June 5, 2003 (37th Parliament, 2nd Session)

LIB

Serge Marcil

Liberal

Mr. Serge Marcil (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is rather unfortunate that my colleague across the way has focussed solely on lobbyists who represent the private sector.
Bill C-15 is not only about lobbyists representing the private sector. As well as these who are seeking to meet members, ministers, public servants, there are also lobbyists representing not for profit organizations, public bodies and community groups. There are plenty, and I often have them come to my office. I often have visits from them.
They are merely trying to make a point, and goodness knows the hon. member has belaboured it. In all of the speeches I have heard, there were comments about all manner of things that had nothing to do with the main subject at hand, which is the amendment made to Bill C-15.
I would like to see the member also address the fact that Bill C-15 obliges people to file returns. Legislation on lobbyists is not there to stop lobbying. It is there rather to encourage that activity and provide a framework for it, so that there will be greater transparency and so that the public will know who they are and what they are doing. That is the purpose of this bill.
As a result, it concerns the entire community, all public and parapublic bodies, all NGOs, and there are plenty of them. I will give one example. Sainte-Cécile cathedral in my riding was burned down. How many people do you suppose wanted to meet with the people at Canadian Heritage? They want to meet the minister or the senior officials to discuss their problem. They are not coming here to make money, but to look for help. As a result, they want to have the opportunity to meet with decision-makers. We want to know who these lobbyists are and what positions they held previously. That is what the proposed amendment will clarify.
So, Bill C-15, which has existed for many years, goes even further than the lobbying legislation which exists in Quebec and which was introduced only last year. Quebec did not have lobbying legislation until then. The province was forced to pass legislation last year, or two years ago, because of scandals that surfaced under the former PQ government that was in power at the time. Quebec understood that there needed to be rules for people, especially former employees who worked in offices and who were setting up companies and lobbying. That is what the Government of Quebec learned, and so it drafted legislation to regulate lobbying.
The bill before us amends an act that has been around for years and, in fact, promotes access to officials, politicians or ministers. The bill on a code of conduct for members, for parliamentarians also further clarifies the role of members of Parliament. Contrary to what my colleague opposite says, the role of members of Parliament is not to lobby.
Members are elected to study legislation, to sit in the House and to vote on bills. Our main role is not to lobby for a business or an organization in our riding. That is not the basic role of a parliamentarian. We are here to draft, debate and vote on legislation.
It would be nice if the member opposite could at least have a more open mind and discuss some of the benefits of the act to amend the Lobbyists Registration Act in Canada in his speech.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Lobbyists Registration Act
Full View