Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I have two items. One is that perhaps we can divide the two matters that are here. I'm hearing that there are two separate matters: one is relating to the number of mailings that can be sent out, which is a more scoped issue; and then there's a broader conversation that I'm hearing around what sort of material can be sent out or what the boundaries are on that.
I would hate to entangle those two items. I think one can move forward separate from the other, and one is a more detailed conversation that we have to have. That would be my first suggestion.
On the volume, I hear what members are saying, and I think that communication is incredibly important. However, I would point out that 10 times a year is an extraordinary number of mailings. There is a point at which perhaps people need to work on their brevity or how succinct they are. There are serious costs involved in mailing, and if you want to mail more than 10 times a year to your constituents, to me that starts crossing the line of being relatively excessive.
This was exactly the problem with the ten percenter program. There were no rules or boundaries on how it was used, so theoretically you could be putting out ten percenters every single day. I think it's moving to some kind of uniformity and giving some kind of clarity to members.
Again, we can have that conversation. If there's a slight upwards adjustment, for example, if 92% of people are covered by 10, and we can get up to 98% by doing 11, then let's do 11 and move on with it. That's the one point.
On the second point, I just have to put it on as a matter of record that I think there's a material difference between the debates we have in the House and the materials that we send out to constituents. I say this as somebody who has spent nearly six years in opposition as well and agrees with the general thrust of what's being said. However, we don't want to be in a situation where we're effectively funding partisan undertakings.
If you get to a point where you're unable to distinguish between a campaign flyer and a householder, that's a serious problem. I think that matters of debate around policy, around issues, are of course fair game. If we're talking about keeping that line between a difference of opinion and policy, I think that's a fair boundary, but I get concerned if we're drawing in the use of House resources to fund essentially partisan propaganda. We all have it; we all have a particular partisan message that we're disseminating, but I think that line, that wall, is important. It's a judicious line, and it's one that I would defend rather vociferously.
If we're going to have a conversation on that, I would want to extricate it from this particular matter. I think if the two are entwined, it could lead us to a circumstance where we don't change this, and then if we don't change it, we're left with the continuance of something that has been in long need of overhaul.