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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:07 [p.24860]
Mr. Speaker, I had the honour and privilege to be chosen, among the 338 members of Parliament, to speak today on the last day we will be sitting in this building, the Centre Block, in the House of Commons, in our wonderful Parliament, in our great federation.
Before I go any further and talk a bit about Centre Block, I should say that I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, one of my esteemed colleagues, whose riding is quite close to my own. We share a border, between Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval and Beauport. I am very happy to work with him on various issues that affect our respective constituents.
I would like to wish a very merry Christmas to everyone in Beauport—Limoilou who is watching us right now or who might watch this evening on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. I wish everyone a wonderful time with their family, and I hope they take some time to rest and relax. That is important. This season can be a time to focus a little more on ourselves and our families, and to spend time together, to catch up and to rest up. I wish all my constituents the very best for 2019. Of course we will be seeing one another next week in our riding. I will be in my office and out in the community all week. I invite all my constituents to the Christmas party I am hosting on Wednesday, December 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at my office, which is located at 2000 Sanfaçon Avenue. Refreshments will be served and we will celebrate Christmas together. Over 200 people attended the event last year. I hope to see just as many people out this year. Merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone.
Today I want to talk about Bill C-76. I think this is the third time I speak to this bill. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to speak at all three readings of the same bill, and I am delighted I have been able do so.
This is somewhat ironic, because we have every reason to feel nostalgic today. The Centre Block of the House of Commons has been the centre of Canadian democracy since 1916, or rather, since its reconstruction, which was completed in 1920 after the fire. We have been sitting in this place for over a century, for 102 years. We serve to ensure the well-being of our constituents and to discuss democracy, to discuss legislation and the issues that matter to our country every day.
Today, rather ironically, we are discussing Bill C-76, which seeks to amend the Canada Elections Act. This is the legislation that sets the guidelines, standards, conditions and guarantees by which we, the 338 members of Parliament, were elected by constituents to sit here in the House of Commons. It is an interesting bill that we are discussing on our last day here, but this situation is indeed somewhat ironic, as my NDP colleague so rightly said in his question to the parliamentary secretary. He asked why, if this bill is so important to the Liberals, they waited until the last minute to rush it through after three years in power. The same version appeared in Bill C-33 in 2015-16, and the Liberals delayed implementation of that bill.
Since we are talking about Bill C-76, which affects the Elections Act and democracy, I must say I find it a shame that only six out of the 200 amendments the Conservatives proposed in committee were accepted.
We have concrete grievances based on real concerns and even the opinion of the majority. I will share with the House some of the surveys I have here. I just want to take a minute to say to all those watching us on CPAC or elsewhere right now, that it has been my dream ever since I was 15 to serve Canadians first and foremost. That is why I enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. That is why I dreamed of becoming an MP since I was 15. In 2015, I had the exceptional honour of earning the confidence of the majority of the 92,000 constituents of Beauport—Limoilou. I would like to tell them that, in my view, the House of Commons represents the opposite of what the Prime Minister said yesterday. He said it was just a room.
I did not like that because the House of Commons, which will close for renovations for 15 years in a few days, is not just a room, as the Prime Minister said. I find it unfortunate that he used that term. It is the chamber of the people. That is why it is green. The colour green represents the people and the colour red represents aristocracy. Hence the Senate chamber is red.
I hope I am not mistaken. Perhaps the parliamentary guides could talk to me about this.
It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister said that it is not the centre of democracy, because that is not true. I will explain to Canadians why it is wrong to say that Parliament is not the centre of democracy.
The Prime Minister was right when he said that democracy resides everywhere, whether in protests in the streets, meetings of political associations or union meetings. Of course, democracy happens there. However, the centre of democracy is here, because it is here that elected members sit and vote on the laws that govern absolutely everything in the country. It is also here that we can even change Canada's Constitution. The country's Constitution cannot be changed anywhere else or as part of political debates by a political association or a protest. No, it can only be done here or in the other legislative assemblies of the provinces in Canada. It is only in those places that we can make amendments and change how democracy works or deal with problems to address current issues. Yes, by definition, in a practical manner, the centre of democracy is right here. It is not, as the Prime Minister said, just a room like so many others. No, it is the House of Commons.
Just briefly, before I get back to Bill C-76, I want to talk about the six sculptures on the east wall. The first represents civil law; the second, freedom of speech; the third, the Senate; the fourth, the governor general; the fifth, Confederation; and the sixth, the vote. On the west wall, there are sculptures representing bilingualism, education, the House of Commons, taxation—it says “IMPÔT — TAX” up top—criminal law and, lastly, communications. Those sculptures are here because we are at the centre of democracy. The 12 sculptures represent elements of how our federation works.
With respect to Bill C-67, we have three main complaints.
First, Bill C-76 would make it possible for a Canadian to use a voter card as their only document at a polling station. To be clear, the voter card is the paper people get for registering as an eligible voter. From now on, the Liberals will let people vote using that card only. Currently, and until this bill is passed, voters have to present a piece of identification to vote.
There are risks in letting people vote without an ID card like a driver's licence, health card or passport. First, in 2015, the information on over one million voter identification cards was incorrect. That is a major concern. Second, it is easy to vote with a card displaying incorrect information. That creates a significant problem. It is serious. We need to make sure that voting remains a protected, powerful and serious privilege in Canada.
Our second concern—and this is why we have no choice but to vote against the bill and what upsets me the most personally—is that the government is going to allow Canadians who live outside the country to vote, regardless of how long they have been living abroad. There used to be a five-year limit. In Australia, it is six years. Many countries have limits.
Now, the Liberals want to allow 1.4 million Canadians who live abroad to participate in Canadian elections, even if they have not lived in Canada for 20 or 30 years. They will even be allowed to choose what riding they want to vote in.
Do the Liberals realize the incredible power they are giving to Canadian citizens who have not lived in Canada for 20 years? Those individuals could potentially choose a riding where the polls indicate that the race is very close and change which party is chosen to govern.
Our third concern about this bill is that the Liberals want to prevent third parties, such as labour groups, from accepting money from individuals or groups outside the country during the pre-writ period.
That is good, but there is nothing stopping this from happening before the pre-writ period. People will be able to take in money and receive money from groups outside the country before the start of the pre-writ period.
I thank all Canadians who are watching us for their trust. I look forward to seeing them in the riding next week.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:19 [p.24861]
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to know the member opposite had the same dream as I did, starting at age 15. I am glad to see that she went all the way to realizing this dream. Good for her. Marvellous.
The Liberals speak about this bill as if it is something fundamental, so why did they wait three years? We are three years into their mandate right now, three years of failures. We have three years of failure on the border, where we have almost 100,000 illegal border crossings happening right now. There is huge financial pressure on provincial governments to deal with this crisis. We have three years of failure concerning deficits. They promised that they would run a small $10-billion deficit, and now the Parliamentary Budget Officer, an institution created by Mr. Harper, something we should never forget, who brings accountability to the government every day he acts, has informed us this week that the deficit is way larger than what was announced two weeks ago. It will be about $26 billion just for 2018-19.
I completely disagree with the member. Yes, the right to vote is fundamental. However, the responsibility of the government is to make sure that voting is respected and protected for everyone.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:22 [p.24862]
Mr. Speaker, as I said, from day one we contributed to this bill. We proposed over 200 amendments, and only six of them were accepted. It is disappointing to see that now the Liberals will be going forward without the acceptance of all members. We are talking about a bill that would have an impact on future elections. We should require all members to stand behind such an important bill. We think it should have been a must for the government to accept many more of our amendments.
Yes, with respect to what the member just told us, if those kinds of situations happened during the last election, which was completely unacceptable, why not give more powers to the election directorate if we are able to? Why was the government so negative toward all the other amendments we brought forward?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 10:49 [p.22914]
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise to speak in the House.
I would like to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us now on CPAC or watching a rebroadcast on Facebook or Twitter.
Without further delay, I would like to address the previous speaker's comments. I find it interesting that he said their objective was to prevent foreign influence from third parties.
The bill will pass, since the Liberals have a majority. However, one problem I have with the bill is that it will allow more than 1.5 million Canadians who have been living outside of Canada for more than five years to vote in general elections, even if they have been outside Canada for 10 or 15 years.
These people have a privilege that even Canadians who have never left the country do not even have. The Liberals will let them randomly choose which riding they want to vote in. This is a massive privilege.
If I were living in the United States for 10 years and saw that the vote was really close in a certain riding, thanks to the new amendments made to the bill, I could decide to vote for the Liberal Party in order to ensure that a Liberal member gets elected. That seems like a very dangerous measure to me. It will give a lot of power to people who have been living abroad for a very long time. That still does not make them foreigners, since they are Canadian citizens.
For those watching us, I want to note that we are talking about Bill C-76 to modernize the Canada Elections Act.
This is an extremely important issue because it is the Canada Elections Act that sets the guidelines for our elections in our democracy. These elections determine the party that will form the next government of Canada.
I am sure that the people of Beauport—Limoilou watching us right now can hardly believe the Liberal government when it says that it wants to improve democracy or Canada's electoral system or allow a lot of people to exercise their right to vote. The Liberals' record on different elements of democracy has been deplorable the past three years.
Two years ago when the House was debating the issue, I was a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The Liberals introduced a parliamentary reform that included some rather surprising elements. They wanted to weaken the opposition, thereby weakening roughly 10 million Canadians who voted for the opposition parties, including the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Green Party.
They wanted to cut speaking times in the House, which is completely ridiculous. I have said it many times before and I will say it again. An MP currently has the right to speak for 20 minutes. Most of the time, each MP speaks for 10 minutes. Through the reform, the Liberals wanted to cut speaking times from 20 minutes to 10 minutes at all times. The 20-minute speaking slot would no longer exist.
I have a book at home that I love called The Confederation Debates. It features speeches by Papineau, Doyon, George-Étienne Cartier, John A. MacDonald, Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine, among many others that I could name. These great MPs would speak for four, five, six, seven or eight hours without stopping, long into the night.
With their parliamentary reforms, the Liberals wanted to reduce MPs' speaking time to 10 minutes. They wanted to take away our right to speak for 20 minutes. All this was intended to minimize the opposition's speaking time, to stifle debate on various issues.
What they did yesterday was even worse. It was a clear-cut example of their attitude towards parliamentary democracy. They imposed time allocation. In layman's terms, they placed a gag order on a debate on the modernization of the Canada Elections Act. No example could more blatantly demonstrate their ultimate intent, which is to ram the bill through as fast as possible. It is really a shame. They want to ram this down our throats.
There is also what they did in 2015 and 2016 with their practice of cash for access.
When big-time lobbyists want to meet with a minister or the Prime Minister to discuss an issue, they just have to register and pay $1,500, or $1,575 now, for the opportunity to influence them.
These are not get-togethers with ordinary constituents. These are get-togethers arranged for the express purpose of giving prominent lobbyists access to top government officials and enabling them to influence decisions.
Here is a great example. The Minister of Finance attended a get-together with Port of Halifax officials and people closely connected to the Port of Halifax. No other Liberal Party MP was there. That is a blatant conflict of interest and cash for access.
If Canadians have a hard time trusting the Liberals when they say they introduced this bill because they want to enfranchise people or improve democracy and civic engagement, it is also because of all of the promises the Liberals have broken since their election in 2015.
Elections and electoral platforms form the foundations of Canadian democracy. Each party's political platform contains election promises. Personally, I prefer to call them commitments. The Liberals made some big promises. They said they would run small $10-billion deficits for the first two years and then reduce the deficits. Year after year, however, as they are in their third year of a four-year mandate, they have been running deficits that are much worse: $30 billion, $20 billion and, this year, $19 billion, although their plan projected a $6-billion deficit.
They broke that promise, but worse still, they broke their promise to return to a balanced budget. As my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has put it so well often enough, this is the first time we are seeing structural deficits outside wartime or a major recession. What is worse, this is the first time a government has had no plan to return to a balanced budget. It defies reason. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, an institution created by the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, said again recently that it is unbelievable to see a government not taking affairs of the state more seriously.
Meanwhile, with respect to infrastructure, the Liberals said they were introducing the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history—everything is always historic with them—worth $187 billion. What is the total amount spent to date? They have spent, at most, $7 billion on a few projects here and there, although this was supposed to be a pan-Canadian, structured and large-scale program.
The Liberals also broke their promise to reform the electoral system. They wanted a preferential balloting system because, according to analyses, surveys and their strategists, it would have benefited them. I did not support that promise, but it is probably why so many Canadians voted for the Liberals.
There is then a string of broken promises, but electoral reform was a fundamental promise and the Liberals reneged on it. It would have made changes to the Election Act and to how Canadians choose their government. That clearly shows once again that Canadians cannot trust the Liberals when they say they will reform the Election Act in order to strengthen democracy in Canada.
Let us now get back to the matter at hand, Bill C-76, which makes major fundamental changes that I find deplorable.
First, Bill C-76 would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize the use of the voter information card as a piece of identification for voting. As one of my Conservative colleagues said recently, whether we like it or not, voter cards show up all over, even in recycling boxes. Sometimes voter cards are found sticking out of community mailboxes.
There are all kinds of ways that an individual can get hold of a voter card and go to the polling station with it. It is not that difficult. This Liberal bill enables that individual to vote, although there is no way of knowing if they are that person, unless they are asked to provide identification—and that is not even the biggest problem.
It does not happen often, thank goodness, but when I go to the CHUL in Quebec City—which is the hospital where I am registered—not only do I have to provide the doctor's requisition for blood work, but I also have to show a piece of ID and my hospital card.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 12:09 [p.22929]
I believe you, of course, Madam Speaker.
That is completely ridiculous in the current context. My colleague is talking about something that happened a number of years ago. However, in the current context, there are practically no bills. The government's legislative agenda is practically non-existent. What is it introducing right now?
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership has been signed. We are waiting for the USMCA to be examined here in the House so that it can be ratified. We voted only once this week. We are beginning to wonder what we are doing here. The Liberal government is not introducing any meaningful legislation. This week, we had the opportunity to debate an extremely important bill, and the government imposed a gag order on us. Looking at the government's legislative agenda, it seems that we should have been able to take as much time as we needed to discuss that bill.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 12:11 [p.22929]
Madam Speaker, our critic for democratic institutions and other Conservative colleagues on the committee presented and tabled 200 possible amendments to the bill. These amendments would not only have strengthened the bill but possibly also given the Conservatives the privilege and honour of voting for the bill.
Concerning the citizens' voting cards, one million cards sent to citizens in the last election contained erroneous information. Also, as an Ipsos Reid poll indicates, 87% of Canadians do not see why it is a problem for them to be required to have another identification card when they present themselves at the polling booths.
It is at the basis of democracy that we make sure that the right person is on the card when someone goes to the polls to vote to choose the next government.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the member for Willowdale has spoken quite eloquently about Canada's past, our history. Canada marked its 150th birthday recently. He told us the truth, that throughout history we have increased the enfranchisement of voting rights, which is great. I would like to remind the member that Borden's Conservative government gave women the right to vote. It was a great movement in history for this country.
However, I would also like the member to reflect on the fact that today we have legitimate questions. These are not questions about the fact that the Liberals are trying to help more handicapped persons or military members have access to voting. We have specific questions regarding how we can trust the government, which in the last year has shown disregard for electoral fundraising with cash for access, and disregard for a fundamental promise made during the election to reform the way people vote. How can we trust the government going forward?
As well, we are hearing the Elections Canada director telling the government that it is too late now to implement those changes for the next election. What is the main goal of the government? How can we trust it going forward?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her speech, but I think she is mistaken and has some philosophical conflicts. She talked about the integrity of the voting system, but the main goal of this bill is to permit voting by people who have no identification, but only the identification cards given by Elections Canada. The main goal of this bill is not the integrity of the action of voting, or which government is chosen by the people. The goal is to permit people to vote without government identification. This in itself bears with it the great danger of disrupting the integrity of the voting system.
How can the member address the House and talk about the integrity of the voting system when one of the major changes this bill would bring to that system would be very dangerous to its integrity?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today as we get back to the House after a week in our ridings. Last week was very busy, I must say. I also want to take this opportunity to say hello to the many constituents of Beauport—Limoilou who, as always, are watching now on Facebook Live or who will be watching at a later time when the videos are posted on CPAC.
Today we are talking about democratic participation, which I find fascinating. If there is one thing that interests me most in life, it is democratic participation. This was the reason I got involved in politics. I urge Canadians to get involved. Last week I held the first-ever “Alupa à l'écoute!” public consultation in Beauport—Limoilou. I spent more than six hours listening to my constituents and answering their questions. Ultimately, my goal was to hear about the concerns, challenges, and difficulties they face in their day-to-day lives. The next consultation will be in Giffard on September 13, and the third will be in Beauport on November 17. For more information, people can call 418-663-2113. After these three public consultations, I will produce a report in the winter of 2019 and introduce a bill to address an issue that people face in their day-to-day lives. In those six hours last Thursday, I answered every question from around 40 constituents. I was very proud, because this kind of democratic accountability is absolutely essential. That actually ties into this bill.
Let us talk about participatory democracy. Once again, Bill C-76 is not all bad, but we expect that the Conservatives will vote against this bill for specific reasons. I did say “expect”, but that will depend on what happens in committee. My first impression is that this is another attempt by a government that brags about its international and national brilliance. Specifically, the Liberal government thinks it has a monopoly on being virtuous all the time. They want to sell to Canadians on the idea that with this bill they are again improving the accessibility of the electoral system and the eligibility to vote. A number of Liberal colleagues spoke in this place about the integrity of the system. With respect to Bill C-76, we feel that some of the amendments and new rules will directly or indirectly undermine Canada's electoral system.
My Liberal colleague, who as usual was fiery and spouted anti-Conservative rhetoric, said that voting is of course a fundamental right, but that it is also a privilege, as my colleague from Lethbridge stated. It is a privilege that requires a right and individual responsibility first and foremost. The laws that govern Elections Canada at present seek not just to foster participation, but also to ensure that this duty is carried out with integrity and responsibly. It is really a conflict between how to increase the public's participation and how to ensure that the right to vote remains a protected right.
The Liberal member for Willowdale spoke eloquently of the history of our great federation by talking about the changes in voting almost every decade; we went from suffrage on the basis of property ownership to popular ballot. We went from the popular ballot, just for men, to voting for women, thank God. It was Borden's Conservative government that gave women the right to vote. All the parties here, Canada's major governing parties, Liberal and Conservative, are always in favour of making voting more accessible.
We have some technical questions about the bill. That is unfortunate because, as my Liberal colleagues said, accessibility to the vote is a fundamental debate. Why did the Liberals move a time allocation motion a week ago? We were supposed to vote on time allocation today. Surely, the Liberals backed down after finding that they would look undemocratic by allocating only two or three hours of debate on such a fundamental issue.
In comparison, for Conservative Bill C-23, which dealt with Elections Canada and which was introduced during the 41st Parliament, we had four days of debate for a total of 14 hours, in addition to 23 meetings in committee, on this bill that was aimed at improving our electoral system. At this point, we have only had two hours of debate on Bill C-76.
As the NDP did, it is important to recall the concerns raised by the Chief Electoral Officer. He said that the government had previously tabled the amendments to Bill C-76 in Bill C-33, which died on the Order Paper. Actually, it did not exactly die on the Order Paper, because there was no prorogation, but it never got beyond first reading. The Chief Electoral Officer therefore told the government that it needed to get to work right away if it really wanted to make changes in time for the 2019 election. However, the government waited until the last second to make these changes, just days from the deadline set by the Chief Electoral Officer. Clearly, this is just another tactic to keep us from debating Bill C-76 properly.
Certain parts of this bill are fine, but what I find utterly astounding about it is that it proves that Mr. Harper was right back in 2015. The Liberals called us terrible, horrible partisans for announcing the election on July 1. However, the reason we did that was because Mr. Harper had noticed a problem. During the month of June 2015, unions, such as the FTQ in eastern Canada and other big unions in western Canada, which of course are free to protest, had spent tens of millions of dollars on partisan ads attacking the Canadian government in power at the time, which was a Conservative government. Since we could not respond to that situation because we were not in an election period, Mr. Harper, a man of unimpeachable integrity, decided to call an election so that we could respond using election expenses.
Throughout the campaign, the Liberals called us enemies of democracy who only cared about winning votes. In fact, they still say that about us today. However, by creating a pre-election period beginning on June 30 in Bill C-76, they are confirming, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Mr. Harper was right to do the same thing four years ago. That is a tribute to our former prime minister.
What exactly would Bill C-76 do? It would expand voter eligibility. Apparently this bill would prepare future voters by creating a register of young people aged 14 to 17 so that Elections Canada can start communicating with them. That seems kind of strange to me because that is when young people are most likely going to CEGEP or community college and living in apartments with two or three roommates. I do not really know how that communication is supposed to happen considering that young people today use their phones and social networks such as Facebook to communicate.
My Liberal colleague said that Liberals support enfranchisement, but giving kids the right to vote is something else entirely. He said that voting is a basic right, but that there is discrimination inherent in our system because Canadian citizens under the age of 18 do not have the right to vote. Voting is not in fact a privilege and a basic right granted to everyone. There are limits, and we can all agree that those limits are good for democracy and the duty to vote because people under the age of 18 have to go to school and do their homework. I strongly agree with that. If they are not in school, they should at least be working or travelling around the world and around Canada without asking anyone for money. I can say for sure that, up to age 18, people should be preparing to exercise their civic duty. That is why people cannot vote until they turn 18. It is not in fact an absolute right for everyone. There is already some discrimination inherent in the right to vote in Canada.
Then there are three pre-election periods. I have already mentioned the pre-election period, so let us talk about the “pre-pre-election” period. There is already a problem with this one, since there will be no constraints on the financial commitments of domestic and international third parties.
Until June 30, we know very well that all the international environmental groups, who like to see the Prime Minister contemplating the death of the oil sands, will spend millions of dollars to promote the end of natural and energy resources in Canada, which is very bad news. Natural resources represent 40% of the Canadian economy. We are in an energy transition. The systematic blindness on the part of the Marxist left and the centrist left in Canada is astounding. We are always being told that we are not making any effort on the environmental front. Since 1960, the environment has been systematically and continuously improved. Let us also not forget that this 40% of the Canadian economy is used to fund hospitals, education programs and our elections, which still cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
They also want an extended period of advance polling, which is very good. I won because of advance polling, so it is a very good idea. Joking aside, it is a good thing.
With regard to limiting the election campaign to 50 days, we could also ask why 50 days and not 37.
The Liberals want to change the requirement of having identification with an address and photo. It will be terrible. I go door to door every month in my riding—
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.
I held a town hall last week and I go door-knocking every month. I have knocked on 35,000 doors. In all honesty, no one has ever brought up the potential problem of not having an ID card to vote. We need an ID card for many things in our society. We are talking about the vote that will determine the next Canadian government. In 2015, 16% of the cards we got from Elections Canada had significant errors. What is more, it is very easy to get a voter card.
Sometimes in community buildings with 160 dwellings the mail room can be a bit of a mess. Mailboxes overflow with paper and anyone can grab an Elections Canada voter card and go to a polling station and vote. We are simply asking the Liberals to ensure that the right to vote is not just a game where anything goes. It has to be reasonably protected and ensured.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Incredibly, Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is telling Canadians that the objective of 99 MPs is to suppress the vote of Canadians; he is also responsible for the Phoenix file, and we all know how that is going. He should be ashamed to say that about 99 MPs who represent nine million people. He rose in the House and dared to say that 99 Canadian MPs want to suppress the vote. That is terrible and nothing but rhetoric.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:07 [p.16808]
Mr. Speaker, at the end of my colleague's speech, he said that this new system the Liberals would bring forward with this bill, until we win the next election and delete it, would make it so that the governing party would have a systematic preference for raising money, which would make it stronger for the next election.
Does the member think that it is more than just a privilege that would give the Liberals more strength? Does he think that this is close to real corruption?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:09 [p.16808]
Mr. Speaker, many people from Beauport—Limoilou are listening to us this evening, and I would like to say hello to them. It is a pleasure to represent them, especially this evening as we debate Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing) an act to amend the Canada Elections Act. This bill basically seeks to legitimize and formalize a palpable and tangible form of corruption in Canada. We first saw this system in the 1990s and 2000s, under the successive governments of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. However, the federal Liberals have also used this system over 100 times since 2015. They are now trying to formalize and legitimize it by introducing a bill in the House.
What was the system established by Ontario's Liberal government in the 1990s? Two people were responsible for its implementation, namely Mr. Butts and Ms. Telford. Mr. Butts is currently the Prime Minister principal secretary. He works in the Langevin Block. I will always call it by this name because I am very proud of it. Mr. Langevin is a French Canadian who spent his entire career fighting for Quebec's right to have a seat at the cabinet table so that Quebeckers and French Canadians would be heard at the start of the 20th century. Mr. Langevin was also a great source of pride for Macdonald's government. Thus, it is an affront to me that his name was removed from the Langevin Block. I now will return to the matter at hand.
Mr. Butts is principal secretary to the Prime Minister, and Ms. Telford is, or at least I think she still is, the Prime Minister's chief of staff. Incidentally, the Prime Minister's Office is another institution that should be shut down immediately. What did those two individuals do when they introduced this system in Ontario? They made sure that ministers—as well as any backbenchers like myself and other members here who want to advance their career and perhaps become a minister to do great things for this country—would have to conform to a system that would relegate the issues that matter to them to the back burner, issues like the Constitution, the development of francophone communities, their ridings, their constituents, and community groups. The members are told that what matters is filling the party's coffers so that they can win elections, not with well-reasoned arguments, but rather by spending billions of dollars.
This system involved quotas for each minister and anyone who wanted to become a minister. For example, the finance minister and the Ontario health minister each had to raise half a million dollars a year. In this tightly organized system, the cocktail parties and fundraisers hosted by ministers had to be linked somehow to their portfolios. Another thing that surprised me about the Liberal members' speeches is that they do not want to talk about the very clear distinction between partisan fundraising events and cash for access events like the ones the Liberals held over 100 times between 2015 and 2017.
Just like every MP in Canada, I have fundraised with members of my own party, the Conservative Party, or with people who were interested in meeting Conservatives in order to better understand our political philosophy, what we can do for Canada, where we are coming from, and where we are going. In short, they wanted to know our ideas for this great country. However, I have never attended a fundraiser where there were 30 people from the same organization or the same profession who had an existing contract, business project, or other interest to bring to the attention of some federal department.
Every time that I participate in a fundraiser, many Canadians who are interested in politics come to meet the Conservatives to find out more about our political party. However, cash for access fundraisers stem from considerable pressure from the Prime Minister's Office. The justice and finance ministers, for example, are required to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Under this system, every minister purposely and carefully comes up with detailed guest lists that include organizations or individuals that lobby the government on files related to his or her portfolio.
Here are two real-life examples. As recently as 2016, the Minister of Justice organized an event in Toronto. I do not remember the exact date, but this event has been discussed at length today. Most of the people who attended were lobbying the government to make changes to the Criminal Code and the Canadian judiciary, or even to become judges. I would like to know if there was even one Liberal MP at that event or whether even one ordinary Toronto resident was there to learn more about the Liberals' political philosophy—if they have one, other than a desire to be in power. In short, the Minister of Justice had to apologize for organizing this event, since it was so blatant.
It was the same thing when the Minister of Finance met with port authority representatives in Halifax. That event was also attended by businessmen who had very important things they wanted to talk to the Minister of Finance about. Here again, they were not card-carrying members of the Liberal Party who wanted to know more about his vision for the country, and nor were they Haligonians interested in finding out what their 35 or 36 Liberal MPs are doing for Atlantic Canada. They were lobbyists with specific interests who knew full well that paying $1,500—that is now $1,575—would give them direct access to the minister and a chance to voice their concerns or make specific requests.
Those are two of the more egregious examples. Luckily, editors-in-chief at Canada's major daily papers got wind of them. Journalists tend to be pretty lenient with this government, but these two typical cash for access functions stank so badly of corruption that the media ran the stories.
The Prime Minister himself said that this practice lacked transparency and that it likely should not be condoned in Canadian politics because it would only make Canadians more cynical and less likely to want to take part in democracy when they see that it takes $1,500 to gain access to the Minister of Finance. When the media reported that and the Prime Minister and the government acknowledged that it was unfortunate for Canadian democracy, the Liberals decided to fix the problem by introducing Bill C-50, which, as I said from the outset, seeks to formalize and legitimize fundraising activities that provide special access.
What questions were raised in the House by my colleague from York—Simcoe, “Let us go back and see what happens. Is there anything in the bill that would stop the exact same thing from happening again?” The answer is no.
He went on, “Is there anything that would discourage it, because that maximum donation to the party is publicly disclosed anyhow?”
No, this will not prevent cash for access fundraisers from happening again. This is a smokescreen. There is absolutely nothing in this bill that will prevent this type of corruption in Canada. On the contrary, the Liberal government is merely legitimizing and formalizing rampant corruption and giving itself a leg up when it comes to fundraising in Canada.
We must condemn this. It is absolutely shameful.
As the member for Beauport—Limoilou, I strongly oppose this bill.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:20 [p.16809]
Mr. Speaker, the current government was caught red-handed. It seems obvious that if it had not been caught red-handed, it would have continued organizing these fundraisers. In any case, it is still engaging in this type of activity in a way. The Liberals are just taking a break from their cash for access fundraising events. They will pick up where they left off just as soon as the bill passes third reading, meaning that they will have legitimized and formalized a type of fundraising corruption in Canada. That is what the Liberals are doing.
Let's look at what they are doing with cannabis. It was illegal, but they saw this new product as an unprecedented money-making opportunity for their friends who are in business or play the stock market. This started 10 or 15 years ago in Canada with medical marijuana. Members of the larger Liberal family figured out that legalized cannabis could earn them billions of dollars.
The government has run gigantic deficits and needs to replenish its coffers by taxing a drug. The sole purpose of legalizing cannabis and this bill is to please the Liberal elite and help get the current government re-elected in 2019. We are going to do whatever it takes to stop that from happening.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:23 [p.16810]
Mr. Speaker, bluntly, the answer is simple. The only reason the Liberals did not accept any amendments in committee hearings from experts, all the arguments brought forward by the official opposition of Her Majesty, is that the bill was written in a way that would ensure they could continue cash for access starting next month. That is the single goal of the government: to start cash for access again, put money in their coffers, and get back to power in two years.
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