Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the bill, as opposed to some other times when I rise in the House and really wish I did not have to speak. The bill is definitely a step forward in the reform of our democracy overall, specifically the reform we are pursuing in political financing of election campaigns, both general campaigns and leadership campaigns as well as nomination meetings.
In that regard, this type of reform has been needed for quite some period of time. Prior attempts to reform the system have been made. We saw the Federal Accountability Act passed in this current Parliament. We saw significant reforms, which I think we all applaud, in the prior parliaments of 2000 to 2004 in particular.
However, this was an area where there was a glaring loophole left. We saw that, particularly in the last leadership race by the federal Liberals. A large number of candidates took out very substantial loans to finance their campaigns, in some cases approaching as much as a million dollars, loans that were left owing when the campaign was finished. Although there are mandates to repay those loans, there is no provision of any serious consequence where the lender on the loan had opted to forgive the loan.
We can see where the huge potential for abuse can lead. In most cases, we have very clear guidelines on how much can be spent in campaigns, including leadership campaigns. This is one of the areas where we need further reform, so there is a clearer accountability of where the funds have come from and how they are spent. In fact, we need more detail in those accounting reporting functions.
However, what this left opened was people could come forward as candidates for leadership or running for the nomination in a riding association and could borrow extensive amounts of money to fund those campaigns from family or close associates, business associates perhaps. Then when the campaign was all over, the limits that we had imposed on donations, the cap we had put on donations, could be easily exceeded by the people who had advanced the loans, saying, “I understand you're in dire financial straits, I'm not going to ask you to repay the loan”.
We saw that repeatedly happen. I often wondered, even prior to some of the reporting we now have in place, how often it happened of which we were not aware.
Therefore, we are taking a significant step forward under Bill . We are placing very clear guidelines on from whom funds can be borrowed, and that is primarily the lending institutions of our country, not private individuals. There are limits on how much can be borrowed as well. It is a major step forward. I do not think it is the end of the day.
I remember sitting in committee one time and listening to two delegations, one from the province of Manitoba and one from the province of Quebec. They had started the program of financial reform in political financing and political donations in particular, much ahead of where we did at the federal level. It was interesting to listen to them. In both cases they said that what we had to do was continue to monitor, at least after every election and leadership campaign, to see if some creative person had come forward with an idea, a way to get around the restrictions and legislation, which thought we had put in place and which we thought were solid and absolute,
We are seeing that to some extent in the scandal of the Conservative Party's in and out scheme, which Elections Canada clearly found improper and contrary to the legislation. That was the Conservatives' creative attempt to get around the financing laws during a federal campaign. Hopefully at the end of the day they will have their wrists severely slapped, they will be penalized, et cetera, and we will put an end to that one.
In this case, what happened with the accountability act and some of the reforms we saw under the Liberal administration was that the issue around the loans was not dealt with. We are now dealing with it in Bill . I think we have covered all the bases on it, but it will require ongoing monitoring. If we do not have that, we can be almost certain that someone will figure out a way around it and we will then have to move back in as a legislature to close whatever loopholes are found.
In addition to this legislation, we have additional democratic reforms. The current was very strong in opposition and in both federal campaigns in arguing for all sorts of democratic reforms.
We know we need reforms within this House to deal with the decorum problem we have in this House and to deal with the problem of actually democratizing the institution. In particular, right now we can see the need to deal with democratizing our committees. We need to deal with making them stronger and more independent of the party in power in particular, but also of the leadership of the parties, so that we as members of Parliament can act more independently and also more representatively of our constituents. Those reforms are needed.
We expect that we are going to need additional reforms once we see how the Federal Accountability Act works in the next federal general election. I expect additional reforms will be called for.
There are certainly reforms that need to be made to the electoral process. As members know, the NDP has been a strong proponent for a long period of time of a form of proportional representation so that everybody's vote counts the same. This is another reform that needs to be undertaken.
The point I am trying to make here is that although this is a relatively small act, it is another step along the route we have to take, that we as members of Parliament have a responsibility to take, to see to it that as much as possible we make our country, our electoral process and our democratic institutions as absolutely democratic as possible.
Attached to this is something that one would almost say is just so obvious that we should not have to say it. There has to be accountability in the process and there has to be transparency. The average citizen has to understand how the process works, both in terms of election financing and in terms of the process here in the House and during the elections.
The point I want to make as well with regard to Bill is what we hear more about from the Liberal side of the House, which is that we really do not need this kind of restriction. We hear that we simply could put in place a regime that would set out how much money a candidate has spent, with no cap on it, and how much a candidate still owes, with all of it just being an accounting process. The accountants in the country would love that, I am sure.
All we have to do is to look to other jurisdictions to see where they have followed that type of regime. I am going to point to the United States in particular, where there are no caps on what a candidate can spend, from whom a candidate borrows, and whether a candidate pays it back. There are very few restrictions.
What we see there is that if someone wants to be a senator, for instance, he or she starts from the fact he or she is going to have to raise millions and millions of dollars to get elected. Quite literally, and I know the Americans hate it when we say this, a person can buy an election at the senate and congressional levels in the United States, because effectively there are no limits on how much one can spend.
On paper it looks like there are some limits, which goes back to the accountability. The reality is that there are none because of the political action committee fundraising methodology they employ there.
We see this even in small states. Members may remember the incident in New Jersey involving an individual who was a multi-millionaire, almost a billionaire, and who spent something like $60 million in trying to buy his senate seat. And he did win it.
He swamped the opposition with advertising, with people working door to door, and with all kinds of promotional material. He was able to use all the things that we could use if we were allowed to spend that amount of money. However, anybody who does not have access to those sources of funds, either personally or through contacts, is in a totally impossible position in regard to making the democratic process function.
It really is important that we pass Bill . I believe from the comments we have heard that it obviously is going to go through.
I want to finish with the caution I heard in that committee from both the province of Quebec and the province of Manitoba. We have to be eternally vigilant.
After the next election, we will have to look at this piece of legislation. We will have to look at the Federal Accountability Act, other political financing acts and other electoral processes to see if somebody has figured out a way to get around the rules. If so, then we will have to move again to close any loopholes that have developed.
Mr. Speaker, Bill , which seeks to close loopholes in campaign financing, is a good bill in and of itself, with the exception of the matter that was rejected by the government at report stage, with the support of the NDP, allowing a candidate to incur expenses without necessarily obtaining the party's authorization. The party would then be responsible for those expenses. That seems to be an aberration. However, we still believe that there are enough positive changes in the bill as a whole to support it.
We believe that the legislation should cover loans in order to close loopholes pertaining to financing limits. We would like to remind members that these limits were established as a result of a fight led by the Bloc Québécois in the past requiring that corporate contributions be prohibited and that individual contributions be limited, as has been the case in Quebec for 30 years.
I have been a member of this House for 15 years and I remember an epic debate that took place under the former Liberal government. As Mr. Chrétien's term of office was winding down, the situation was significantly improved by allowing only individuals to make contributions. With this bill, we have gone even further, and that is a very positive aspect of democracy.
Often, when people in other countries have governance difficulties, one of the sources of their problems is actually linked to electoral practices that do not measure up to the requirements of democracy. They deserve better support. So the actions taken today are part of a development we are familiar with, which deserves to be supported.
The Bloc Québécois and Quebec as a whole have really made an interesting contribution in this regard. In Quebec, the Election Act, which was amended during the time of René Lévesque in the 1970s, now serves somewhat as a rule at the federal level, and that is good. It makes for a healthier democracy. It also requires us to seek money from a multitude of people, and thus reduces the excessive impact some contributors have on political parties. In this regard, we are headed in the right direction.
This bill corrects another problem in the Federal Tort Claims Act. During consideration of Bill , the Conservative government was more interested in getting its bill passed in a hurry than in dealing with problems of ethics. In the present context, we realized that some things needed to be added. At that time, the opposition parties, the media and Democracy Watch had raised the problem, and the government refused to act. In the current context, we are correcting some of these situations.
For example, the bill corrects the problem of loans that made it possible to get around the limits on political contributions. In this connection, there are some important points concerning the poor protection of whistleblowers and the lack of reform of the Access to Information Act. However, as far as the problem of loans is concerned, we realized in the past that these loans served as crutches to compensate for the fact that a candidate or a party had not raised enough money. This situation was particularly prevalent in leadership races. We realized that something the new Canada Elections Act did not permit was happening through the back door, that is, raising very large amounts of money from one or two individuals who were providing loans. The aim is to correct this situation.
When this bill was introduced, it was pointed out that during the last leadership race several Liberal candidates took out large loans in order to get around the financing limits in the way I have just described. While it is true that quite a few have acted in this way, it should not be forgotten that the himself did not reveal all his contributions during the leadership race in 2002. So the Conservative Party was not really in a position to lecture anyone. We have also seen it in the past seven years, given the scandals we now know about.
It is necessary to prevent the law from being circumvented by introducing new limits for political contributions. For example, an individual can contribute $1,100 annually to a registered party or to a candidate. The amount a union can contribute annually to a registered party has been reduced to $0. That shows a significant shift in terms of the respect owed to the people who give us our mandates—the voters. It is still possible to circumvent the limits by using personal loans. That will no longer be the case. The example was given of the candidates for the Liberal leadership.
We have corrected many other issues in Bill that were not adequately addressed in the Federal Accountability Act.
Other ethical problems persist. Even though Bill corrects the problem of loans that allow candidates to circumvent political contribution limits, there are still many ethical problems that were not fixed by Bill .
For example, many Conservative campaign promises in terms of whistleblower protection did not make it into the Federal Accountability Act. Notably, the Conservatives said that they wanted to “ensure that whistleblowers have access to...legal counsel”. Yet the Conservative bill allows for only $1,500 in legal fees. They also wanted to “give the Public Service Integrity Commissioner the power to enforce compliance with the [whistleblower act]”. Finally, the Conservatives promised to “ensure that all Canadians who report government wrongdoing are protected, not just public servants”.
We understand that Bill , as a whole, will improve the situation. We would have liked it to clarify the situation of candidates who incur expenses for their party, unbeknownst to the party, which would then be liable for them. However, because of the overall improvements it proposes, the Bloc Québécois believes that this bill should be supported.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the NDP to comment on Bill . It is very appropriate because the NDP, in this corner of the House, has been the foremost advocate of smart and democratic grassroots election financing in Parliaments throughout Canadian history.
I am standing beside the member for who has been a very strong advocate of accountability and has spoken in the House on this bill. It is important to note that the NDP has been walking the talk on democratic grassroots election financing since the very origins of our party back in 1960 and even before that with the CCF.
It is important to note that even in the fifties and sixties, big money essentially dominated Canadian politics because we did not have the kinds of limits around election financing that we find today. How did that happen? It was another minority Parliament from 1972-74. The NDP leader, David Lewis, essentially said that the minority Parliament could only continue if for the first time in Canadian history, election financing limits were put in, both in federal parties and also in constituencies. So that was a key point in Canadian history.
It essentially drew us away from the American model, and I will come back to that in a moment, where there are essentially no limits in election financing, where big money dominates, and brought a unique Canadian contribution to election financing law. That put in place the kinds of limits today that mean that ordinary working people can run for the House of Commons and not expect that they are going to be simply outspent by bankers and big business, that essentially there is an even playing field.
It is important to note that since that first election financing act was put into place, the NDP has had a lot more representation in the House of Commons. Ordinary working families have had a lot more representation. It is not a perfect system yet, and I will come back to that in a moment as well. But essentially, the 1972-74 period was a watershed for Canadian election financing laws.
Why is that important? We see in the United States how democracy plays out, that essentially in most campaigns, particularly at the national level, we see that millionaires get elected because there is no election financing legislation that caps the amount of money that people can spend in election campaigns. We hear about $20 million, $30 million, $40 million campaigns, millionaires stepping forward and basically taking money out of their piggy-bank and then running for public office.
As a result of that, we see that the institutions governed by that lack of respect for the democratic will and a lack of responsibility to assume that there is a level playing field means that legislation does not necessarily get adopted in the interests of ordinary working families.
Here in Canada, through the efforts of Tommy Douglas, we have a public health care system that is financed by public taxes and we have that in place in Canada as a result of the work of the CCF and the NDP. We are very proud of that. In the United States where big money dominates there is still a continued effort to put in place a public health care system; 60 million Americans will not have health coverage at some point in this year 2008 which means they are only a car accident or a fall away from perhaps going bankrupt because they have to pay for their medical costs that could be $100,000 or $200,000.
In Canada, in part because we have a more even playing field, we have been able to bring forward progressive social policy. Of course, the NDP and the CCF have been at the origin of every single progressive piece of legislation brought in for social policy since Confederation.
This brings us to Bill . Essentially, what the NDP has endeavoured to do over the last 30 years is gradually ensure that the level playing field does not have the kinds of loopholes that the parties that tend to represent corporate CEOs tend to like to use. We see it all the time. We put in place legislation and rather than keeping to the principle, the Liberal and Conservative parties are trying to get around those loopholes because they believe big money should dominate politics.
What we are trying to do with Bill , essentially, and what we proposed in the Federal Accountability Act, the wellspring of ideas that has brought about Bill C-29, is close the loophole, that has gradually been put into place over the 30 years since the first adoption of election financing caps, to ensure a party cannot get around the legislation. First there were election financing caps and subsequent to that big corporate donations were shut down.
I remember reading the election returns when I used to work at the NDP national office. At one cocktail party the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party would receive $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 from big banks and big oil companies. Essentially, that has been shut down. It is not in Canadians' interests to have corporate donations dominate the political field. We have had that put into place.
Bill would close another very important loophole. As soon as Parliament stopped the huge corporate donations that were going to political parties, one would assume political parties would have acted ethically and morally in respect to that legislation, but that did not happen. The Liberal Party found an interesting little loophole.
Under the existing legislation, if a corporate entity loans money to a political candidate or to a political party and that money is not paid back, it becomes a donation. That is an interesting little loophole. Beautiful. We outlaw corporate donations, but a corporate entity can loan money and forget to ask to have it paid back. It then becomes a donation, a direct contravention of the principle of the law that this Parliament put into place.
The NDP saw that loophole right away. We put it forward in the Federal Accountability Act. Ed Broadbent, the former member for Ottawa Centre and Oshawa, was the foremost proponent of that. The member for as well. This loophole allowed largely Liberal members to get around the principle of the act. That brings us to where we are today.
In the most recent Liberal leadership campaign, hundreds of thousands of dollars were loaned to leadership candidates in what was a splurge of money to the Liberal leadership. There did not seem to be any sort of cap. In NDP leadership races, we ensure that there is a cap on leadership donations. People right across the country give small amounts. Some of our leadership candidates have done very well with those small amounts. In the case of the Liberal leadership race, big money came in again with big loans.
Bill tries to close that important loophole where big companies cannot donate, but they can loan the money and it becomes a donation later.
This is an important principle. What can we say about Quebec’s Election Act? It is one of the best provincial acts. It was not brought into force by a New Democratic government—at least not so far. We certainly hope to have a New Democratic government in Quebec some day.
In any event, Quebec has adopted this principle to ensure that no more than a modest amount can be spent. So you cannot spend $10,000 or $15,000 or $20,000 or $60,000. The limit is set at $3,000, which is more reasonable.
In Canada, as a result of measures adopted by the House a few years ago, a contributor may now give a political party a maximum of $1,100. This is an important factor.
In Quebec, we have in fact seen a change, an improvement, and this has changed the face of politics in Quebec. Since then, the rules of the game have really been more balanced, and there is more discussion of ideas.
The same thing happened in Manitoba. A system was adopted to limit the contributions people can make. There is a New Democratic government in power in Manitoba, and it is governed by that same principle.
This federal principle is therefore modelled on decisions that have already been made by the National Assembly of Quebec, the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, and other governments. It is an important Canadian principle that everyone supports. Playing a shell game to get around that principle is absolutely not in the interests of Canada.
That is the problem. We can play a shell game, because there is a way to get around the law. Since big corporations may not give money, what can they do? They can grant a loan, and later on it will become a donation.
It is hard to believe that a member of this House could object to that principle when he knows full well what progress has been made on this issue since the NDP forced the enactment of the first election spending limits, from 1972 to 1974, when we had a minority government. At that time, former NDP leader David Lewis said he wanted to establish a system that was fair to the families of working people.
Since then, we have seen progress that has allowed us to avoid the kind of activities and involvement we can see in the United States, where money buys seats in Congress and the Senate. Anyone representing working people is the exception. As a rule, representatives are millionaires, particularly in the Senate.
We do not want the same thing to happen in Canada. Certainly the House has millionaires, but there are growing numbers of members from ordinary families. The example we can cite is the fact that the NDP, which had barely a dozen members a few years ago, now has thirty.
We therefore see a net improvement in terms of members who come from more ordinary families, working families, the families that keep Canada moving. It is people from those families who built Canada and who continue to build it. It is important that these people be represented in the House of Commons. Our representatives must not be only bankers and corporate executives, they must also be the people who truly build the Canada they are part of.
What, then, is the position of the NDP on the amendments? We have had a number of good interventions on the issue. The member for and the member for have spoken to this issue.
The government has put forward three amendments at report stage. The first one would limit a person to a $1,000 loan per contest. In other words, it would reduce the amount to what is already in keeping with Canadian principles in the Elections Act to per person per contest rather than $1,000 per person per calendar year. We will be supporting that amendment.
The second amendment concerns when the three year payback period begins. We also support that amendment.
The third amendment, which we find difficult to support, is the idea that when the riding association undertakes, or a candidate or a campaign undertakes, a campaign loan, that campaign loan then reverts right back to the political party. It is a question of reasonableness.
Some campaigns can undertake their own loans right across the country. Every political party does. In the next election campaign, only two parties will be running everywhere in the country and in every region, the 's Conservative Party and the member for 's New Democratic Party.
Everywhere in the country in the next election campaign people will have two choices, two very clear and differing views on the future of the country. I think we are seeing more and more interest in the NDP because people have seen the 's vision and they are not quite sure they like it, particularly the corporate welfare provisions where the only thing that seems to be in Conservative budgets is tens of billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts just shovelled off the back of a truck.
The NDP has a vision that is much more in keeping with the values of Canadians, such as improving our health care system, actually dealing with the housing crisis and the homelessness crisis, and reinvesting in Canadian cities. All of those things most Canadian adhere to, but that is a little beyond the scope of the bill.
The point I am making is that in the next election campaign only two parties will be running in all 308 ridings. Other parties will be running in some ridings and not running in other ridings but only two parties will be running in all 308.
Once those candidates have deposited their nomination papers and have received the sign-off from the leader of the political party they are free to undertake loans on behalf of their campaign. They do not need to go to the national office of the political party to get approval for a loan, which is why we are opposed to this particular amendment. The amendment would mean that the political parties would suffer the consequences of a loan that a candidate and its official agent undertakes in the riding, whereas currently they are responsible for that, as they should be. They make the decisions on the ground to what extent they want to undertake a loan on behalf of their particular campaign and they have the responsibility to pay it off.
I have run in two federal campaigns and both of them were balanced budget campaigns. We feel very strongly about that. In fact, in the second campaign we did not need any loan at all because we received a lot of small contributions from people throughout the riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, which was great. However, if individuals must take out a loan, they should be responsible for it. It does not make sense that those individuals, if they run away from that loan, can simply see that loan transferred to the political party head office.
For the next campaign, for the two parties that are running full slates in every region across the country, the NDP and the Conservative Party, it will be extremely important that the local responsibility be maintained. Hopefully, the other parties that are running partial slates will be supportive of the NDP's position on this. However, for the two parties running the national campaign, running everywhere, particularly in their cases, it is important that responsibility stays with the local campaigns.
We have talked a bit about the origins of the election financing act and how things have evolved since then. The NDP has been the chief spokesperson and the principal advocate of putting into place election financing rules that are in keeping with the values that Canadians share from coast to coast to coast.
Canadians believe there needs to be a level playing field in a political contest and that everyone needs to have the same rules apply. They do not believe in loopholes. Therefore, when a Liberal Party member tries to move around the idea that we cannot have corporate financing by getting a loan and converting it into a donation, that is something that must be stopped. That is why we are supportive of this legislation and of most of the amendments.
We believe Canadians support the values of a level playing field, equal participation in politics and accessibility in politics so that an individual, a former manual labourer, can be active in his or her community, can run for political office and can actually be elected because the rules are such that it is a debate of values and ideas rather than simply a contest of who has the biggest wallet.
Speaking as a former manual labourer who is very proud to be in the House of Commons, our election financing act must do just that.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill .
I am shocked by my colleague for 's response to my colleague for in terms of a party's responsibility for loans contracted by candidates. My colleague just said that he was not in favour of this third amendment. I should point out that the amendments to the bill before us are a direct result of the NDP's change in position.
I do not necessarily want to dump on the NDP. We agree on certain things, but not in terms of this bill. There was a prior agreement. Given that I sit on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, I succeeded in getting this amendment in order to withdraw this provision. It has now returned to the bill, which means that the responsibilities and debts contracted by local candidates will become the responsibility of the party in the case of insolvency.
I am on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, a committee which is incidentally inoperative at the moment. A Conservative colleague was elected to replace the chair and member for , whom a majority of the members had to kick out. Apparently he was not doing his job properly and impartially. A new chair was elected. Unfortunately this new chair resigned, and this means that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, because of the Conservatives, is inoperative.
On reading the bill, I noted this problem. I agree that a local candidate has a party banner to defend. Still, in the case of the Bloc Québécois, there are 75 ridings. There are more in the case of the so-called “national” parties. The Bloc Québécois is the national party of Quebeckers. We run candidates in the 75 ridings of Quebec. When we talk about 308 ridings and 308 Conservative, Liberal or New Democratic candidates, there is a coordination problem. How do we find out what is happening at the local level? An ill-advised candidate could make excessive, extravagant, totally crazy and inappropriate expenditures. I would even go so far as to say that he might exceed the limit provided for.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Michel Guimond: Mr. Speaker, somebody keeps yapping and that is distracting me. I realize that you yourself are so distracted that you cannot take down any notes about my speech.
So there could be a breach of the spending limit. The party might not know anything about it but would be responsible for the expenditures of this insolvent person. That is the point of this amendment. I have difficulty seeing the logic of my colleagues from the other parties.
That being said, I consider that we are democrats in the Bloc Québécois, and we will acknowledge the democratic decision of the House. Allow me, however, to express some misgivings that I have.
With regard to the general thrust of Bill , the Bloc Québécois remains in favour of it on the third reading. We consider that it contains some interesting, though perfectible elements, given that by definition perfection does not exist in this lowly world.
We are in favour of it for two main reasons. First of all, we think that it is necessary to provide a framework for loans so as to avoid people getting around the spending limits. We realize this on analyzing certain leadership races, among both the Conservatives and the Liberals.
For example, the member for , the new Liberal Party critic for foreign affairs, apparently received loans totalling $705,000, including a loan from his brother, John Rae, a former vice-president of Power Corporation, for $580,000 at 5% interest. He apparently lent himself $125,000.
The same goes for the current opposition leader, who is supposed to have received loans totalling $655,000 from various people: Mamdouh Stephanos, Marc de la Bruyere, Stephen Bronfman, Roderick Bryden, Christopher Hoffmann. In all, they amount to $655,000.
Since we are including everyone, the current still refuses to reveal who his contributors were during his run for party leadership in 2002. He refers us the web site of the party once called the Canadian Alliance. That party has changed names many times. First it was the Reform Party, then the Canadian Alliance, and now the Conservative Party. It reminds me of the new Coke: it is the same recipe, but in an improved version. It is actually quite confusing.
In any case, a Globe and Mail article on October 2, 2002, revealed that the current Prime Minister spent $1.1 million on his leadership campaign in 2002. According to the article, the Prime Minister said he had posted a partial list of his contributors on the Canadian Alliance web site, but in fact only those who contributed more than $1,075 were listed. Thus, there are many grey areas.
As for election spending limits regarding contributions from individuals, we know that corporate financing is no longer allowed. We support this. Such limits have always been a traditional demand of the Bloc Québécois, that is, since 1993, for one simple, good reason. The Act to govern the financing of political parties has been in force in Quebec since 1977 and has proven effective. It has helped clean up political and electoral funding practices.
I can still vividly recall former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien paying homage to the legacy of René Lévesque, who gave us Quebec's act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities and the referendum act, among others. I am sure it was not easy for Jean Chrétien to pay homage to René Lévesque.
It is not necessarily logical, and certainly not every day, that Mr. Chrétien would pay tribute to René Lévesque.
That is basically what I wanted to say in my allotted time. Question time is approaching, and I am sure that some of my colleagues have some interesting questions for me. I will be pleased to answer them to the best of my knowledge and abilities. I want to stress that we still support this bill, and that we will likely vote in favour of it.
However, we see some serious problems with the fact that parties are responsible for expenses incurred by candidates at the local level. It should be a given that when someone agrees to run for a particular political party, that individual takes responsibility for his or her own expenses.
It is also important to remember that election campaigns are fast-paced. People who work on an election campaign have a hectic life from morning to night, and that includes the researchers who work nights. It is seven days a week. It is not always possible for all expenses to receive approval from senior party officials. That could mean that, although the party has nothing to do with the expense, it could end up being responsible, which does not make sense and is completely unacceptable.
But regardless, the Bloc Québécois supports this bill overall.