaign they would lose their registration rights if they had not fielded 50 candidates. The twenty-eighth day, I suggest, is too late for action to be taken, since these minor parties would have used three or four hours of the time available to them simply to bring their personal message to the world, to tell the world about some cause they espouse. The result would be that people would have lost the right to hear the representatives of other parties which seriously hope to form the government. If this campaigning were limited to 28 days, as the committee suggested, that problem would not arise.

As the law now stands, successful candidates file their reports and the majority of unsuccessful candidates have no alternative-I suggest that this matter would be raised in the House if there were anything amiss-and do not do so. I ought to have said, Mr. Speaker, that the majority of unsuccessful candidates do not report. The only penalty, as I understand the act, for those who do not report is this: They will not be able to stand for election on another occasion if a court so orders. This has been completely ineffective. We recommend that the chief electoral officer should be required by law to see that all reports are filed. Under questioning by our committee, he said he was agreeable to shouldering that responsibility. The bill provides for payment of $250 towards the cost of an audited report for those candidates who receive 20 per cent or more of the votes cast. I suggest that we change that provision and allow $250 to every candidate to meet the expenses of the audited report. I think it is wrong to charge somebody who can honestly say, "I used every penny I had and I did not have $250 left", because, in the result, we would be sending that man to jail for not having enough money. However, I do not think the public should lose. He has to make a deposit of $200. I suggest this sum

Election Expenses Bill

be increased to $250. In other words, we would divert his forfeited deposit to pay the auditor for the report.

Recommendation 34 allowed between 13 and 14 cents per elector by way of reimbursement to a candidate who had received 20 per cent or more of the votes cast. This was equivalent to the cost of a stamp and a respectable brochure for each elector. We felt this was the basic minimum to which the public was entitled in order to learn about the man himself and his platform. For a constituency of 50,000 he would be reimbursed to the extent of $6,500; if he had a large constituency of 100,000 voters he would get 13 cents for the next 50,000, another $6,500, or a total of $13,000. The bill would allow him to be reimbursed to the extent of 25 per cent of the amount he spent on advertizing only.

But supposing a candidate spent all his money on advertizing. Supposing, also he had limited funds and spent only $10,000 on his campaign. He would get back only $2,500. The result would be he would be prevented from using money which he might have borrowed from a bank and paid back from his reimbursement. So, also, in the bill, a person with a constituency of 100,000 electors would be disadvantaged. Under the committee's report, he would have received 13 cents for each additional elector over 50,000. That, as I said before, would have been $6,500. Under the bill he will receive only half that amount, or $3,250, which is in no way enough to send the simplest scrap of paper to 50,000 electors. It is my suggestion that the amount of reimbursement be based upon the number of electors in the constituency.

There is another unfair situation which could arise. In some constituencies in which there is a local television station, the candidate could spend all his campaign funds on advertizing over television and he would be reimbursed to the extent of 25 per cent. But in a rural riding where there was no television station he might decide to hire halls and provide refreshment and entertainment. That would be his method of campaigning. But he would not get back 5 cents. Under our recommendation No. 13, we would limit reimbursement to the winner and anyone who obtained 50 per cent the vote the winner received or 20 per cent of the total of votes cast. The bill omits reimbursement for the 50 per cent. I would remind hon. members that in some constituencies, particularly in Quebec, there might be five, six or seven candidates. The winner might receive only 35 per cent of the votes cast, the second 19 per cent, and the third 18 per cent. It seems wrong that under those circumstances, a man who came second should not be reimbursed. I suggest he should be included.

In recommendation No. 3, we recommend that political parties be made legal entities for the purposes of suing and being sued, and owning and leasing property. It is time political parties became full adults in terms of being responsible for their financial transactions. The bill, in clause 13(5), appears to make the parties legal entities only for the purposes of enforcing the Act. I may be wrong. Perhaps the courts will determine that they are also legal entities for the purpose of suing and being sued. I suggest this be made clear; it ought not to be necessary to go to

May 25, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

court to have the matter cleared up. I suggest we follow the wording in the committee's report.

Recommendation 38 would prevent a non-resident, including a union or a corporation, from contributing in any way to a political party or candidate. Section 36 of the Canada Elections Act prohibits non-residents of Canada from campaigning in Canada. We felt our recommendation was reasonable as an extension of that idea, and consistent with the long established principle that nonresidents might not campaign in Canada.

In the select committee, we had good attendance and excellent co-operation. The committee worked hard for a long period. I suggest to the President of the Privy Council (Mr. MacEachen) that the House take advantage of the wealth of knowledge acquired by members who sat on that committee, and that the bill be referred to that committee, which could be reconstituted, for further consideration.

In conclusion, I should say I am pleased with the broad principles of the bill, and pleased that so many of our suggestions have been adopted. I hope that many of the ideas which have been put forward today will be incorporated in the measure during the committee stage and accepted by the House.

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

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Hon. George Hees (Prince Edward-Hastings):

Mr. Speaker, the objective of the bill we are discussing is to reduce election expenses which are borne by a candidate in a general election so that there will be the least possible obstacle in the way of a young man or woman with ability, but with limited means, who wishes to run for parliament. This is an objective with which we all agree, because it is a well known fact that parliament is only as good as the people who are elected to it, and to get the best we must make sure that we remove as many as possible of the difficulties which stand in the way of getting the best people elected.

One of these obstacles is the high cost of running an election, due to the increasing use of the costly medium of television and the sharp increases which have taken place in the cost of radio, direct mail and the many other forms of advertizing which are in popular use. Although I agree with the objective of this bill, I believe that the government has outlined an inadequate method of realizing this objective, and I would like to suggest what I believe to be a far better means of bringing about what we all have in mind.

We have just heard a speech by the chairman of the committee which considered this whole question of controlling election expenses. From him, we learn that the government has paid relatively little attention to the recommendations of that committee which obviously spent a great deal of time studying the whole subject and hearing witnesses. I believe the committee did a thoroughly good job of trying to come to a conclusion that would be beneficial to the government in drafting the bill that is before us. But obviously the government has paid very little attention to the recommendations of the committee, and therefore I endorse the suggestion the chairman of the committee has just urged upon the House, that is to send this bill back to committee for redrafting so we may

receive the sensible type of suggestions that the committee put forward for the consideration of the government.

I should like now to suggest what I believe to be a far better means of bringing about what we would like to do, which is to make it possible for young men and women with ability but limited means to be elected to this chamber. Even though the government did pay a great deal of attention to the recommendations of the committee that examined this whole question, I think on hearing the simple plan that I am about to put forward the members of the House of Commons will agree that it is a reasonable plan, one that would be easy to implement and which would work very satisfactorily in achieving the objective we all have in mind.

In looking for plans that would be useful to meet the needs of given situations, it is always helpful to examine what has been successfully done by others in similar circumstances. I have very carefully studied, and observed at first hand, the plan that has been used with great success for a number of years now in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom was faced with exactly the same problem that Canada is faced with today, but it overcame the problem by adopting a plan that placed a strict limitation upon the amount of money that a candidate was allowed to spend in an election, and enforced the restriction by carefully scrutinizing all election expenditure. If at the conclusion of an election it was found that a candidate had overspent the amount of money that the government allowed him to spend in an election campaign, his election to parliament was nullified.

The expenditure that is allowed in the United Kingdom is based on the number of electors in a riding. My experience from running in eight elections, six in urban ridings and two in mostly rural ridings, leads me to believe that the limit today in this country should be 10 cents per voter. That is the kind of limitation that would bring about the objective that we all have in mind and in the easiest and fairest way possible. Since the average riding in Canada has about 45,000 voters this would reduce the cost of running in an election in Canada to about $4,500 per candidate. This would be a fair charge to a candidate and his party, and would be a very great reduction of the cost of running in most ridings today. National television, radio and newspaper advertising would, of course, be paid for by the national headquarters of each party on a basis that would be established by parliament.

Such a reduction in the cost of running in an election would bring about two very important improvements. First is the obvious one of making it possible for all good, potential candidates to stand for their party's nomination. The second is that all candidates would be required to do far more personal campaigning than they do today, and as they are required to do in Great Britain, since most means of campaigning that money makes available in this country today would not be open to them. Candidates would have to do a great deal more door-to door campaigning and present themselves to the voter at many election meetings, where they would have to submit themselves to the questioning of the electorate and be judged on a much more fair and accurate basis than they are at the present time. Having made it possible for voters in this

May 25, 1972

country to judge more accurately the candidates who present themselves to be judged, I believe that we would be more certain that the best candidate would be selected to represent a riding, and in this way the quality and standards of the House of Commons would be materially improved.

If we follow such a plan as this, it would no longer be possible for a wealthy man, one who can afford high-priced public relations men, television, and other costly means of advertising that are available today, literally to buy his way into parliament.

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):

You will be in trouble, George.

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

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

I am very interested to hear that comment, Mr. Speaker. If the hon. member who made it would go back over any of the eight elections in which I have run, he would find that I was one of the most enthusiastic exponents of door to door canvassing. The reason I have been able to maintain my membership here is that I believe in personal campaigning, which is why I speak with such enthusiasm about it.

Another change that I would suggest we make in the electoral procedures of this country is one that would not only reduce the cost of running elections but greatly improve the quality of the presentations that the various candidates make to the people they ask to elect them. I suggest that we cut the length of the election period from the present eight weeks to four. The eight-week period was necessary in the days when rail transport was the only means of getting the leaders across the country and there was no jet travel or television. In those days it took an eighj; week period for the party leaders to travel across the country and discuss the issues with the people. Today, as we know very well, jet travel and television enable all issues to be discussed in all parts of the country in an absolute maximum of four weeks. We who have participated in elections, and certainly the people who have to listen to us, know only too well that after four weeks there is nothing new left to be said and the whole election campaign becomes dry, dull, boring and extremely costly.

Therefore, I believe it would be very worthwhile for the government and the country to maintain a permanent voters' list, just as is done in Great Britain and in many other countries. Although this would cost some money, it would greatly reduce the over-all cost of elections both to the parties and the candidates. After all, that is what this measure is all about. It is designed to reduce the cost of running an election, and to make it as easy as possible for young men and women with ability but with limited means to present themselves with every chance of becoming elected.

I strongly urge the government to give some consideration to what I have said. This will not cost the government or the taxpayers of this country one penny, except for the added cost of maintaining a permanent voters' list, and I think everyone would agree that this additional cost would be worthwhile. These measures are simple; they have been tried and proven successful and workable in a country far more sophisticated in election matters than

Election Expenses Bill

are we, namely Great Britain, as well as many other countries. I am confident that these measures will work equally as well in Canada.

I strongly urge the government to accept these suggestions in the spirit in which they are made and to adopt these measures. I believe if they are adopted we will greatly increase the effectiveness of this House by making it possible to get the very best candidates elected, including the young men and women with ability but with limited funds who would make a very great contribution to the governing of this country.

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

Yves Forest

Liberal

Mr. Yves Forest (Brome-Missisquoi):

Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of taking part in the Special Committee on Election Expenses as a vice-chairman. The chairman of this committee was our distinguished colleague from Peel South (Mr. Chappell) who spoke earlier and who fulfilled his functions with much tact, skill and efficiency.

Our sessions were quite lengthy and often complex, but the committee members showed much patience, good will and understanding despite the different views, which were inevitable, about a subject on which we all pretend to be quite experts.

It must be noted that the committee received advice from a legal adviser who, most of the time, was assisted by the Chief Electoral Officer, whose skill and work we all admire. Their advice was very valuable to all committee members.

We also had the report prepared by the previous members of this committee, who made much deeper and further studies on the subject, that is the report of the special committee established by the government in 1964, whose chairman was Mr. Alphonse Barbeau-now judge of the Superior Court of Quebec-and made up of recognized experts from different parties, which presented the result of its investigations and discussions in 1966.

This committee was appointed as a result of public concern about the source of election funds as well as a need for a reform in order to curb the continuing increase in election expenses, in particular since it became necessary to use new means of communications, which are very clostly and expensive.

The committees' reports and this bill aim at improving the situation of the parties and candidates, at increasing the people's confidence in our system of parties while guaranteeing the individual's liberty of choosing not only the man, his party and his philosophy but also the way it should be supported.

Contrary to popular belief, the lack of funds is a painful aspect from which the political existence of parties and candidates is suffering. Their financing has always caused precarious situations. The very minor importance given to the financing of our political institutions is unbelievable in view of the crushing responsibilities entrusted by our system to the parties and candidates who, among other things, are required to explain to our citizens the objective and efficiency of laws, the decisions and actions liable to affect their way of life and often their existence.

May 25, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

Mr. Speaker, as many of my colleagues, after having studied a number of times the election systems of various countries, I believe that our election legislation is excellent-probably the best-and well-fitted to the special needs of our great country.

Some people have already mentioned the advisability of establishing a permanent list of voters-in fact, the first spokesman for the official opposition and the speaker before me suggested it-as a desirable measure to shorten the duration of election campaigns.

I am opposed to this suggestion and the committee which considered the report tabled by the representation commissioner in this House in April 1968 was unanimously against the establishment of such a list, which would be not only costly-I think the figure amounted to $1 a year per voter-but would be far from efficient in a political system such as ours because elections are not held at a fixed date and the people would probably not welcome compulsory registration or compulsory vote. So, I refer my colleagues to the report of the committee and to the very eloquent report tabled in the House by the representation commissioner, who has examined these various systems.

The question of limiting the duration of election campaigns has been the subject of suggestions this afternoon by the previous speaker and also the subject of discussions both in the Committee on Privileges and Elections and in the Committee on Elections Expenses and we all agreed that the present period is necessary to allow parties and the Chief Electoral Officer to prepare and get organized. However, I believe, together with committee members, that the period during which political propaganda by parties and candidates on radio or television and in newspapers is allowed should be limited to the last month or so before election day.

This would effectively reduce election expenses but I think that despite the improvement in communications to which the hon. member for Prince Edward-Hastings (Mr. Hees) referred earlier, the prescribed period is necessary to arrange elections in a country as large as ours.

Mr. Speaker, the so-called Barbeau Committee had made seven basic recommendations aimed at establishing a more equitable electoral system. I must say that these recommendations are adequately taken into account in the bill now before us. In line with the proposal of our committee, the bill does not however retain the sixth recommendation of the Barbeau Committee suggesting that a registry be established by means of another legislation to audit the various financial returns. It simply amends the Canada Elections Act to enable the chief electoral officer to receive the returns of official agents, and I think that the government has rightly upheld this decision of the special committee on election expenses which made it the subject of one of its recommendations.

The first recommendation of the Barbeau report dealt with the recognition of political parties that would become responsible for their actions respecting the collection and expenditure of election funds through an official agent.

The 1970 Canada Elections Act already provides that political parties shall register with the chief electoral officer, under certain conditions. This legislation goes even farther by requiring the registration of agents who alone shall be authorized to receive contributions and who shall be assisted by an auditor for each party. This auditor shall report to the chief agent who, in turn, shall report, within the prescribed period, to the chief electoral officer. The reports shall indicate the parties' sources of income, detailing the categories of contributors, and shall be published. The importance and existence of parties being thus recognized, they shall become legally responsible for their actions.

Candidates must also appoint an auditor to assist their agents to produce the required report on election expenses and sources of income. This is an innovation and fortunately the government will contribute to paying the salary of this auditor.

I agree with the committee chairman and approve the recommendations of the special committee to the effect that it would not be fitting to reveal the names of donors, and this for the same reasons mentioned earlier by the hon. member for Peel-South (Mr. Chappell) which moreover are reproduced after recommendation 44 of the report of the Special Committee on Election Expenses.

The bill thus meets the first and fifth recommendations of the Barbeau Committee to a great extent. The bill, as also the Barbeau committee conclusions, provides no ceiling for total expenses of parties and candidates which henceforth will be known, notwithstanding the suggestion of the special committee. I for one feel that this is a mistake and that a limit should be set, even if it should exceed if necessary, the one suggested, subject to revision after the first general election for which the present bill will have been in force.

The bill retains the limits proposed by the special committee, but only where advertising expenses are concerned. It is a fact that nowadays the latter make up the better part of election expenses, and that this trend can only become more accentuated. For instance, Mr. Speaker, figures submitted to the committee with regard to the election of April 29, 1970, in the province of Quebec showed that 71.37 per cent of the election expenses of the five running parties had gone on advertising. A candidate will be able to claim back 25 per cent of eligible expenses, which is appreciable. I rather advocate the formula adopted by the special committee, which gives the candidate far more flexibility and freedom of action in the thrust of his advertising.

I am very happy, however, that this bill incorporates the recommendations of the two committees which I have mentioned concerning the mailing to voters, a few days before the election, of a special notice informing them of the names and political affiliations of candidates, of the addresses of polling stations, and of polling times, and that from now on candidates will not be allowed to distribute cards in their constituencies, as had become common practice. This will save candidates time and money, and voters will still be very well informed.

I would like to deal very briefly with two major proposals endorsed by the Barbeau Commission and the special committee-tax deductions granted to contributors in

May 25, 1972

order to encourage public participation in political life, and measures designed to democratize access to radio and television at election time-both excellent innovations.

This bill provides for a tax deduction of one third, up to a maximum of $500, of contributions made annually to registered parties or to candidates through authorized agents who will have to file a report. The special committee had rather recommended the introduction of tax relief for individuals and corporations. This is, however, an excellent measure which should encourage the public to participate in the financing of our political parties, a thing for which it has always showed very little interest, and the results will be most interesting to watch.

Finally, the bill aims at limiting to 6j hours the broadcasting time allowed the registered parties at election time, according to the recommendation of the special committee. This time will be divided up fairly among the parties, under the authority of the CRTC, and I believe that formula has already given good results. It is only fair that the cost be shared by the government and the parties themselves that will benefit from the arrangement.

I want to point out a well-advised innovation which will be welcomed by all the candidates and which is already enshrined in the Quebec Election Act. As everyone is aware, election campaigns signal the revival of the almost general practice whereby the rates of advertisement in newspapers, over the radio and television are boosted. From now on, rates will be based on the lowest rates applicable to customers for comparable advertisements. This reform was imperative and is intended to rectify an unjust situation.

Mr. Speaker, the president of the Privy Council (Mr. MacEachen) indicated that, except with regard to fundamental principles, he was willing to listen to the recommendations of hon. members, and of the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections to which the bill will be referred, and where we will have the opportunity of discussing it further and suggesting amendments. Meantime, the government must be congratulated for having introduced this bill with a view to bringing in several important and interesting changes in a complex field which touches upon the very basis of our democratic life.

This is an important step towards improving further a system that was not perfect but which won Canada the reputation of holding elections that truly reflect the will of the people.

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. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, when this debate began on Thursday, May 18, my colleague the hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre (Mr. Benjamin) indicated that we are in support of the principle of this bill. But in that same speech he pointed out that in the bill there are some very serious flaws. Even by the time my colleague reached the end of his speech, he found it necessary to say this:

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'

Election Expenses Bill

expenditure, the whole intent, purpose and most of the principle of the legislation is nullified or set aside.

I may say on behalf of the members of this party, including the hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre (Mr. Benjamin), that our further and more detailed study of this bill has led us to the conviction that although there are a number of things in it that are good, the bill itself completely fails to implement the principle that we support and the principle that the bill is supposed to implement. We have had that drawn to our attention in mild but very effective terms this afternoon by the hon. member for Peel South (Mr. Chappell) who was the chairman of the special committee that considered this whole question. Even he, before he got to the end of his speech, pleaded with the President of the Privy Council (Mr. MacEachen) that Bill C-211 be sent back to the special committee, and that the special committee be reconstituted for that purpose, so that it might participate in the drafting of a better piece of legislation.

The position that we take is that this bill, although it is presented to us as a bill to control election expenses and to do certain other things with respect to elections, completely fails to do what it proposes to do and we feel that to pass this bill off on the people of Canada in its present form is to perpetrate another hoax. In our view, the government is trading on the general and popular interest in the idea of doing something about election expenses and it hopes that because it has presented a bill which is called a bill dealing with election expenses the public will swallow it and think that something good has been done.

In our view, if this bill were passed and put on the statute books, it would fail to do the job that it is supposed to do, and its presence on the statute books would be a bar to getting a decent piece of legislation for a long time to come. Therefore, we feel, as does the hon. member for Peel South, only perhaps we feel a bit stronger about it than he does, that this bill in its present form should not be proceeded with. It should either be sent back to the special committee that dealt with this matter or it should be sent back to the government and a totally new piece of legislation should be introduced.

I suspect, Mr. Speaker, that you realize that I am making it very clear that it is our intention to vote against this bill in its present form so that you will realize that when I propose at the end of my speech a reasoned amendment you will see that it is not one of those amendments with which you sometimes have to cope, the kind that seem to go both ways. Ours is an amendment that says that this bill should be stopped in its progress and, instead, that a totally different piece of legislation should be introduced.

In the reasoned amendment which I shall move, I shall indicate at least two of the important principles which should be contained in a better piece of legislation. I may say that we gave a good deal of consideration to the question of whether those principles could be obtained by making amendments to this bill, and we have come to the conclusion that that cannot be done. I state that both in procedural terms and in substantive terms. We therefore feel that this bill in its present form should not be proceeded with but that the House should stop it in its tracks,

May 25, 1972

Election Expenses Bill

and call upon the government to bring in another piece of legislation.

This whole question of election expenses is one that has been before us for a long, long time! It was a live issue before any of us in this chamber came here. But in recent years it has been a particularly lively issue, and no one has done more to popularize the idea that something should be done about the control of election expenses and about putting candidates on an equal footing than the present Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) himself. At a press conference on April 7, 1968, in the city of Ottawa the following question was put to the Prime Minister:

Do you intend to do anything about implementing the report of the Election Expenses Committee?

That, I may say in parenthesis, was the report that was tabled in 1966. The rest of the question was:

It seems to me this is rather fundamental to the just society which you mentioned.

The answer of the Prime Minister was very terse but very much to the point:

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

That was in 1968. Later that same year, on June 4, 1968, in the city of Edmonton the Prime Minister said:

There are many aspects of the just society. It includes electoral reform so that the citizen really has a right to express his choice, his political choice, freely and without basing himself on how much money a party can get.

A few days later, on June 10, 1968, speaking over the CBC the Prime Minister said:

The important thing is that our laws and our election laws be reformed in order to make sure all parties are on as equal a footing as possible by reducing election expenses, by making the government assume as large a part of the election expenses of all parties as is possible.

I say, therefore, that no one gets more credit for this issue being a lively one today than the present Prime Minister. Mind you, when, as a result of these statements, we pressed him for action on the matter of the election expenses, we were put off; we were given the old answer about the crowded state of the parliamentary timetable, and so on, and we were told there was not time to do anything about it before the next election whenever it might come. But now in this pre-election period-however long the period may be-when we seem to be getting various kinds of goodies, we have been handed this bill. The trouble is that that word does not apply to this piece of legislation. It passes itself off as doing something about election expenses but it completely fails to establish the kind of equality to which the Prime Minister referred.

Mr. Speaker, since you are about to get to your feet I shall sit down, but I shall have something more to say about this matter at eight o'clock.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ELECTION EXPENSES BILL
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO CANADA ELECTIONS ACT AND INCOME TAX ACT
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION

May 25, 1972