Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak this one last time in the House of Commons. This will probably be my last attempt at effecting change from the government.
It is appropriate that the bill that I should be speaking to is one of democratic principles. I ran in 1988 based on the need to bring democratic principles back to the Canadian electoral system. This bill is a result of the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledging that the legislation that the government had put into place was not democratic.
This bill is addressing the decision of the Supreme Court that it was undemocratic to require a party to run 50 candidates in an election. If two people wanted to represent a party to represent a cause, an idea or an issue, that should be allowed as long as there were some other things they managed to do, and that is to show that they had some following and some people agreed with their position.
The bill that has been introduced to address the Supreme Court's decision allows one individual, if that is what it is, with 250 signatures in support and with at least 4 officers representing that party, to run in an election in order to raise the issues.
This is important because in 1987 the Reform Party talked about the need to form a party in order to raise some of the issues on democratic reform, electoral reform, economic reform and judicial reform, and to be held to a certain standard. Putting those ideas out to the population would have been very restrictive. Under the new legislative guidelines that the Liberal government tried to bring in, it is questionable whether the Reform Party of Canada would ever have gotten off the ground.
As I have said, it is very apropos that in my last speech in the House of Commons I should be defending the principles of democratic reform, in that any Canadian who seeks to put ideas before the electorate of change and moving our country forward should not be stopped by legislation in the House.
If anything, we should be opening up the process and that is what Bill C-3 does. It opens up the process so that Canadians have the freedom to express their concerns through the electoral system.
I would like to take this opportunity, as it is my last time in the House, to thank the constituents of South Surrey—White Rock—Langley for their support over the last 10 and a half years. I have been honoured to represent them. I feel I have done a good job on their behalf in the House and on behalf of the Conservative Party, the Canadian Alliance, and the Reform Party before that, in moving forward legislative changes that would give Canadians a greater voice and that would give my constituents a better life in this country.
I want to take the opportunity to thank them and to acknowledge that I could not have done it without their support. I look forward to the days ahead of me where I will continue to live and work in the community.
Perhaps I will be on the other side of the fence putting pressure on the new representative to ensure that change moves forward and that we always strive for what is best for all Canadians and for our country. We should have the courage to look ahead and take the bold steps that are required if we are ever going to deal with some of the most serious problems we have in our country, whether it is on the security issues that we spoke of earlier today or on health care.
I, and a lot of Canadians, have a great fear that 20 years from now we will not have any health care system to speak of. It is essential for the people who sit in the House to have the courage to look at how we can do things differently and in a way that will secure our health care for future generations.
We must also ensure that our country is competitive and that we raise our stature in the international community. We must think big and we must be bold in the steps that we take.
I only hope and wish that the people who replace me here and who move on in the years to come have the courage to do the right thing for all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to thank my constituents and to speak to this bill. I believe it is a good move by the government to recognize the democratic principles that are so important to having a free and democratic country.
Subtopic: Canada Elections Act