Tangentially, I think we did address some of those third party website donation restrictions with our communicating with constituents changes to the ten percenter program in the last meeting. I believe there was some relaxing of the rules, in terms of putting a Red Cross flood relief link on our products, etc.
Putting that aside, I think we have to be very careful here that this is a comprehensive review. This cannot be done in a haphazard manner. I think there are unintended consequences or complications that you might have. Does a public figure who runs for office, who has 100,000 Facebook followers when they come into office, lose all of that personal branding? Do they lose all the ability to communicate with those people because they're suddenly elected as a member of Parliament? Can they never use that for a partisan purpose?
I think as well there has been some clarification offered by Elections Canada on what counts against a spending limit or what is permissible to use when it comes to social media. We need to be in close consultation with Elections Canada to ensure that we are doing things that are compliant with their rulings or their predeterminations that they have now. If we get into it and we suddenly make declarations that certain products cannot be used.... Certainly at this point in the game, six months before an election, I think Mr. Holland would probably have a riot in his caucus. Similarly, everyone would be concerned.
We've operating under a certain set of assumptions, rules and understandings and to now say that we're going to change course or prohibit things that have previously been allowed, I think would be very difficult at the end of a Parliament. This might be something that should be looked at at the beginning of a new Parliament so everyone is clear that the rules are all laid out when they start this process.
As to this website in particular, I would agree that no further action needs to be taken other than making all members aware. Again, I think this is another one. I think Mr. Angus quite clearly in his reply indicates that he feels the intention behind this letter was again to damage him politically. Look, we can all find websites from our political opponents. I have one in front of me right now. I'm not going to name the individual who has a “Donate” button and a big picture of one of the more photogenic leaders in this place. The donate page comes up. I will give that to Mr. Holland after this meeting.
Again, we are approaching an election and I think these are clearly politically motivated interventions here. If Mr. Sheehan actually wanted taxpayers to be protected, he could have gone to Mr. Julian's whip and said, “This is an issue and I would like you to deal with it.” Instead, now that we're in public, this is designed to politically damage Mr. Angus. Again, if this is what we are to become, I think it will become a three-ring circus and not what we intended to be here.
We want to make sure the rules are followed for everyone, not that we're using this to now score political points. We have many committees at which this is a primary objective. I'm hoping that doesn't become the norm here.