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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 10:49 [p.22876]
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
2018-02-05 18:07 [p.16784]
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.16784]
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.16785]
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.16786]
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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