Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.
Thank you both for being here if we have any questions.
Before we begin, I'd like to provide members who haven't done this before with some information about how committees generally proceed with clause-by-clause consideration of a bill.
The committee will consider each of the clauses in the order in which they appear in the bill. Once I have called a clause, it is subject to debate and vote. If there are amendments to the clause in question, I'll recognize the member proposing the amendment, who may explain it. The amendment will then be open for debate. When no further members wish to intervene, the amendment will be voted on. Amendments will be considered in the order in which they appear in the package each member receives from the clerk. If there are amendments that are consequential to each other, they will be voted on together.
In addition, to be properly drafted in a legal sense, amendments must also be procedurally admissible. The chair may be called upon to rule amendments inadmissible if they go against the principle of the bill or beyond the scope of the bill, both of which were adopted by the House when it agreed to the bill at second reading, or if they offend the financial prerogative of the crown.
If you wish to eliminate a clause in the bill altogether, the proper course of action is to vote against the clause when the time comes, not to propose an amendment to delete it.
During the process, if the committee decides not to vote on a clause, that clause can be put aside by the committee so that we can revisit it later in the process.
Amendments have been given a number in the top right-hand corner to indicate which party submitted them. There is no need for a seconder to move an amendment. Once an amendment is moved, unanimous consent is required to withdraw it.
Once every clause has been voted on, the committee will vote on the title of the bill itself, and an order to reprint the bill may be required if amendments are adopted so that the House has a proper copy for use at report stage.
Finally, the committee will have to order the chair to report the bill to the House. That report only contains the text of any adopted amendments, as well as indication of any deleted clauses.
I thank the members for their attention. We will now proceed with clause-by-clause consideration.
Thanks for going through that. For some members, it's the first time they've done this. I've got to tell you that I sit on this and on the public accounts committee. Tyler and I were talking about how it's probably been about four or five years since I've done one too, so this is probably going to go a little bit less than smoothly as we work our way through it.
That's a nice cover or way for me to say, with very little elegance, I shall not be moving NDP-2, NDP-3, or NDP-4, Chair.
I have two questions with relation to the very helpful introduction you read to us. Thank you for that. I'll ask both questions and you can answer them.
Number one, I was going to ask if it is the case that any of the proposed amendments would, if adopted, have the effect of causing any of the other proposed amendments to be outside our consideration. If so, it would be helpful to know those in advance.
Number two, I'd like to know whether any of the amendments have, in your view, fallen outside of what is allowable, and if so I'd appreciate knowing that in advance as well, rather than waiting until we get to the individual items.
This is to address the loophole that I brought up during questioning with the minister and her staff. If a minister of one party or a leader of another party shows up at somebody else's event, as the law is worded right now, that would make their event illegal. This would get rid of that loophole very simply.
Well, Tom grew up in my riding, so I know him. Let's say that happened. My event would then become illegal, because I had a regulated person show up my event, and making it somebody from the same party solves that problem.
I was thinking about it, and I can think of a practical application that would cause me to want to support it. Notwithstanding our partisan differences, most of us get along quite well in Hamilton. In my view, Filomena is on the brink of having her shot at cabinet, so it could very well be that she could find herself being a cabinet minister and it wouldn't exactly be a headline for one of us to drop into another's event just on a collegial basis. It does happen. If I'm understanding what you're suggesting, because they're someone who shouldn't be there under the rules, the whole thing then is in some legal question and in trouble.
I guess what I would ask is whether there are any other unintended consequences. From that perspective, I think it makes sense, and I could see myself supporting it. Are there any unintended consequences to it, though?
In all fairness, it's highly unlikely the minister would cross the floor at the event. Remember, he can go to Filomena's event without it triggering any problems, unless he gets appointed to cabinet, in which case it's a different story.
The rule is that the committee can only amend the same line once. Basically that's the very simple rule. The Liberal amendment touches lines 3 to 5 and NDP-1 replaces lines 4 and 5, so that's why. It's a technical reason.
Chair, perhaps I could, through you, ask Mr. Graham whether it's his intention to support my amendment. If it is, then maybe we could find a way to have one motion that gets us around this technicality. Otherwise, it looks as though we're going to have a bit of a clash.
I believe it's technically possible, but to answer David's question, it's not my intention to support his amendment. If he'd like me to explain why, I'm happy to, but at this point it's not my intention to support it.
Chair, perhaps you would allow a little flexibility.
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. David Christopherson: I hear you, and I posed the same question to Tyler when we were going through it. The answer is that if we simply identify it by title, all you have to do is give somebody a title that's not listed and you've gotten around the law. By just saying everybody who's in the office may... There's the the fact that it might feel like a bit of an overreach, but if we do it the other way, it's an underreach, because, as I say, you just create a title that's not there, and hocus-pocus, someone who normally shouldn't be there or would be covered by the law now isn't.
That was the only reason they used the language. I asked the same question: why would we say “such as”?
There are two options for proceeding, or three. Just carry on is one. Two is to propose a subamendment to LIB-1. Three is to, by unanimous consent, reverse the order, and if NDP-1 passes, then LIB-1 couldn't go ahead. If NDP-1 doesn't pass, LIB-1 could still proceed to debate.
The thing is, I have some sympathy for David's amendment, but I'm certainly sure as hell not going to vote for something that kills my motion before it even gets to the floor. It's just not going to happen.
If I can get a sense, though, that I'm spinning my wheels on mine, then that would give me a little bit of latitude to be supportive of David's.
Is that everybody saying you're not with me? Okay.
Yes, but if they're not going to include mine, there's no sense doing that option. That would be nice and neat. Otherwise I'm in a leap of faith. I can do that, but the cleanest would be if we could do mine first, let me sort of have my day in court—it will take 30 seconds—and then we can move on to LIB-1 and give me the latitude to support it.
No, it would be worse than that, David. It would be worse than that because your event would become illegal if you hadn't announced five days in advance that they were going to crash your event, and that's why the loophole is there.
It's hard to follow that way. I'll just explain what I've done.
Now that we're debating this, I'm hoping that will provide Mr. Christopherson with a point to explain the merits of NDP-1. The purpose of this amendment is to allow him to have his moment before the committee to explain what he's trying to accomplish.
However, my understanding is that the wording of the relevant clause does not include some people who are actually the kinds of people who are in a position to either make decisions on their own or to assist in the making of decisions that could result in benefits accruing to people making a donation to be at the event. Hence, those people should also be included for an event at which they are the headliner, or at any rate are present, headlined or not, because their presence can be conveyed by means other than widely broadcasting the fact that they'll be present.
This includes parliamentary secretaries who do, after all, meet regularly with ministers. In a sense, they serve a role within the parliamentary context similar to that which an NCO, a non-commissioned officer, serves within a military unit to the commissioned officer. Likewise, persons appointed under subsection 128(1) of the Public Service Employment Act would include individuals who are effectively political staff, if I'm not mistaken. Mr. Christopherson can correct me.
No, as a matter of fact, I thank you very much, Mr. Reid. I appreciate that very much.
I won't do a whole speech, but you'll recall that I've had experience in this area and I know the kind of impact that a chief of staff and senior policy adviser can have on a minister. To leave the influence line at just the elected person does not, in my view, capture all the influences on a minister when he or she is making decisions. In a nutshell, that is my rationale.
I'd go a little longer if I had a chance of converting anyone. My odds of that look slim to none. I try to live in the real world.
I've just got one comment. The proposer has already spoken.
I just wanted to say that I'll be voting for this amendment. I am disappointed by what just happened. We are trying to deal with the merits of each clause on its own. I think that we have a somewhat rarified concern that Mr. Christopherson—sorry, Mr. Graham—expressed. Nonetheless, it's a nice housekeeping measure.
Yes. The bill currently allows these thank-you events for maximum donors, and that type of event is excluded from this legislation. In my view, putting that exemption in place again still leaves lots of room for loopholes and getting around this. People know that they're going to get a double whack for their contributions. To me, it's the same game, but by a different name. This would prevent that exemption from happening.
The purpose of the exemption acknowledges the logistical difficulties of enforcing this at a convention, with individuals moving around, and lining up who is in the room at the same time with certain individuals when there is coming and going.
Bill C-50 still ensures that if there is a ticketed event during a convention.... For example, at ours, there is always a Judy LaMarsh fundraiser to raise money for women candidates who are running. It's a separate ticketed event, and if a minister were to attend, that would be covered by this legislation.
I would say to my honourable friend that there is merit in that argument. I don't see why we aren't constructing legislation that carves that out but still ensures that these other thank-you events aren't happening.
I don't think it's the conventions that are the bigger problem; it's the opportunity for a second gathering with the high-priced, influential government decision-makers still in attendance. That is being exempted from the transparency that Bill C-50 is providing elsewhere. That's my problem.
If I may, it's exclusion of contributor appreciation events. It doesn't say that in the title, but it says:
(4) Despite subsection (3), a regulated fundraising event does not include any event that is a part of a convention referred to in subsection (2) and that is organized to express appreciation for persons who have made a contribution to the registered party or any of its registered associations, nomination contestants, candidates or leadership contestants.
The only exclusion is for those occurring at a convention, not outside of a convention.
That still leaves us with the same problem. Again, you're saying that it was too hard to keep track of it.
You're pulling together an event within the convention. I was thinking that if you're talking about a fundraising event during a convention, that may be one thing, but this is talking about pulling together those same people who are benefiting from having paid the maximum—I think in this case the Liberals have their Laurier Club—so these folks are going to be invited at a convention, but only they are going to be invited.
How would you have so much trouble keeping track of it when you'd have to invite them in the first place because they are maximum donors? They have to belong to your Laurier Club, and if that's the list you're drawing from to say that they're entitled to come, how is it so difficult to track? Why is that the issue?
The issue isn't that it's difficult to track, because those individuals are already recorded in Elections Canada. It's who is there at what time with what individual, and there are comings and goings throughout the entire weekend.
When I speak about logistical difficulties, these individuals are already.... You can go to Elections Canada and find out who the maximum donors are, and that's not an issue. As we've all been to conventions, we understand who is moving around and the difficulties of pinning down the time frame. Just because individual X was in a lounge and a minister was in the lounge, it doesn't mean that they were even there at the same time or on the same day, which is what this bill is trying to get at.
You could set it up so that nobody was really planning to do a whole lot of talking at the initial fundraiser, because the real deal was going to happen at the more exclusive one at the Laurier Club, where only those who paid the maximum were getting invited, and you'd be doing it under the guise of the convention. What would not be allowed anywhere else would be allowed because it's a convention.
When I was making reference to the convention, I was talking about fundraising events at the convention. There's all kinds of stuff going on. People are selling stuff. I have some sympathy for that. Still, at the convention you're going to pull together people who, by virtue of being Laurier Club members, are going to have a chance to go to an event and rub elbows with who knows whom, with no transparency whatsoever, all predicated on the fact that they are the top donors at another event or events.
To me, it's still providing access for cash. It's just that you paid the cash ahead of time.
Mr. Christopherson, at the beginning you said that it was okay at a convention and that your problem lay more with these events occurring outside of the conventions. Are you now rethinking the whole thing?
Well, that's because you said that this only applies to conventions. Why would I be arguing about something that's not included in the clause? You're the lawyer, not me. I'm just taking my lead from you.
Well, no. If you want to give me a chance to make a macro-case about it, I will, but the clause in front of us is talking about the conventions. I'm just saying that you're still allowing what you say Bill C-50 provides transparency for, and when it's at a convention, it's opaque. That's all I'm saying.
Thank you. I must say that after listening to the back-and-forth, I feel a bit like a contestant at the side of a Jell-O wrestling match who inexplicably decides to do a swan dive into the middle of it.
That's better than what you would have had, Hoback.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Scott Reid: I wanted to make some observations. I think this amendment by Mr. Christopherson was very well intended and I want to explain why I don't support it.
I should mention, by the way, that some of the comments I'm going to make are related to a situation that exists when you're in government but doesn't exist for us as an opposition party right now. In opposition, we only have to worry about the leader. He's the only person whose presence is guaranteed at the Leader's Circle event, which is our equivalent of the Laurier Club. Obviously, he'll be there, so we'd record that. However, if you're in government, you have ministers who will potentially be available depending upon the other things going on at the convention. Everybody knows that conventions are very chaotic events. You're dealing with all kinds of things. You have people doing interviews, which are hard to plan, with various media outlets. It's hard to plan which events will be top of mind at the time of a convention. For disclosure purposes, you could list every minister without actually promising the people who are being invited that they'll be there. That seems problematic, and it's one concern.
My more significant reason for not supporting this amendment is that at a convention you already have, by the nature of the event, media present, so it's easy to keep track of who's coming in and out. I think it was Chris Bittle who said that they are somewhat chaotic events in that people are wandering in and out, getting canapés. You may have more than one such event at a convention in order to accommodate people who are arriving at different times and so on, but the key thing is that reporters are there anyway. You have media accreditation. There's no danger of any sort of secret meeting.
Also, you have the largest number of donors who are donating for the traditional reasons. They already believe in the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party. They're willing to give the maximum. They're now a delegate at their convention. You have so many of those people that it would be a very odd time to try to have a quiet meeting with a Chinese billionaire, say. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing that's going to happen. Therefore, I think this is an area that was never a problem to start with.
Under the formal rules, because clause 2 is being amended by NDP-6 in line 15, and LIB-2 is amending it differently, are these not the same thing nonetheless, or am I misunderstanding? In practice, if this were done, it wouldn't make sense to do LIB-2, or would it still make sense? I'm asking whether it's sensible, as opposed to what the formal rules are.
The motion in LIB-2 sets out the obligation to provide a notice separate from the obligation to advertise instead of putting them together, so it'll be easier from an enforcement perspective that the two obligations are separate, because then the offences are separate as well.
Again, it was Mr. Kingsley and I think Mr. Nater, to give credit for the thought, who suggested that without some kind of backup insurance policy, you could end up with senior people just showing up at the last minute; some might know they were coming—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—and some might not.
There was also this idea that if one minister can't make it, it's reasonable that, gee, if they are sick, a couple of days later it would be somebody else who would attend. I'm sorry: if it's the minister of tourism who is scheduled, but—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—everybody knows that they're going to have parliamentary flu and it's going to be the minister of finance, so you'd be wise to get your tail down there, that's doable. That is entirely possible.
When I raised that possibility with Mr. Kingsley when he was here, he said to just put it in the law that if you're not on the list five days beforehand, you can't go. I like that. That's what this amendment is about.
Mr. Christopherson must be much better at selling tickets than I am. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, and tickets get sold.
In terms of the reality of the situation, if a particular individual is coming, you advertise that particular individual as long as you can and as hard as you can to sell the greatest number of tickets you can, and the “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” behind the scene is contrary to the spirit of the legislation. Even if we don't think we're all better than that, at the end of the day we want to sell the most tickets possible. I think this measure provides for that . Regardless of who attends, they'll still be covered within the final report, and there will be transparency. It's not that—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—the finance minister shows up, and the act doesn't apply.
I think I'm going to oppose this amendment because I think it's reasonable to allow that if someone got parliamentary flu or actual flu, another individual can be swapped in.
Well, if I can, Chair, my response is that it's nice the government says that would never happen, but if we were dealing with things that never happened, we'd never need this legislation, would we?
I don't buy that argument. It seems to me that if you mean what you say and there are no games being played—and I take you at your word—why not put it in the legislation? Why do I have to take your word? Why not put it in the legislation? Then we know for sure that nothing like that's going to happen.
David, with respect to your point, the first thing I would say is, wouldn't you be best off advertising the heaviest hitter coming? Right? Would you agree? Aren't you better off if you're advertising you've got—
In terms of that concern, I think that if you're having an event, you're going to advertise the person who's coming and you're not going to have someone else behind the scene who may be more influential—I shouldn't say that—or a more senior cabinet person. You'd put that in the advertisement. That just makes sense, and I think you'll agree with that.
The other thing is that in the event that you have a number of people coming and you've advertised that a cabinet minister is coming, and that person does get sick, with this amendment, you'd have a problem. You couldn't sub someone in.
For those two reasons, I think I won't be able to support the amendment.
I'd just like a clarification from the departmental officials.
Even if a minister was swapped out, the way I'm reading this is that it allows for flexibility. It does happen. It happened to me when I really wanted a certain minister and I was planning and hoping for months beforehand, and it didn't end up working out. Then with weeks until the event, it ended up being somebody else. That person who does end up coming in the end has to be in the five-day notice, right?
Yes. Every regulated fundraising event needs to be advertised five days in advance with the name of the minister or party leader who is coming. If there's a change to the information in the notice, there is an obligation to update. If there's a change in ministers three days in advance, then there's the obligation to update the notice.
Before I present, I apologize to the committee members, but I need to put it on the record that every time I am forced to be before a parliamentary committee, I am here under duress. This committee passed a motion that requires me to be here if I want to put forward amendments at this stage. Otherwise, but for the motion of this committee, I would have had rights to put forward these amendments at report stage.
Since report stage happens only once in the chamber, you don't have the conflict that I had just the week before Thanksgiving, when both Bill C-45 and Bill C-49 went to clause-by-clause consideration at the same time, and because of the motions passed in those committees, I had to present amendments at the same time.
I would particularly urge this committee, as the committee on procedure and House affairs, that this is the committee that should have determined whether my rights as an MP needed to be curtailed at report stage. Under the former prime minister, the PMO basically did an end run around PROC to change the way legislation is treated in the House, by passing identical motions committee to committee requiring members of Parliament in parties with fewer than 12 MPs, or independents, to bring their motions to committee with 48 hours' notice. This is to create a fake “opportunity” that denies me my rights at report stage.
That's the context in which I tell you that I am here under duress. I know a lot of you are unfamiliar with this situation, even though the committee passed this motion. You probably thought it was a friendly thing, a nice thing, but it has probably taken years off my life to try to get to every committee at clause-by-clause consideration, instead of having the rights I would otherwise have at report stage. It's particularly offensive to PROC. If you were, for instance, to repeal your own committee motion, I'd find that extremely helpful.
I'll be very brief. I understand that the conflict occurs with the Liberal amendment, which deals with lines 34 to 36 on page 6. So does mine.
PV-2 stands for Parti vert-2, because the clerks of the committees decided not to call my motions “Green Party” because then they would look like government motions, with a “G”. That's why it's Parti vert-2.
Parti vert-2 is in conflict with paragraph (b) of David's amendment. What I am trying to do with my amendment is ensure that it's not precluded that the reporting take place during an election. If you go to the bill, you see that I basically change the language. Where it says, “Subsections (1) to (6) do not apply in respect of a regulated fundraising event”, my amendment, Parti vert-2, would change the words “do not apply” to “continue to apply”, so that the fundraising rules within this legislation would apply during the writ period.
I think Ms. May's amendment is trying to impose the reporting requirements required at any time outside of a writ within the writ period. That would be the five-day advance notice and prompt reporting and all.
What the Liberal amendment is saying is that during the chaos of a writ—all the moving parts moving very quickly and stressed-out volunteers and everything—we would have a different regime, wherein all that reporting would happen after the fact, at the end of the writ period.
There is a difference in purpose here. We are very specifically trying to relieve the intense pressure on volunteers to do reporting when there is so much else going on in their and everyone else's lives during the writ period.
Let me deal with it this way. Mr. Chair, I'm going to propose an amendment to LIB-3. If you go down to paragraph (b) in proposed subsection 384.3(7), you see that it says:
Subsections (1) to (6.1) do not apply in respect of a reg-
Do you see that? We'd just delete the words ”do not” and add in “continue to”, and that would accomplish exactly what Ms. May is trying to accomplish, while not eliminating or altering any other text in the Liberal amendment.
I think that would work. I don't think there's any technical problem with that. I'll just pass that to the clerk.
Just very quickly, and to echo Mr. Fillmore's comments, we've all been through the election, and decisions happen in—I don't want to say moments, but you can find out the next day if a particular individual is coming to your riding, be it the Prime Minister or be it a party leader, so for logistic reasons I don't think I can support this subamendment.
Mr. Chair, I wonder if we could just inquire for certainty—I did just do this on the fly—from the officials whether what I am proposing would have the effect of causing both the 30-day and the five-day requirements to apply or not. Could we ask them?
While we're bringing this up, Mr. Chair, I should raise something.
I'm in the process, as a side project in my role as an MP, of trying to collect and put online all the documentation relating to the original design of the various parts of our Constitution, and the same problem we're encountering here occurred when the Constitution was being designed. It wasn't always clear that everybody who was involved knew what the implications were of various words that were being put in. Based on that lesson, it's always good to take our time and make sure we understand what we're doing.
You're not asking that in the sense of whether they did things that could have been done better; you're asking whether they made mistakes. I think some people misunderstood, or understood incorrectly what was being done. That's always a danger.
The suggested amendment would not add any advertising requirement, because that's a separate provision. What it would do is make the 30-day reporting requirement apply during an election, and at the same time the requirement to file a report after an election within 60 days would also still be valid. You would have the double reporting requirement with that amendment.
Chair, does all of this not turn on the issue of whether there should be a priority in getting this information out during an election so that the public has the benefit of knowing it, rather than after? Isn't that the issue in front of us? We've already captured the accountability part, so that's there. The question is whether or not fundraising during a campaign would be subject to some of these accountabilities during the course of the campaign. Is that not the difference?
It's 35 days, so I worry. What if the reporting requirement falls on E-day or...? Running a campaign is the craziest thing I've ever done, and I wonder at people who've done it more than once. They must be insane and out of their mind. Why would they repeat doing this over and over again? As I say this two years later, I'm probably going to do it again, but you're out of your head. It's complete insanity, and volunteers don't know what's happening.
The fast pace of that 30- or 35-day period on average is intense, so I worry if you have a fundraiser that falls right on E-day or the day before. I see a lot of people making errors in their reporting because they don't have the capability.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm grateful for the chance to take the microphone again.
If there's anyone who understands Canadian election cycles and rules around Canadian elections, I think it's Jean-Pierre Kingsley, given his history as the person to hold the role longest. I'm just going to quote again what he said before the committee.
If there is a time when people really need to know who is contributing, it is during the election period. We don't have [it] now. This bill would prevent that from happening at this critical moment in the existence of a democracy.
I hear what you're saying, Ruby, but I think my amendment wouldn't have created the doubling. The doubling of the reporting occurs when you combine my amendment with David's amendment. If there were some elegant way to ensure.... I mean, the big policy question before this committee is this: do you want to amend the act to deal with the concern raised by Jean-Pierre Kingsley that it's during an election when Canadians particularly want to know who's donating to different parties and candidates?
I appreciate those comments, but I think Mr. Kingsley was talking about something different in terms of overall donations. That is a completely different conversation from this very specific and narrowly focused piece of legislation, and engaging in this amendment doesn't achieve what Mr. Kingsley was seeking in his own testimony. How the event gets reported instantaneously is logistically difficult as individuals are handing you cheques on the day before the election. Perhaps 10 or 20 years down the road, if everything is online, it will become a lot easier to report it instantaneously, but I don't think Mr. Kingsley's recommendation is in line with the reality of how campaigns continue to work when your 75-year-old supporter comes in with a cheque. It goes to a volunteer and goes through a series of processes that may not be able to be reported in time for the election.
I think what Mr. Kingsley was talking about and what we're dealing with here are two different issues.
I have one comment. I'm having some trouble accepting “logistically difficult” as the reason not to do something. If that were the reason not to do something, half of the regulations around elections wouldn't exist because you can apply that “logistically difficult” test to it.
We do an awful lot of things in the campaign, as Ruby has said, that make campaign managers nuts because of all the things that they have to do that seem logistically difficult but that we have deemed are necessary to ensure that we have free and fair elections. I just make the comment that “logistically difficult” doesn't carry an awful lot of weight with me.
If I can clarify, as a lawyer, I hate to use the word “impossible”, but when we're talking about this and when I'm using the words “logistically difficult”, we are getting to the point where it's unreasonable to put that upon volunteers in a particular situation. I understand what you are saying and I'll adjust my comments accordingly.
Yes. We can ask the officials if they find it defined well enough, but I believe it is. It states, “any person who attended the event solely to assist a person with a disability”. That's their only reason to be there, so they should not be on the list. They are solely there for that reason.
I think, by the way, if I can make a parenthetical comment about this legislation and the conversation we are having around the table, that it really makes the case that we need to look at more public financing of campaigning—
An hon. member: Hear, hear!
Ms. Elizabeth May:—and reduce the stress around fundraising. I do hope that the minister will look at what Jean Chrétien had done with the initial campaign reform and look at per-vote subsidy again, because it's not like the Government of Canada doesn't subsidize political parties. It does it through rebates for donors. It does it through the rebate at the end of an election campaign. The more we publicly finance election campaigns, the less we have this problem of which donors are in the room when the minister is there, and cash for access.
I will go quickly, because I can't be two places at once. Mr. Chair, I am going to come back for my next amendment and I'm going to let you know that now. I hope I get back in time, but the Board of Internal Economy is open today for the first time to members who aren't part of the star chamber, so I really want to have a peek. I'm going to scoot out and come back.
That said, this is an amendment based again on the testimony of Jean-Pierre Kingsley. My amendment would have the effect of deleting proposed paragraphs 384.3(3)(b) and 384.3(3)(c), which say that people are not going to be reported if they are there solely in the course of their employment. Just to quote again from the points that Jean-Pierre Kingsley made, “There are staff members in the Canadian political system who are exceedingly important”—and I hate to say it, but I'm adding my own little subtext here—and who are sometimes considered more important to donors than elected MPs. He said:
There are staff members in the Canadian political system who are exceedingly important, and their attendance at an event [is something that] carries weight unto itself. So the automatic exclusion of those persons from being named, I think, turns us away from the purpose of the statute.
This is why my amendment would delete the exclusion of staffers from reporting requirements.
I understand what Ms. May is saying, but in my understanding, and perhaps we can talk to the analyst, this amendment would then include everyone who is there, so if there was an employee, a waiter, or a support staff person who was solely there for their employment purposes, their name would end up on the list.
I don't think that's what we want to accomplish here. Individuals who in the course of their employment are pouring wine or serving food would end up on a list to suggest they support a particular political party, which they may or may not in the course of their employment.
The amendment clarifies the event organizer's obligation to provide up-to-date information to parties, and applies both with respect to the event report and the initial event notice. In all cases, the organizing entity shall not include information on minors, volunteers, and persons who attended because they are employed at the event.
Mr. Chair, it makes sure there's close coordination between the event organizers and the respective political parties, so the reporting, both ahead of the event and afterward, is consistent and accurate. If there are last-minute changes, for example, of venue or time, that those are reported properly.
Right now, organizers have the obligation to tell political parties the information they need to file their reports, but if the organizers become aware of a change in that information, they're not obligated to tell the party, and the party, not knowing, can't update the report. This would put the obligation on the organizers to update any reporting information if they're aware of it.
I know. I heard that. I didn't think you'd get to clause 11 so quickly.
Thank you for giving me a chance to speak to it. It's very straightforward. Again, and particularly I suppose, I looked to the testimony of Jean-Pierre Kingsley, who thought that a $1,000 penalty was not going to have much of an impact. With the help of drafters, I put before you his suggestion that the penalty be related to the offence and be basically a doubling of whatever money was received that violated the scheme of this particular fundraising code.
It's a very straightforward amendment. Anybody who holds a fundraiser and collects funds that are in excess will find themselves paying basically double what they received.
As you can see in NDP-10, which follows PV-3, I'm not married to an exact number or formula of penalty, but I am in agreement. A number of witnesses said that the $1,000 fine is really a bit low. In some cases, that really could just become the cost of doing business, and then people could just ignore the rules all they want.
I'm open to either. I just hope that we agree collectively that $1,000 is not enough. Then the question is, where is the comfort level for a majority of us?
The question is, is that a reference to the amount that was raised if a person's name was left off the list? Does it mean the entire amount raised at the event, or is it going to vary from one situation to another?
You see what I'm getting at. There are two different ways. I just want to find out what your understanding is.
Let's say you have an event at which the leader of the party is the headliner. That's done correctly. They leave off the name of attendee John Smith. Is the basis of the penalty John Smith's contribution of $400 so that now $800 is the penalty due, or is it that everything that was raised at the event is forfeit? That's one kind of infraction you could have.
Another kind of infraction you could have is that you intended to have headliner A, but headliner B shows up instead, or some other macro-level thing happens. Perhaps they forgot to register the event, and now they have $10,000 raised. Do you see what I'm getting at? There are two different ways in which this.... That's what I'm asking about.
It's a very good question. Unfortunately, it's unclear to me which of those would apply as it's currently drafted, because it says “obtained by committing the offence”. It's a little unclear. It would depend how Elections Canada interprets the provision.
With all due respect to the analyst, I don't think that's unclear. That would be, as Jean-Pierre Kingsley's testimony suggested, specific to how much was achieved, how much was raised by committing the offence. It's not the entire event.
Scott asked about someone's name being left off the list. If the entire event is suspect because that's the offence, then it would be double the amount raised at the event. If it's a specific infraction that relates to a specific individual, it would be the amount related to that one individual.
An hon. member: How would you calculate that?
Ms. Elizabeth May: It would be based on what their donation was.
I understand what she is trying to do. I don't agree, but the larger point here is in a situation where you have a conviction under this act, you now have an Elections Act conviction for that person involved with that, which is a much bigger penalty than any monetary amount, because now your headline is “MP”—Minister, whatever—“convicted of Elections Act violation”. That's a much bigger punishment in any case. It's a political punishment, not a monetary punishment.
With regard to the Green Party amendment, I have problems with not having a firm number there, because how you calculate that number becomes very confusing. That $1,000 might be too much, but twice the amount, if you're looking at that amount.... If a volunteer who puts together a fundraiser for me makes a mistake and raises $10,000 and all of a sudden my EDA, my electoral district association, has to cut a cheque for $20,000—
I again wanted some clarification from the officials that the act originally would require the person who committed the offence to forfeit all the money raised at the fundraiser and then pay a $1,000 fine in addition. Is that correct?
This added on top would mean that if, say, my EDA had a fundraiser at $30,000 or so, missed somebody or a couple of people or whatever, and the end result was it was considered an offence, then I would forfeit that $30,000, and then on top of that the EDA would have to pay $60,000. Is that what would happen with this amendment?
These were some of my concerns when I first started to think about it, but as I said earlier, I'm not necessarily wedded to $5,000. I would hope a majority of us would agree that $1,000 is a little low. Can we come to an agreement on a higher number?
I'd like to echo what Mr. Graham was talking about. We have to look at the entirety of what happens if there is a contravention of the act.
If you have your $10,000 fundraiser, you are giving that back, plus you're now facing a charge under the Elections Act, plus a conviction that carries a significant political penalty. I believe that a $1,000 fine on its own, with no additional punishment in terms of having to forfeit what you've raised, absolutely isn't enough, because you could raise $30,000 with a $1,000 cost of doing business, but if you're giving back $30,000 or $10,000 per riding association, plus being convicted under the Elections Act, politically I think the penalty is sufficient and encourages a significant level of deterrence overall.
The other thing was to approve the report on the sexual code of conduct. As you know, we had some amendments from...since that was in camera, maybe we should go in camera to do this for a couple of minutes.
Is it okay if people stay for a couple of minutes to define the next meeting?
For anyone who shouldn't be here, we're going to go in camera.