STANDING COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE
AND HOUSE AFFAIRS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA PROCÉDURE
ET DES AFFAIRES DE LA CHAMBRE
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Wednesday, November 3, 1999
The Chair (Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.)): I'll
call the meeting to order. I see a quorum. We're continuing our
study of Bill C-2, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act.
We have a couple of witnesses with us this evening. We'll start with
Mr. Miguel Figueroa of the Communist Party of Canada. He's the party
Mr. Figueroa, what we've been doing throughout these hearings is to
have each of the party representatives make a presentation of about 10
minutes, then we'll get into questioning. So if that's okay with you,
Mr. Miguel Figueroa (Leader, Communist Party of Canada): Very
good. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee.
My name is Miguel Figueroa, and I'm the leader of the Communist Party
of Canada. I want to take this opportunity to thank the committee for
giving our party this opportunity to present its views concerning Bill
C-2, the proposed new Canada Elections Act.
The Communist Party, Canada's third oldest party, was founded in
1921. The CPC became a registered party in 1974, when the system of
party registration was first introduced, and maintained that party
status until September 27, 1993, when it failed to field 50 candidates
in the 1993 general election.
Despite its deregistration, however, our party has continued to
function in most provincial jurisdictions and also at the federal
level, fielding candidates, although due to our deregistration they
were denied the party identifier on the ballot in both the 1993 and
1997 federal elections.
I would like to begin by making some comment about the process of
electoral reform, and how the current legislation came about and is
being considered. In short, we feel that much-needed reform to the
Canada Elections Act is long overdue, but that the current legislation
has been introduced in an abrupt and arbitrary manner by the
government, without adequate consultation with the Canadian people as
a whole through Canada-wide public hearings.
It's our view that this process is inadequate and fundamentally
undemocratic. Bill C-2, legislation that, after all, sets out the
entire framework for the electoral process at the federal level, is
far too important to receive such cursory examination and public
debate. We hope the standing committee will make greater effort to
solicit the views of all interested parties and organizations, and to
hold public hearings so that all Canadians may have the opportunity to
express their opinions and concerns on Bill C-2 and on the electoral
process as a whole before this legislation proceeds to second and
On the legislation itself, we would like to raise the following
First of all, concerning the 50-candidate rule, as stated above, our
party, amongst others, was deregistered in 1993 for failure to field
50 candidates during the general election. Just prior to the 1993
election, significant amendments were introduced by the Mulroney
government to the Canada Elections Act in the form of Bill C-93, which
dramatically increased the financial burdens on smaller parties and
also introduced the seizure of party assets penalty on those parties
that failed to maintain the registration under these new conditions.
On the eve of our party's deregistration, the Communist Party filed a
legal action contesting the constitutionality of several of those
aspects of the Canada Elections Act. After several legal delays, our
case, Figueroa v. Attorney General of Canada, went before the Ontario
Court general division in the spring of 1998. On March 10 of this
year, Justice Anne Molloy released her decision, striking down as
unconstitutional several provisions in the old act, including the
50-candidate rule, the seizure of party assets, and the withholding of
50% of candidate deposits, which is particularly onerous on smaller
Concerning the 50-candidate rule, Justice Molloy found that this
provision violated the charter because it provides an advantage to
candidates of larger parties, while denying it to others. In her
order, Justice Molloy struck down the 50-candidate provision, reading
this provision down to two candidates.
The 50-candidate ruling of the Molloy judgment is currently under
appeal by the Attorney General's department. At the same time
however, that order has not been stayed, and carries full legal force,
at least in Ontario, where the ruling was made.
Therefore, we were dismayed that this government should introduce a
new act that contains the same 50-candidate provision as that which
was struck down as unconstitutional in the current Canada Elections
Act. This shows, in our opinion, contempt for the Ontario court
ruling, and for the democratic and legal principles upon which it is
based. Accordingly, we call on the standing committee to right this
wrong by introducing amendments to subclause 370(1) of the current
legislation to change “50”to “2”.
On the seizure of assets of deregistered parties, in her judgment,
Justice Molloy also struck down the provisions of the current act that
require deregistered political parties, for the specific reason of
having failed to field 50 candidates, to turn over their assets to the
state. Justice Molloy noted that such punitive measures were highly
damaging to the democratic process and that it was:
easily possible to protect any government interest
in ensuring those monies are not misused without the
draconian measure of completely stripping a political
party of all of its assets.
The government chose not to appeal this part of Justice Molloy's
We had reasonably expected that the new act would therefore eliminate
all reference to this thoroughly anti-democratic provision. It turns
out, however, that the government is intent on retaining this
draconian clause, albeit in modified form.
Under clause 385 of Bill C-2, parties are not required to turn over
their assets in such cases if they undertake to run 50 candidates in
the next election. If, however, they fail to field the 50 candidates
in the following election, they will still be forced to turn over
their parties' assets. In other words, parties will now be given a
delayed sentence—one more chance to avoid the gallows. The
punishment, however, remains the same. In our view, this new
provision still violates the intent of the court's ruling and again
shows contempt for the Molloy decision.
Why is the government attempting to retain this right of seizure of
party assets in disguised form? Is it to force our party and other
democratically minded Canadians to expend more time, energy and
funds—including public funds—to again challenge this provision
before the court to re-establish its own constitutionality? Or worse,
is it to force our party and other small parties off the playing field
at the federal level altogether?
The standing committee would be well advised to correct this gross
error at this stage before it is read into law, by removing all
reference to the seizure of party assets in such cases.
I would now like to make some brief comments about other aspects of
the legislation before you, and on the electoral process in general.
When the permanent voters list was first introduced, our party and
many other organizations and experts expressed the concern that a
great number of Canadians would be effectively disenfranchised as a
result. We feared that the elimination of a Canada-wide enumeration
and its replacement with a permanent list would result, over time, in
a proportional reduction in the number of registered voters.
Furthermore, the shift of onus onto individual voters to ensure that
they were registered would impact hardest on working class people,
especially tenants, the elderly, the young, other first-time voters,
citizens whose first language was neither English nor French, workers
who must rely on transient and short-term employment, and the
In fact, such disenfranchisement of Canadian voters has already
become apparent, on a large scale and within a very short period of
time. Recent experiences in provincial and municipal elections, based
on the permanent voters list, especially the recent Ontario election,
show serious flaws in this system of voter registration.
It has been suggested by some that those voters who were not
registered under the new system and therefore did not utilize their
franchise right have only themselves to blame. Our party
categorically rejects this cynical argument. On the contrary, we
believe there exists a social responsibility to ensure that every
citizen is registered and fully informed of election dates, voting
places and times, and so on.
That responsibility devolves on the federal government under the
charter to ensure that all citizens have the means to exercise their
right to an informed vote. It is our strongly held view that this
social responsibility to guarantee all Canadians the fundamental
democratic right to vote can only be achieved through enumeration
prior to each federal election.
On third-party advertising, the standing committee does not need to
be reminded that the issue of third-party advertising came sharply to
the fore during the 1988 general election. Large financial and other
corporate interests spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the final
days of the campaign to influence the election, in order to re-elect
the Mulroney Conservative government and secure the passage of the
free trade agreement with the United States.
The public uproar over this corporate intervention led to the
establishment of the Lortie commission and its sweeping
recommendations to curtail the extent of third-party advertising
during elections. At long last, the current government seemed prepared
to introduce some reform in this field. But under intense pressure
from corporate interests, this government has made a wholly
unprincipled retreat, in our view.
The grossly inadequate provisions under Bill C-2 would only give the
appearance of restricting this practice, while allowing for
substantial third-party advertising by corporate Canada to influence
the democratic process. Our party condemns this retreat and urges
this committee to introduce amendments that would substantially
strengthen restrictions on third-party advertising in Canada.
While the broadcast provisions are not specified under Bill C-2, and
instead are covered by the Broadcasting Act, these provisions directly
affect the electoral process as a whole. Therefore, our party wishes
to take this opportunity to again urge Parliament to amend these
undemocratic provisions, to guarantee more equitable access, through
the mass media to the Canadian people, for all political parties in
Under current legislation and practice, the large established parties
not only receive the lion's share of allocations for paid advertising,
but they also benefit most from available free broadcast time, both
during and between elections. The allocation of a paltry three
minutes of free broadcast time for the smaller parties, in both
official languages, is completely farcical. Because the Canadian
people are effectively deprived of a chance to hear and consider the
positions and platforms of all political parties, their charter right
to cast informed ballots is essentially impinged. The current
provisions are not adequate, and tend to promote and perpetuate the
The Communist Party therefore calls for the introduction of a better
system for allocation of free and paid broadcast time for all parties,
including a higher base allocation for smaller parties.
On proportional representation, as the standing committee is well
aware, there is growing support, both inside and outside of
Parliament, for the adoption of some form of proportional
representation in Canadian elections. Our party has long supported
the introduction of PR as vastly more democratic and reflective of the
wishes of the Canadian people than the current first-past-the-post
system of constituency-based elections. Unfortunately, the current
government has again turned a deaf ear to this growing chorus of
public support for PR.
We therefore strongly urge the standing committee to propose that
this government immediately organize a series of wide-ranging public
hearings across the country on this and related questions of electoral
On the length of election campaigns, we consider that the reduction
in the campaign period is essentially detrimental to smaller
alternative political parties and the democratic process as a whole.
The step-by-step reduction in the campaign period from 60 days to the
current 36 days not only gives partisan advantage to the governing
party, but it also gives an overwhelming advantage to the largest
established parties as a group—those with highly developed electoral
machines and massive campaign funding.
On the other hand, smaller alternative parties lack the tremendous
financial resources needed today to publicize their political messages
and platforms to the Canadian people. The smaller parties simply
cannot afford to run high-impact publicity and paid advertising
campaigns through the national press and electronic media. Instead,
they must most often rely on door-to-door canvassing, leaflet drops
and so on, which take much more time to organize and execute.
The shorter campaign period therefore constitutes a staggering
disadvantage to alternative parties. The shorter election period also
makes it much more difficult for community and other democratic
organizations, such as unions, farm groups and so on, to organize
all-candidates meetings in constituencies to provide opportunities for
voters to meet local candidates, compare their platforms, and ask
questions of the respective parties and candidates.
Shorter election campaigns therefore truncate the democratic process,
replacing meaningful discussion and dialogue with the one-way
transmission of buzzwords, sound bytes, pretested slogans, and
quick-hit electronic images. The electoral process is reduced to a
commodity, with electors transposed into passive consumers and
political parties into professional hucksters.
Our party therefore considers that the 60-day campaign period, which
was in effect until the 1988 general election, should be restored.
Members of the committee, thank you for your attention. This
concludes my presentation on behalf of the Communist Party to the
committee. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Figueroa. You have touched on a fairly
large number of items in the bill, and I know members will have
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.): Yes. I signalled.
The Chair: Oh, I'm sorry, I was waiting for the hand signal.
Mr. Ted White: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Figueroa, you mentioned the 50-candidate rule and also the ruling
of Justice Molloy obviously being at two. Is there a specific number
of candidates that would satisfy you that would be higher than two?
Or are you sticking firmly to the position of the two candidates?
And I do have some other supplementaries.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: I'll try to give a short answer to it.
When the Canada Elections Act was first introduced in 1974 and the
50-candidate rule was established, it wasn't established on any
objective basis or analysis of the socio-economic and political
situation of the country. In fact the Liberal government of the day
proposed 75, the opposition Tories proposed 25, and they cut the
difference. And that's how they arrived at the 50-candidate rule. At
that time, however, our party accepted that and fielded 50 candidates
for a number of elections from 1974 onwards.
We have always had the view that political parties should be able to
be registered and have certain rights under registration, which would
include the name of the party identifier on the ballot. This is not a
privilege to parties; this is a basic right for citizens who walk into
a ballot booth to know who they're voting for. And when people cast
ballots for Miguel Figueroa, I would like them to know that they're
voting for a Communist and not for an independent or for a blank.
There are other basic rights that should accrue to political parties
that shouldn't be geared to any number higher than two. Justice
Molloy in her ruling made a very good argument, that one candidate
could well be considered to be an independent, but more than one
candidate running on the same platform, and particularly in a party
that meets all of the other qualifications of having an independent
auditor and having officers and democratic elections and constitutions
and so on and so forth, should be considered a party and they should
have certain basic rights under the act.
If you're asking me to suggest some other figure, you know that the
Lortie commission looked at different numbers. I think they tossed
out the idea of a dozen or 15.
The committee should know that in Britain, for instance, two is the
figure. In terms of the party identifier on the ballot, two or more
candidates qualifies for having the party identifier on the ballot and
so on. So it's rather complicated.
We have a ruling, however, from a high court striking this figure
down to two, and we're confident that it will be upheld on appeal.
We've stated that we're quite prepared to take it right to the Supreme
Court, because we think there are substantial charter arguments in
favour of this.
Mr. Ted White: Actually, I quite agree with the position you made
that the voter should be given that information. It shouldn't be
considered a benefit for the party; it should be considered a benefit
for the voter. And you illustrated it very well. The voter should
know that he or she is voting for a Communist, and this should be the
way it's seen. So in that respect Reform is supportive of your
I have two other short questions.
Considering the flaws in the enumeration process as it existed, your
criticism of the electronic voters list and your stated wish to go
back to the enumeration process.... You know how it worked. Nobody
has to provide identification. A person comes to the door and says,
“Are you a Canadian citizen? What's your name? And do you live
here?” If you wanted to go back to the old enumeration system, would
you support, though, the idea that a person would have to show proof
of residency and proof of Canadian citizenship in order to get on that
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Do you mean at the doorstep, when the
enumerator comes to the doorstep?
Mr. Ted White: Yes. When the enumerator comes.
Secondly, in terms of the unconstitutionality of things within the
Canada Elections Act, you mentioned third-party spending. With all
due respect, you can't have it both ways. There is another group of
people in Canada who have successfully twice struck down third-party
provisions as being unconstitutional. Now you want those reinstated.
You're arguing for things you want removed, that they're
unconstitutional, but surely you have to recognize the arguments
against third-party spending also, that it's not fair to put
restrictions on certain people.
So perhaps you could comment on those things.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: First of all, concerning the enumeration and
the question of verification, when a voter goes into an actual polling
station on election day he's not registered. Under the old system and
the new system they had to provide identification. Under the new
system, they have to provide not necessarily proof of citizenship but
certainly a valid identification, driver's licence and such. Under
the new system, for those people who are automatically registered this
takes place without proof of citizenship.
I'll give you a good example. I just became a homeowner in the last
year, and because I became a homeowner I was automatically placed on
the voters list. Yet you don't have to be a citizen to buy a home.
In fact, I might well be a non-citizen but appear on the voters list.
Our contention about the voters list has to do with the fact that by
placing the onus on the individual voter, it's a kind of
Americanization of the registration system. I don't mean entirely,
but the requirement that the individual citizens make sure they're on
the voters list and therefore they know where the polling station is,
when the vote is, and that they in fact have the right to vote, we
think, has resulted effectively in the disenfranchisement of thousands
of voters. The Ontario elections demonstrate that. As a matter of
fact, in regard to the early retirement of the former chief electoral
officer of Ontario, while it was not only for this reason, certainly
this was part of the criticism that took place after the recent
Ontario elections and led in no small part to that retirement by Mr.
What is the answer? We don't think that a return to mandatory
enumerations before elections is the total answer, but we think
certainly it would guarantee that more citizens were registered and
would be conscious and know that they had the right to vote. There are
many Canadians who may be citizens, who have been here for many years,
but English is not their first language, for instance, and when they
don't receive that form in the mail that we used to get, saying
“You're a registered voter and this is when you vote and so on. Take
this to the polling stating”, they don't go to vote.
There are those, as I said, who say that's their own fault, that
they're to blame for it. We think, on the other hand, that the
savings that have accrued by eliminating the enumeration process and
moving to a permanent voters list don't come anywhere near to
comparing to the impact, particularly on poor people, on tenants, on
those workers who have to travel across the country, on students, and
youth who have been effectively missed out through the shift to the
permanent voters list.
On the other question, third-party advertising, there certainly were
rulings in the Alberta court and so on, the National Citizens'
Coalition and other rulings. I would point out, however—and we make
this point in the written brief that we would like to submit to the
committee—that in the Supreme Court ruling, in the Libman et al case,
in fact the Supreme Court ruled quite differently, pointing out that
there was a basis for the government to put reasonable limits on
third-party advertising. In fact those limits weren't there. The
government considered introducing it, and it really never came into
force in an actual election. It hasn't really been tested in terms of
an election, and now there is a retreat and we think it's unfortunate.
We think the vast majority of Canadian people want the democratic
process to be as equitable as possible and not one that can be bought
and paid for through the massive use of finances to influence
elections in the critical days before the vote. So for that reason we
are in support of it. I don't think the two questions are connected,
if you will, Mr. White—our view with respect to third-party
advertising and our concerns with respect to constitutionality and
other points that we've raised.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Gar Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London, Lib.): I'd like to get
your comments on the whole issue of proportional representation. It
was once suggested to me by a European member of Parliament that the
advantage of our system was that MPs were more rooted to their
community. Take my example. I got elected by a certain group of
people in Elgin—Middlesex—London. Mr. Richardson got elected out of
Perth. We have to account to that group.
But you remove that once you move to proportional representation.
Really, whether you get into Parliament then depends as much on your
status within the party, on your ranking within the party system.
Because it gets 40% of the votes and it gets 40% of the candidates,
it's the party that determines whether you're in the top 40 or the
bottom 40. I think that would be a bad situation, because it would
cut out accountabilities to communities.
I just wonder if you want to comment on that.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: As you know, Mr. Knutson, it's not just a
black-and-white, either/or situation. There are various systems that
have actually been implemented in different countries, including
modified proportional representation or mixed systems that allow for
some constituency-based representation as well as a proportional
representation system that tends to more effectively reflect the
collective desires of the people. We recognize that there is this
contradiction under a total proportional representation system.
However, there are other ways and means by which that can be remedied.
One of the concerns we have, and we referred to it in terms of the
Broadcast Act and the whole question of the way campaigns are
conducted—the shorter campaign period and so on—is that while it's
true that under a constituency-based system MPs and MPPs and so on, at
the provincial level, still have a constituency that they're
ultimately answerable to, the emphasis has shifted overwhelmingly
under these new conditions towards identification with parties, as
opposed to individual candidates. This has been a gradual development
in Canadian political history, reflected in 1974, by the way, when the
system of party registration was first introduced. Before then, even
though there were Grits and Tories and so on, they did not run under
the party banner; they ran as individuals, even though everyone knew
they were members of different parties.
Nowadays, it's not at all uncommon—in fact I would suggest to you
that it is more likely the case in the majority of instances—that
voters decide to elect a certain party and its platform, to elect a
certain leader to lead the country, and that they don't even know the
name of their local candidates until they actually walk up to the
ballot box. I think this is particularly true in urban ridings.
Mr. Gar Knutson: Like Mississauga, for example.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: If we're honest with one another, I think we
recognize that this is a real fact of the political process. That's
not to say, however, that the principle that elected officials should
be responsible to their electors should be dispensed with. I think
this is one of the questions that, in our view, should be put before
the Canadian people.
We should be looking at different models and having an open
discussion about it. Unfortunately, the reality is that it will
probably not be introduced for a long, long time. That's because in
any one given circumstance it's in the best partisan interest of
whoever happens to be the ruling party of the day to continue with the
present system. It's kind of like a catch-22 situation. In our view,
however, the fact remains that Parliament and the Canadian government
as a whole cannot indefinitely forestall this question because there
is growing support right across the political spectrum for the
introduction of some sort of proportional representation system.
The Chairman: Ms. Dalphond-Guiral.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): First, I'd like
to make a short comment. I rather agree with you regarding party
identification, even if it has only two candidates, to make it easier
for voters to make their choice. It should be rather easy to do and it
should be done.
In your presentation, you said that as far as you are concerned, the
election period is too short. True, maybe the current election period
is a bit short, but I'm not convinced that we should go back to a 60
day-period. I'd like it if you could give me some arguments to
convince me to support your views.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Well, first of all, thank you for your
comments about the question on the number of candidates.
With respect to the election period, the election period was in fact
60 days for many elections. I think the onus would be on those to
substantiate in real terms why this was disadvantageous to the
Canadian people and to the democratic process. As you know, it was
shortened to 48 days. It was then shortened again relatively quickly,
this time to 36 days. The argument was that there was a certain
political exhaustion that took place among the Canadian people because
they were bombarded with political messages.
I should point out in this respect that there was an election
campaign in Israel recently, the one in which Ehud Barak was elected,
that went on for months and months. If you'll recall, I think it went
on for at least four or five months. I don't think the Israeli people
were exhausted by that. In fact, the voter turnout was much higher
than it normally is in Canadian elections. Of course there's a
different political circumstance, but the fact remains that under the
old system here, there were certain limits on mass
advertising—television commercials particularly—until about halfway
into the election campaign.
The impact of a shorter election campaign—and it's even a bigger
problem at the provincial level, where they're 28 days in many
cases—is that it makes it extremely difficult for newer parties, for
smaller parties, for parties that don't have substantial corporate
funding, to even get into the game and to survive. Bear in mind, for
instance, that the candidates must be nominated 21 days before the
election. Under the present system, that provides essentially two
weeks for parties to find candidates, and to get into the field and to
build some sort of momentum for the campaign. For the larger,
established parties, and for those parties that have a narrow
electoral list focus—all they do is run in elections, and between
elections they spend three and a half to five years fine-tuning their
electoral machines and their strategies and tactics for the coming
election—that's one thing. Smaller parties have neither the ways nor
the means to do that, and there is a tremendous scramble that goes on.
As a result, even when parties are able to field the necessary number
of candidates, their ability to reach their voters, to campaign, to
get out and visit 20,000 households in an urban riding and so on, is
So that's why we think there's a fundamental democratic question
involved in this. I think some of the problems related to having a
longer election campaign are much more easily dealt with and
ameliorated than the inherent problems of having short election
campaigns. In our view, the latter simply serve the interest of those
who are already part of the club.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: In your presentation, you
mentioned a number of requirements you'd like changed. If I were to
ask you to keep only one, which one would it be?
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Well, you have to tell me whether you're
going to implement one or not, and then I'll tell you.
Voices: Ah, ah!
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: No, no, but I'd like...
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Well, this is very hard, of course—
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: I am sure.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: —because we think all of them have—
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: You can well imagine that it's
also difficult for an opposition party.
M. Miguel Figueroa: Yes, well, in some respects the proposals
break down into two basic camps. One deals with electoral reform as a
process in the whole. If the standing committee and the government of
the day were to consider, as did the Lortie commission—which was a
truncated process, with many of its recommendations never fully
implemented—introducing a genuine process of popular consultation
about rethinking the democratic process as a whole in this country and
involving the Canadian people through public hearings, we think that
could address some questions, such as the issue of proportional
representation, the length of the election period, and so on, which
are all related questions.
In terms of the actual Bill C-2, we think some of the specific
proposals in Bill C-2, particularly the question of the 50-candidate
rule, are very serious, as is the question of the permanent voters
So I haven't really answered your question—
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Yes, I understood that.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: —but I would say that if the committee were
to consider two things, one would be to change the 50-candidate rule,
and the other would be to propose to the government that a broader
process of Canada-wide consultation and public hearings on the whole
electoral process would be a very useful undertaking, perhaps after
this legislation is even considered. Such issues would be those like
the right of recall and proportional representation. All of these
questions could be dealt with in such a broad consultation.
The Chair: I'll go to Ms. Parrish.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish (Mississauga Centre, Lib.): Thank you very
much. I'm pleased that I finally found the room, because I've been
trailing all over the place. You'd think I'd know what I was doing
around here by now.
Based on what I heard of your presentation, I think you're very
articulate and very pleasant and have some interesting ideas. One of
the things I'd like to get back to is this proportional voting. Let
me tell you about one of the things that I think works here.
I've monitored elections in other countries. I was in the Ukraine,
where they have a run-off situation because they have thirty parties
and thirty candidates. They take everybody that got a certain amount,
and they run a vote again in a couple of weeks. That's only based on
the fact that more than 70% of the people voted in the Ukraine. I
wasn't sure what they'd do if they didn't, but they did. They voted
in great numbers there, because it was their first democratic
election. I wasn't there for the run-off two weeks later, but I was in
Bosnia when they did run-off elections there.
This seems to be something that's being brought in in countries that
haven't had democracy before, or ones that haven't had it for a long
time. They're not reinventing the wheel, they're just coming out with
a brand new wheel the first time out of the chute. Ideally, then, it
is a system that seems to be quite popular.
In Canada, we have a long tradition of party affiliation and
community affiliation. There are very few MPs who don't run in their
own ridings, and there are very few who would be comfortable serving a
riding that's several provinces away. In the proportional
representation systems that I've looked at, some of them just involve
appointing somebody in the area once a party gets so many votes or
whatever—and I'm sorry if I missed the beginning and you clarified
What type of proportional voting would you be more interested in, the
type in which they do the run-off, like the ones in Ukraine and
Bosnia, or the one in which they elect x number for a party and
then the party selects its candidates? I know that happens in some
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Thank you for that question.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: I'm sorry I took so long.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: No, it's a good question.
With the cautionary note that I'm not an expert in these matters,
I'll just say that, to the best of my understanding, the system of
run-off elections—which is also used in France, by the way, as well
as in many other countries—is used in more of a presidential system
rather than a parliamentary system. Those run-off elections are not
for local MPs, but rather for the president of the country. We don't
elect a president, we elect a governing party, which then names the
leader of that party as the prime minister.
It would be difficult to see how a run-off system—which, we could
say, would be a democratic advance in some respects—could be easily
transferable to a parliamentary system. Because some countries have a
presidential structure, however, there are also cases in which they
have a run-off system of elections for the president, and proportional
representation for the national congress at the same time.
In New Zealand, as I indicated earlier, there is a mixed system.
They actually do have constituency-based members in the New Zealand
Parliament, but they also allocate something like 40% of the seats on
the basis of proportional representation. It doesn't precisely address
all of the aspects with regard to proportional representation, but it
essentially helps to shift the composition of those Parliaments more
in the direction of reflecting the overall wishes of the electorate.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: Perhaps if we had run-off-type balloting
here, we wouldn't have to have the Reform and the Tories form one
political party. People would have a second shot. If one right-wing
party didn't win, then they could vote for the one that did on their
second run at it.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: In fact, the experience of run-off elections,
where they're used, is that it tends to lead to that kind of
direction. Certainly in French presidential elections that is the
impact. So you have socialists versus communists and the Green Party
supporting the presidential candidate who got the highest percentage
on the first round, and the right-wing parties supporting their
I don't want to abuse our opportunity before the committee, but there
is a connection here with regard to the possibility of forming
coalitions of parties in order to gain a majority and how the current
act and the new proposed act make such a possibility much more
difficult. If you look around the world, you'll see that it is now
not an uncommon thing for parties in one election, or maybe even in
several elections, to decide that they have such common interests,
particularly around certain issues of big importance to the country,
that they choose to work in coalitions. They actually field coalition
candidates in certain elections. Under our act, for instance, it's
impossible to do that.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: I'd like to make one more comment, Mr. Chair.
This is really fascinating, and I've had fascinating discussions on
this with many other people. The only people who seem fascinated by
it are people who are in politics.
Before the 1997 election I had a riding with 350,000 people in it. I
received correspondence up to here every day, e-mails, the whole bit.
I didn't have one person ever talk to me about this or write or phone
me about it. One of the things I really enjoy is going grocery
shopping, but it takes me four hours to do a one-hour job because
everybody stops to chat in the various aisles. You pick up your
beans, and you go to the next aisle. I've never had anybody talk to
me about this except people who are really into politics.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: You mean the proportional representation.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: Yes. I've heard other people who have sat
here before you—
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: People have so many concerns about so many
things, such as jobs, health care, and so on.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: —say that everybody's really concerned about
democracy and everybody's really concerned that this system is going
to hell in a handbasket because the system's no good. But the public
doesn't seem to feel it as much as the people who are really into
That's just a comment. I don't expect you to respond.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: I think it's a fair comment. But I would just
remind you, and you will remember, that at the time of the 1988 free
trade election, there were more than a few people in Canada who would
have died to have a proportional representation system or some way of
expressing the majority view of the Canadian people with regard to the
most important issue in that election, namely, free trade.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: You're welcome.
I want to go now to Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson. I hope Mr. Figueroa can
stay, because there will be some further discussion, I'm sure.
Mr. Ted White: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: Mr. White.
Mr. Ted White: I just had a comment to wrap up that session with
Mr. Figueroa. Would I be able to make that? It's not really a
question. It's just to get a clarification.
The Chair: If you think it would help the record by keeping it all
in one place, that would be all right.
Mr. Ted White: I believe it would, because it relates to what
we've just been discussing.
Ms. Parrish mentioned she didn't get feedback from her constituents
about the need to move to proportional representation. In the New
Zealand case nobody showed any interest until they were asked, and
then they said overwhelmingly that they wanted it. In fact they chose
the MMP system you mentioned, which is 50% elected first past the post
and 50% proportional.
But also for the record, I would encourage you to call or write to
the Chief Electoral Officer regarding the recent experience in Ontario
with the electronic list. I don't want to go into detail here, but he
can give you his impressions, and I think they might satisfy a lot of
the concerns you have.
I would also mention that with regard to the electronic voters list
itself, it's updated in many ways. As people become citizens, they can
check a box on the forms they fill in that puts them automatically on
the voters list. Young people turning 18 years of age are
automatically mailed. The driver's licence records for most provinces
are used, so that as people move and update those records their
listing gets moved. I also moved to a new home recently, and it moved
with me—the records updated the voters list. So it's actually very
good at keeping track of people, and I'm sure that's what happened in
Finally, the Libman case with respect to third-party advertising was
about a provincial referendum. The Supreme Court commented on the two
cases in Alberta when it had never heard the evidence. It didn't hear
the cases. It's actually outrageous that the court would comment on
cases it hadn't heard. So the NCC, I can tell you, is just as adamant
that they're going to challenge any restoration of third-party
spending as you are in terms of the 50-candidate rule.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Chair: Okay, wrapping up that part of the record, thank you,
Now we'll we go to Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson, who is party leader for
the Libertarian Party of Canada. Welcome.
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson (President, Libertarian Party of Canada:
Thank you. I just have to make a correction. I'm not the party
leader, I'm the party president.
The Chair: Okay. Mr. Party President, welcome. Would you be in a
position to make a presentation to us now, a submission of about 10
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson: Yes. I put something together quickly,
because I only found out on Monday about this board.
The Chair: That's fine.
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson: Basically, I wrote something down about
what hurt us the most in the last election. It was the $1,000
In the past few years the election process has changed dramatically
in Canada. The electoral process was in the past a forum easily
accessible for anyone and everyone who wanted to contribute time and
effort in order to bring about a better way of life in this country.
It has been totally changed and is now controlled as an exclusive
club, providing you meet the standards laid down by those who wish to
keep the competition in check. Competition is the fringe parties and
the possibility that they might become a factor in winning or losing
In many elections, 5% of the national vote can swing an election. If
the fringe parties were not put under stringent controls by these
changes in the Election Act, the electoral map in Canada might
sometimes be different, especially when one party wins a majority by
only a couple of seats.
For the Libertarian Party of Canada, the major changes to the
Election Act that affect the fringe parties are the minimum of 50
candidates and the $1,000 deposit in order to be able to run as a
For the political parties that are represented in the House of
Commons, an amount of money such as $1,000 per candidate might not
seem to be a large sum. But for the fringe parties and independent
individuals who do not have that kind of money but wish to try to make
a difference, this clause has killed all hope of ever being able to
even attempt to run in an election.
The $1,000 is refundable, but only under certain conditions. If a
candidate does not garnish a certain amount of votes, then they
definitely lose $500. Even if all conditions are met, the money is
not available for months. The appalling side to this is that for the
winning candidate, there is the possibility of actually making money
with this clause, at taxpayers' expense.
The purpose of the Canada Elections Act was to make sure the rules
set for seeking office were followed by everyone, that no party or
candidate, or those volunteers working in the election process, take
advantages that would tip the scales in their favour. After all, the
purpose of an election is to allow the voters the full opportunity to
choose the most competent person they feel can do the best job at
running the country and protecting their rights.
As it stands now, these changes in the Canada Elections Act only
allow an elite group of people to run as candidates. To me, elections
should be not only for the elite but for everyone and anyone who
wishes to make a difference. The act should make it easier for
someone to run as a candidate, instead of hampering that.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Now I'll ask members if they have questions.
Mr. Ted White: I thought I indicated that to you earlier.
The Chair: We did make eye contact, absolutely.
Mr. Ted White: I'm still trying to be subtle, like some people.
The Chair: So am I. Anyway, we'll go to Mr. White for the first
Mr. Ted White: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Brisson, you should really thank the gentleman sitting beside
you, because thanks to his work in the courts, your $1,000 would be
refunded under the new bill.
So the question I need to ask you is, if it can be fully refunded, is
$1,000 still too high? Does it need to be lower? And if so, what
would be a reasonable amount, in your opinion?
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson: I understand your question. The problem
is that some people will run a campaign on about $500 to $1,000. And
when you take that money away.... The average little guy or little
woman who works in a factory, a shop, or a small business may have a
problem making ends meet day to day, but they want to make a
difference, they want to run. In the last election, I had 30 people
who said they just couldn't afford the $1,000. It would be tied up for
too long a period of time.
The previous $200, as you know, wasn't refundable if you didn't win,
and that was acceptable. But you lose $500 if you don't even get 15%,
and that's tough. That's very tough. The last election....
Mr. Ted White: It was the last election, yes.
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson: Now, as I said, I only read a quick
summary yesterday, so I'm not aware of every change that's been made.
But in the last election, that was the problem. The people knew they
were going to lose $500. And if they only had $600 or $700 to
contribute to the whole campaign—to make pamphlets and
everything—that was it.
If a bond were to be put up that would be fully refunded, that would
address some of the problems.
Mr. Ted White: And $1,000 in that case would be okay?
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson: I can understand why you want to make it a
certain amount of money, you know, a fair size, a certain amount of
commitment. I'd have to go back to my party members and ask them if
they're willing to accept $1,000, or if it's still too high. But I do
know that if it's fully refundable, that helps.
But the amount is still very high. I haven't seen what the proposals
are. I have no idea what they are. As I said, I found out about this
only on Monday.
The Chair: Well, just for the record—I'm sure staff will correct
me if I'm wrong—the current bill provides for a full refund of the
$1,000 deposit, provided that the required election filing after the E
day is made by the candidate.
Is that correct?
A voice: That's correct.
The Chair: Thank you.
Do you have other questions, Mr. White?
Mr. Ted White: I would just mention that my personal view is that
$1,000 is too high. I thought you might suggest something a little
lower, but as you haven't.... Probably with a fully refundable
deposit, provided that certain papers are filed, it opens up the
opportunity for people to perhaps take an assignment at a bank for a
short-term loan or something like that. The bank would know it's going
to be refunded, provided the papers are filed. So it is much more
flexible than the situation that existed.
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson: That's right. The last one was a shock to
many candidates who came along with their $200 and didn't know about
the change. They said, “What's this? I can't run.” We lost half
our people that way.
The Chair: Your chair has a couple of questions, colleagues. I
want to direct them to Mr. Figueroa and Mr. Brisson as well.
As you know, the current bill and the existing act have thresholds
for party status, and along with having party status come obligations
for filing and a fair bit of paperwork. Is it your view that a party
of only two or three candidates, with not much more infrastructure
than that, could handle the paperwork and filing requirements, which
appear to me at first blush to be fairly onerous, with audits and lots
of paperwork? My first reaction is that two or three people deciding
to run as a party in a particular location might not be able to handle
that much paperwork. Do you have a reaction to that?
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Well, Mr. Lee, I'm not sure that's the best
argument to make, in a political or jurisprudential sense, that there
might be too much paperwork, so we're doing you a favour.
But let me just say that in the act, of course, there are other
requirements for the registration of parties. They have to establish
that they have a certain membership when they apply for registration.
I think parties that find themselves in that circumstance would
voluntarily ask to be deregistered precisely because of the onus of
maintaining their party registration.
Now, I know that concerns have been voiced by the minister, and in
fact in court on behalf of the government, that this threshold is
required to ensure, for instance, not only that frivolous parties do
not enter the electoral arena....
It was interesting, by the way, when Justice Molloy pointed out that
in fact there was a party led by a magician, who advocated levitation
and so on, which fielded 191 candidates, whereas the Communist Party,
whatever you may think of us, is the third oldest party in the country
and is very serious. Because we didn't field 50 candidates, that
hardly makes us frivolous.
But in any case, one other argument is the question of abuse,
particularly of public funds, indirectly in the sense of the income
tax rebate, which is available to individual Canadians who donate to
political parties. This in fact may be used indirectly as a scam and
so on and so forth. Our party doesn't consider that this is not an
important question. However, in the 25-odd years of party
registration since the system was introduced in 1974, there have been
no indications of that kind of abuse of the registered party
status—at least to our knowledge, anyway—as a scam.
Sometimes I think these questions are thrown up as a justification
for keeping the 50-candidate rule: it would be either too complicated
or too onerous, or there would be too much paperwork, or there's a
danger of frivolous parties entering the fray, or there's a danger of
financial scamming and so on. The court has found that this is not
One other question is of course the argument that has been made—that
is, if you were to drop it to two candidates or five candidates or ten
candidates and so on, these parties could then access other benefits,
including, for instance, rights under the Broadcasting Act.
In our view, we think it is quite possible and even beneficial to
have differing thresholds for parties, depending on what we're talking
about. Certainly having access to reach the Canadian people is a
privilege. It is a privilege directly connected to the democratic
process, but nonetheless it is a privilege.
It's one thing to make the case that there should be a higher
threshold for those parties to access broadcast rights, for instance,
but with respect to things like party identifier or the question of
issuing tax receipts, this is something that infuriates our party.
When our party was deregistered, during the deregistration process we
had to tell people to vote for our candidates and support our program
but, whatever they did, not to send us money. Why? Because every
cent that was sent to us during the deregistration period had to be
turned over to the government. Can you imagine the absurdity of
telling people not to send us money during an election campaign?
What's more, even after the election when we were deregistered,
members, supporters, and non-members who support our party have
continued to donate to our party, but they cannot access an income tax
receipt because they're supporting a small party. Is that really fair
and reasonable? Even if only 100 people in this country want to write
out a cheque for $25 to their chosen political organization in the
country, shouldn't they have the right to receive a benefit from that?
This is in fact what Justice Molloy found as well: that it was
patently unfair that some Canadians can donate to some political
parties and get 75% back—and then 50%, then 33.33%—but other
Canadians, who donate to another political organization, which is a
bona fide party by any other standard, cannot access that basic right
under the Canada Elections Act.
These things need to be certainly addressed.
The Chair: Getting back to party thresholds, we in this Parliament
have to write a threshold for parties; we have to do that.
You mentioned the decision of the court in your favour. All of my
colleagues would acknowledge that this type of litigation has a very
important purpose. It moves the goalposts in society. It tests laws.
It tests it against charter and other constitutional compliances, but
at the end of the day, our job here, on behalf of Canadians who send
us here, is to write the laws.
Earlier you used the word “contempt”, I think, for this House to
rewrite the 50-candidate threshold in the face of a court judgment....
Well, I don't think it will be a surprise to you, because you
probably already know, but it is constitutionally impossible for this
place to be in contempt of a court. It is in fact our job to write
the laws; it is not the job of judges.
So whoever the judges are out there who enjoy writing, my colleagues
would probably want to suggest to them that they consider other ways
of doing their judicial functions.
That's without taking away at all the success that you have achieved
in your or your party's litigation.
That brings us back to what we have to do here: to write a threshold
for party status, possibly involving the number of candidates. Yes,
in theory it might be two, but it might be 50. I think you indicated
at one point that the Liberal Party of many years ago thought it
should be 75.
In your mind, is there some yardstick that we might use from the
perspective of your party in setting that party threshold—candidacies
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Thank you, Mr. Lee.
One consideration, which astounds people when they hear about it, for
instance, is.... First of all, let me preface this by saying that in
1974 when the 75-candidate proposal was introduced by the Liberal
government, one of the arguments in favour of 75, not made formally
but alluded to, was that it would preclude the possibility of a
regional party coming to life in a certain part of the country.
An hon. member: Prince Edward Island.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Prince Edward Island.
Well, of course, with the 50-candidate rule and the situation such
that there are now regionally based parties, the Bloc Québécois in
particular, it is an astounding contradiction that in an entire region
such as the Atlantic—the Maritimes and Newfoundland—you could not
have a regionally based party. Everybody would concede that Atlantic
Canada has major regional concerns. Were such a party to run
candidates in every single riding in Newfoundland, Labrador, and
throughout the Maritimes, it still could not achieve registered party
status in this country. That's a contradiction that needs to be
If I'm not mistaken, the Lortie commission recommended 10% of
ridings, which would be approximately 30. There have been others who
have suggested other figures—a dozen or 15.
I certainly understand your point about the final responsibility to
write this legislation being with Parliament. The court made a ruling
with respect to the charter in terms of the 50-candidate ruling. Our
purpose in raising this question was connected with other aspects of
the act as well: the seizure of party assets, the non-refundability of
deposits, and other aspects of the act as a whole that made and
continue to make it incredibly difficult for smaller parties to
participate in the political process.
If this committee were to come forward with another proposal, a more
reasoned proposal, we would look on it as real progress.
The Chair: What about party assets for the deregistered party?
The cash assets and many of the physical assets of a party would, for
the most part, have been acquired with funds to which the taxpayer had
made some kind of, as we call it around here, tax expenditure
contribution—in other words, a tax deduction, a tax deferral. I think
that is the driving factor in not letting a collapsed party, if one
were in theory to totally collapse, to simply walk away in an
unaccounted-for fashion with assets that were taxpayer assisted.
Do you have a solution for us there? Let's say a hypothetical party
has $750,000 in assets, and there's a taxpayer expenditure involved
underlying that. What do we do?
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: First of all, we made the case in our
presentation before the court and also in previous submissions to the
government. Our party was founded in 1921. The party registration
system wasn't introduced until 1974. Our party didn't just appear in
1974. We had assets, property, and fax machines. Did they have fax
machines in 1974?
The Chair: No, they had telex machines.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: I'm not sure. But in any case we had
telephones, photocopiers, and so forth, and none of those assets were
taken into account to say what your assets are as you come through the
door and then what your assets are at the end. That was never
In fact, the legislation on the seizure of assets was only introduced
in 1993. There was frankly very little consideration by Parliament
about the impact of it. It seemed like a good idea, but it wasn't
It seems to us, at least, that it was after the fact, after the
government had become wedded to this legislation—and being the
stubborn political animals we all are, once you pass something, you
find argumentation and justification to defend it—that the argument
was made that somehow the public interest has to be protected. Again,
there were no cases where the public interest and the public trust had
been violated by parties.
There was the Social Credit Party, for instance—
The Chair: Help us out. Do we have a responsibility to put
something in the statute or not? If we do, where do we turn here?
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: Once again, our party and most smaller
parties do not receive anywhere near the kind of public support from
the public purse that the large parties do. We do not, for instance,
receive the rebates on election expenses that the larger parties do,
and that's millions and millions of dollars. We have a much smaller
base of public support than that of the larger parties.
If a smaller party collapses, then they fail to meet other aspects of
the act, not just the issue of the 50 candidates.
The Chair: I realize that.
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: In those cases, under Bill C-2 those assets
would be seized if they failed to meet other responsibilities,
including having an audited statement accounting for how they used
their funds and so on and so forth.
Our contention has to do specifically with the issue of the
50-candidate rule and those parties that, for whatever reason, fall
below that, for instance, because they're rebuilding or because
they've had difficulties. It's an open secret, Mr. Lee—
The Chair: So what do we do? Tell me what you think we should do.
Should we do nothing or something?
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: What we're proposing is that the clause in
Bill C-2 that says this would be deferred for another election should
in fact be removed, and there should be no seizure of party assets
specifically in the case of parties who fail to field 50 candidates in
any given election. That's the way it was for 19 years. There was no
evidence that it was abused in any way, so we're saying it should be
returned to that.
The Chair: Okay.
Mr. Brisson, do you have a comment on that aspect?
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson: I have to agree with Mr. Figueroa as to
why change it. I can understand if funds are disappearing that you
can't account for, but if you get the audited statement and the money
is still there, why do you need to see the assets? The party got
deregistered because they had a problem running in that election.
That doesn't mean they're going to disappear. If you're afraid
they're going to take the money and run, then it's a whole different
But as my colleague is saying, the party has failed to field 50
candidates and to meet certain criteria, but they want to be back next
time around. The assets should stay maybe in trust, but they should
not be seized by the government. They were not given to a party so
that a government could come along and seize them. Those people have
a political ideal, they feel they want to support that ideal and they
didn't have a successful election, but they hope to be there the next
time around, and they'll continue donating and giving money to that
party, hoping that they'll come out and run again in the next election
and be more successful. But to do this kind of seizure, it kills all
hope to revive the party further on.
The Chair: Yes, the seizure sounds fairly final, doesn't it?
Mr. Jean-Serge Brisson: Yes.
The Chair: Like a bankruptcy.
Are there further questions? The chair has one more. I hope you'll
forgive me. I don't get to ask too many questions.
Mr. White will perk up on this one. It has to do with proportional
In our system here in Canada—and I'm not that familiar with other
systems around the world—we have to work within a regime of some
party discipline to a greater or lesser degree on both sides of the
House. Each of the parties has to deal with it. This is true in
almost every country that has political parties. You get this regime
of party discipline. If we had a proportional representation model in
our parliamentary system, it seems to me that the party whips, who
somehow, some way, would begin to control the party lists in the
proportional representation model, would begin to realize how much
power they really had around the House of Commons, and their ultimate
discipline would be to determine where each of the MPs who came
through PR would be on the list next time. So it seems to me the
party whips would have even more disciplining mechanism available to
them around the House of Commons with a PR type model and listing.
Some of us from time to time around here are concerned about party
discipline and the impacts it has, positive and negative, and we talk
about it. Do you have any reaction to that?
Mr. Miguel Figueroa: There is a danger, and there have been
problems with respect to this in terms of where you are on the list.
It's rather subjective, and in parties that are hierarchically and
undemocratically structured there is a big danger of that. However,
it seems this is a question that needs to be addressed elsewhere. It
needs to be addressed in terms of the democratization of political
parties and, for instance, requirements that political parties not
only have conventions but that their elected representatives,
caucuses, for instance, cannot overturn decisions reached in
conventions of the party membership, and so on and so forth. That is
the best guarantee that there is not that kind of concentration of
power in the hierarchy of political parties that would allow for this
kind of abuse.
However, it's an interesting question that you raise and I think it
requires a lot of examination. I'm not convinced that this danger
still doesn't exist under the current system, in the power of the
party leader, for instance, to give the nod to certain candidates and
certain constituencies and what not. But obviously there are revolts.
We all know about those revolts. And certainly, of course, MPs still
have the power to cross the floor and so on and to break out on their
own, voluntarily leave caucus or have caucus leave them.
In any case, these questions are why we're not coming forward with a
detailed proposal for proportional representation, but rather we say
there is something there, and where there's smoke there's fire. In
that sense, I think it behooves the government and the standing
committee to say that we should find some sort of process to have a
genuine debate and dialogue on this question among the Canadian people
as a whole.
The Chair: Thank you.
The clerk has just reminded me I've gone past my time.
Are there any further questions, then? One last question to Mr.
Mr. Ted White: I'd like to make a comment. I did perk up when you
mentioned proportional representation, not because I particularly
The Chair: I thought you would.
Mr. Ted White: —but because it is a very complex area. There are
numerous methods of proportional representation, but even within MMP,
the mixed member proportional system that is used in New Zealand,
there are two different ways you can select your list. It can be
selected by either the riding associations, which takes the power out
of the hands of the whips, or by the party—or by a combination of
So even within that one system there are different variations. It is
a very complicated area. We could sit here for weeks discussing
The Chair: We might, we might not.
I want to thank both of our witnesses for making it here tonight.
Thank you very much for your contribution.
To Mr. Brisson, obviously we're working on the $1,000 issue.