STANDING COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE
AND HOUSE AFFAIRS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA PROCÉDURE
ET DES AFFAIRES DE LA CHAMBRE
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Wednesday, November 24, 1999
The Chair (Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.)): I see
a quorum, colleagues. We're continuing our study of Bill C-2, the
Canada Elections Act.
We are delighted to have one witness with us at this point today. I
understand the government House leader will be attending right after
this witness has completed, or as soon thereafter as he can
logistically be here.
We'll get to our witness, who is Madame Manon Tremblay, an associate
professor of political science at the University of Ottawa.
We usually ask our witnesses to make a submission of approximately 10
minutes, and that's followed by questions and answers from the members
of Parliament. If that is satisfactory, you may commence your
Ms. Manon Tremblay (Full Professor, Director, Centre for Research
on Women and Politics, University of Ottawa): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will try to stay within my allotted 10 minutes. As you know, I'm a
university professor, and we tend to talk a lot.
I want first of all to thank the members of the Standing Committee of
the House of Commons on Procedure and House Affairs for agreeing to
hear me today concerning Bill C-2, An Act Respecting the Election of
Members to the House of Commons.
My presentation will deal with the legitimacy and the importance of
increasing the number of women in politics in Canada and thus of
adopting measures to promote the election of women.
I am speaking today in my capacity as full professor in the
department of political science, and director of the Centre for
Research on Women and Politics at the University of Ottawa.
I shall begin by outlining parliamentary representation of women
worldwide and putting Canada in perspective. Then I shall discuss some
arguments for increasing the number of women in politics and some
possible measures for achieving that objective. Lastly, I shall
comment on the proposal by Caroline St-Hilaire, MP for Longueuil, to
include in the Canada Elections Act a financial incentive for
political parties to elect more women.
The idea I want to defend today is this: Where gender equality is
concerned, Canada must keep pace with its forward-looking Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, and must adopt measures to promote the election
of women to the House of Commons.
One characteristic of international politics in the past 50 years has
been a spread of democracy, in the form of constitutional parliaments.
However, as table 1 shows, this democratization of politics has
largely ignored women. According to a study by the Inter-Parliamentary
Union, on January 1, 1997, women accounted for an average of 11.7% of
members of the lower chambers of approximately 200 parliaments
worldwide. Some will claim that Canada's performance of approximately
20% women MPs is not too bad. However, the world average is brought
down by the inclusion of many countries whose records of respecting
democratic principles have not always been exemplary. In fact,
Canada's performance is mediocre in comparison with those of the
Scandinavian countries, which are genuine world leaders where
representation of women in politics is concerned: Norway's
Storting has nearly achieved gender parity. In other words, the
countries with the highest representations of women in politics are
often democratic leaders.
Women are under-represented in politics. Why should their
representation be higher? It is argued that many communities such as
economically disadvantaged persons, persons living with disabilities,
gay men and lesbian women are also excluded from power, and that
complying with women's demands may well open up a practically endless
list of criteria deserving of parliamentary representation. Women,
however, are not a minority like other groups: they are one of the two
components of the human race, and therefore transcend all social
categories. Furthermore, greater representation for women is simple
justice and equality: since women make up half the population, it is
normal for them to be equally present in the corridors of power. More
women in political institutions will enhance the legitimacy of the
political system. Representative democracies are based on the idea
that no groups must be manifestly excluded from power. The flagrant
inequality of representation between men and women in positions of
power suggests that the present rules of the political game promote
certain profiles at the expense of others. A more diversified
Parliament will also likely help solve the representation crisis that
politics has been experiencing for several years.
I will give you a few strategies, which basically fall into two
categories, of measures for achieving the objective of promoting the
election of women.
First, nationally legislated measures, which is what we are talking
about. The purpose of these measures is to ensure that a certain
proportion of seats won by a political party in an election are held
by women. There are various strategies to achieve this objective.
Second are the measures adopted by political parties. These are
measures voluntarily adopted by political parties in order to
encourage women to run as candidates. The proposal under study sits
halfway between these two main categories.
These are voluntary incentives that improve chances of success. If
political parties have no genuine will to promote the election of
women, however, the proportion of women MPs will not change. This will
must be fostered through government incentives. Canada has a powerful
tool for achieving this objective: the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Caroline St-Hilaire, MP for Longueuil, has proposed that the Canada
Elections Act include a financial incentive for political parties that
elect more women. Under this proposal, a registered political party
would be reimbursed for part of its election expenses if at least 30%
of its elected candidates were women.
This legislative measure, while minimal, would be an initial
incentive encouraging political parties to have women run as
candidates in constituencies where they do have a chance of being
elected. Some will argue that this measure is anti-democratic and
creates inequality between candidates of a given party by making some
candidates more cost-effective than others. However, the purpose of
this temporary measure is merely to correct an actual inequality among
candidates that has always worked against women.
My research shows that some elements in political parties have always
resisted women's entry into politics, arguing that women would be less
competitive candidates than men or that voters would not prefer women
candidates. These arguments are forms of prejudice that do not stand
up to empirical study of the facts.
Others would argue that the only thing that counts is having the
right skills. But what, in fact, are these skills? In today's world,
these skills are based more on the way men are socialized and on their
experiences, rather than on the way women are socialized and on their
Unfortunately, prejudice often wins out over facts. In addition to
education, legislative measures encouraging political parties to
nominate women candidates in constituencies where they do have a
chance of being elected are front-line, if partial, strategies for
increasing the number of women in the House of Commons.
Furthermore, this type of legislative measure is particularly
significant for Canada, since it goes beyond words and reflects a
genuine commitment by the government to gender equality in politics. I
need not remind you that section 15(1) of the Charter sets out the
principle of individuals' equality before the law and their right to
be treated under the law without discrimination.
Section 28 provides that the rights and freedoms set out in the
Charter apply equally to women and men. More interestingly, however,
section 15(2) affirms that affirmative action is compatible with the
principle of individuals' equality before the law. In addition, the
Supreme Court has indicated that the Charter guarantees of equality
were aimed at offsetting disadvantages. Women's low representation in
decision-making bodies suggests that women wishing to run as
candidates are subject to many disadvantages, and research has
repeatedly documented this fact. Thus it is imperative to adopt
measures that promote the election of women and cannot be interpreted
as being anti-democratic or unegalitarian.
Unless the Charter and especially section 15(2) are declared
anti-democratic, these legislative measures are entirely acceptable in
a democratic society. They are also compatible with the principle of
gender equality, at least if that principle is given a nuanced reading
that takes into account the effect of social relationships.
Temporary legislative measures to reestablish gender balance are
often criticized as running counter to gender equality by treating
women and men differently. However, treating everyone in the same way
when they are not all equal in fact is a deceptive ideological game.
Instead, a more nuanced reading of equality—the one that underlies
section 15(2) of the Charter—is that a different, adapted treatment
is required if equality is to be achieved. To do otherwise is to
perpetuate inequality in the guise of equality.
In closing, I can only recommend that the Standing Committee on
Procedure and House Affairs of the House of Commons endorse the
proposal that the Canada Elections Act include a financial incentive
for political parties that elect more women.
This measure—although, I repeat, insufficient—is essential in
promoting the achievement of a Parliament that is more inclusive and
more representative of social diversity.
Thank you for your attention.
The Chair: Thank you.
We'll now move to questions, and we'll start with Mr. White, for five
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.): Thank you.
Ms. Tremblay, are you the person who gets grants from the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council to send questionnaires to MPs
about representation of women in politics?
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Yes, and I am very proud to say that the
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada has
regularly funded my research since my master's degree in 1985. The
fact that I received scholarships is proof of the excellence of my
work since many people vie for that honour.
Mr. Ted White: I've twice written about your grants in the column
I write in my local newspaper. On both occasions when I wrote about
it, I received hundreds of phone calls and letters criticizing it as a
complete waste of money and a self-serving survey that had nothing to
do with the will of voters.
Professor, I'd just to ask you, do you know what sort of electoral
system exists in Norway? You mentioned Norway and the representation
of women there. Do you happen to know what kind of electoral system
Ms. Manon Tremblay: You have asked two questions. I obviously
consider my work as being essential. As to whether my peers agree, let
me remind you that these funds are granted on the basis of merit. I'm
also very proud to say that I am usually in the top 10% of funding
recipients. That's all I have to say on that matter.
The Nordic countries have a proportional electoral system, as well as
a political culture based on the equality of men and women. Canada
could compare its system with theirs and view the Nordic countries as
a model in that regard.
I'll complete my answer by saying that we must discard the idea that
the proportional system will automatically favour women. The
proportional electoral system may help get more women elected,
certainly, but real change will only come if political parties show
the will to get more women elected.
Take the example of Great Britain, which has the same electoral
system as we do. I'm not talking about Scotland, but Great Britain. In
1997, during the last election, the Labour Party, which was elected,
had adopted affirmative action measures within its party, and the
representation of women doubled, going from 9 to nearly 20%. This
happened in a system based on a majority of votes, but only because
the political party wanted to elect more women. In fact, practically
no female Conservative candidates were elected. They were mostly from
the ranks of Labour.
Mr. Ted White: You can argue that the proportional system doesn't
have anything to do with it, but the fact is that all around the world
where there's a proportional element to the electoral system, there's
a much greater representation of women. Frankly, the proportional
element has a much greater impact than anything else you can use an
example. You used the British government example of the Labour Party
going from 9% to 20%. Well, we're already over 20% here, so that's
not a very good example to use.
I would suggest, actually, that you're insulting the voters of this
country with your proposals. You are taking away their freedom of
choice to choose candidates to represent them. at the riding
association level. You've also missed the point of the whole
exercise. We are here to represent our constituents. It doesn't
matter whether it's 100% women here or 100% men. If we're doing our
job properly, then we are representing our constituents properly. I
would put to you that what you want is equality of outcome for an
exercise that should have equality of opportunity.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: I'm sorry, but voters' freedom of choice is an
idea I cannot agree with. Today, it is mostly political parties,
through their nomination process—which is something I could talk
about at length—which run candidates during an election, of whom very
few are women. So the voters don't have a pure choice, since the
political parties have already chosen whom they want to run. That is
precisely why I think change should happen at the party level.
Furthermore, I do not want to go further than what is being proposed.
The nomination process must be changed. We know that there isn't much
happening at the nomination level in Canada these days and that when
there is a nomination meeting, it is usually stacked, as they say,
which means that vote-buying occurs. So our democratic system is based
on vote-buying during the nomination process. I wouldn't say that's
Political representation can be interpreted many ways. My research
has led me to believe that one's body and ideas are not distinct from
As such, your body affects your ideas, since the fact that you are a
man or a woman—I could even say the colour of your skin—is a kind of
filter which affects your interactions with society and the way you
My research has clearly shown that the men and women in the House of
Commons don't support the same issues, particularly when viewed
through a left-right axis, liberalism-conservatism, irrespective of
political affiliation. Generally speaking, men and women have
You have talked about the role of representation, but let me say that
this role of representation can be interpreted many ways.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Ted White: Do I have any time left?
The Chair: No.
Mr. Ted White: Okay, I'll wait until the second round.
The Chair: Sure.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Before asking
Ms. Tremblay a question, let me say, in response to what my colleague
from the Reform Party said, that I was pleased to have to campaign
against two handsome young men in 1993. Based on the election results,
I deducted that the voters of Laval-Centre probably preferred old
ladies to young men. I might also say that I won the nomination
against men. It was a hard fight, and given our discussion, I am
pleased to share this with my colleague.
That being said, let me come back to Laval, that extraordinary place
where three female MPs were elected, two for the Bloc Québécois and
one for the Liberal Party.
Before the last election in 1997, the Prime Minister of Canada
exercised his right—the right of every party leader, some of whom
exercise it more than others—to name female candidates. This was the
case in Laval, where three female candidates ran, which is a good
thing. One of these women won in a sure riding, and I can say this
because it's public knowledge. If you run women candidates in sure
ridings, that's one way to get them elected.
Of course, you can also implement financial incentives which, and I
agree with you on that point, should only be temporary. I would like
to know whether you think Canada, which is a very diverse country with
many points of view, should eventually have a proportional system to
increase female representation in politics.
I would also like to know what you think of the following. It is
extremely difficult to find women who want to run for public office. I
don't think it is because we are lazy or not articulate, but I wonder
whether the fact that politicians are not held in high esteem deters
very competent and educated women who earn a good living and are
recognized in their profession from entering politics. It's a long
question, but it's my only one.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: You asked two questions.
The argument made most frequently against proportional representation
is probably government instability. As for Canada, some people have
also argued that a proportional system would divide the country, as
opposed to the first-past-the-post system which unites it. Since 1993,
this argument does not hold water anymore since fortress Canada has
crumbled into many pieces.
I personally am in favour of a combined system like the one recently
created in Scotland. On the one hand, you would keep the
first-past-the-post system, and on the other, there would be a second
chamber of proportional representation. This system would let us
maintain our historical traditions, but it would also allow us to
correct the current imbalance between the percentage of the vote and
the number of seats.
As I was saying a few moments ago, a purely proportional system does
not guarantee the participation of a large number of women. Consider
Israel, for example. So a proportional system is not a guarantee.
However, there is a mechanism that would ensure 50-50 representation
in a proportional system, and we call this mechanism the zipping
system. Some political parties in the world have suggested alternating
between a man and a woman, a man and a woman, and so on, or a woman
and a man, on a closed list, a list on which you cannot change the
order of names. If four members from that party are elected in a given
constituency, there will have to be two men and two women.
With regard to the proportional system, I will stop there, but I must
point out to you that we don't have to look very far for examples.
Look at the proposal made by the Nunavut Implementation Commission,
which was to have dual-member constituencies—one man and one
woman—within a first-past-the-post system.
So there are a number of mechanisms that are entirely available to
us. It is now up to us to consider them. That, of course, is another
How do we encourage women to go into politics? That's an interesting
question. As all opinion polls show, we live in an age that is less
and less favourable toward political governance: social criticism,
cynicism and so on and so forth. In the conclusion of my last book,
Des femmes au Parlement, I suggested that citizenship courses be
given very early on, perhaps even in primary school or in early high
school to encourage young people to take an interest in public life.
These days, we have the impression that people take very little
interest in public life. We must get them interested in public life.
Some political parties are working extremely hard to organize
workshops and training sessions. I'm thinking particularly of the New
Democratic Party, which pays for child care during the nomination
process. That's an interesting initiative.
There are all kinds of possibilities out there that should be looked
at. It isn't necessary to move heaven and earth, because these
possibilities are relatively accessible. But first and foremost, there
is one fundamental ingredient: political parties' desire to increase
the number of women. If that isn't there, there is no point in trying
to increase the number of women. Political leaders have to be
convinced of the importance of increasing the number of women and
having governance that is more balanced than it currently is in terms
The Chair: Mr. Solomon.
Mr. John Solomon (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, NDP): Thank you
I represent the New Democratic Party, and I come from Saskatchewan.
Both our provincial section of the party and our federal party have
incentives to encourage and recruit female candidates, and it has
worked fairly well. Our federal caucus has 40% of the female members
of Parliament, and I think that's a good step in the right direction.
We find, however, that the funds that we support for nomination
expenses, for family care and for election purposes, don't seem to
encourage as many women as we'd like to seek nominations—and I
appreciate your comments about that earlier.
What specific incentives would you suggest we could consider in this
Elections Act that would encourage more women to seek nominations?
Ms. Manon Tremblay: In response to that question, I'm going to
repeat part of the answer that I gave previously to Ms.
There are several possibilities. In particular, I know that the New
Democratic Party actually has committees to find female candidates.
That initiative could be expanded. Parties could also have permanent
lists of potential female candidates.
You realize that people do not run for office overnight. To get into
politics, you have to have a network. Many women have told me, “Yes,
they came looking for me, but the organization was not behind me”. A
few moments ago I mentioned education and training workshops for
women. I would say that men also need to be educated within the
political parties. We need to make some of them, not all of them, but
some, more aware of the importance of having a political governance
that is more balanced and more diversified in terms of gender.
Mr. John Solomon: What I was getting at, Mademoiselle Tremblay,
was the financial incentives. Do you think there should be taxpayers'
dollars involved in funding parties that achieve certain levels of
women candidates in their rosters for federal elections? What levels
would they be? For example, a party now receives a 22.5% rebate on
general election expenses. If there were a threshold, say, of 30% of
the candidates being female and a graduated scale up to 50%, would you
increase that rebate to the parties based on that? Or would there be
some other kind of schedule whereby you would cover family care costs,
whether they're for a child, a sibling, or a parent?
Ms. Manon Tremblay: I would say that there are two movements here.
On the one hand, there are State policies that operate through the
refund provided under the Elections Act, and perhaps tax breaks as
well. I think it would be more difficult to convince the public to
agree to tax breaks for individuals.
Why not use an agency such as Status of Women Canada, for example, to
establish programs? Besides, that sort of thing does exist. It has
been done in Quebec. The Quebec government funds a program that offers
leadership sessions. They are paid for by the government, and are
organised by Quebec's Council on the Status of Women, I believe,
although I may be wrong. I'm not sure whether it's the Council on the
Status of Women that organises the sessions, but there are leadership
programs funded by the government. That's the first movement.
As for the second movement, I'll go back to a recommendation that
emerged from the Lortie Commission. It was Janine Brodie who made the
recommendation in her study published in volume VI of the Lortie
Commission Report. She said that the problem was at the nomination
level. Winning a nomination can be a very expensive proposition. Her
recommendation was to limit the amount of money spent to win a
nomination. If my memory serves me, she recommended a $5,000 limit.
That would immediately increase the number of women who could run for
Mr. John Solomon: I have just one final comment, if I may, Mr.
I have recruited candidates provincially and federally for the last
26 years now. The biggest problem we have in politics is that the job
is not one that many women are attracted to.
Secondly, women who do have children at home very rarely want to seek
a federal position, in particular coming from out west, because it
takes us around seven hours to get here and seven hours to get home,
or maybe more for rural ridings. All of the terrific potential
members of Parliament I've recruited who never agreed to seek a
nomination had these reasons of family and travel. Who wants to be
travelling all the time? Who wants to go to Ottawa? Ottawa is not
the most dynamic place in the world to live. I know that shocks a lot
of Ottawa MPs, but there are other parts of the country that people
really would prefer to live in.
So there's a whole host of problems, and I'm not sure whether any
financial incentives are going to cut it. Maybe we have to look at a
whole new approach to this, whether it's having a special series of
nannies in Ottawa to look after and support families, or care-givers
in the riding, or counselling for the male partners of the
relationship as to how they can handle this new lifestyle and
encourage their partner to run. It's a really complex problem.
I'm here at this table because two very high-quality women candidates
who I tried to persuade to run for my constituency wouldn't. I put my
organization's support behind them. There was no money problem,
because we put the money up and we gave them the organization's
support. I basically guaranteed them a nomination, and they said,
“No, we just don't want to do this.” So that's one of the many
reasons I'm here.
I don't know if you want to comment on that. It's really a terrible
challenge. It's a difficult challenge for us to try to get more women
to seek nominations for our party, and maybe for others as well.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: I have three comments to make in response to
your last remark.
When I do my research, I really enjoy asking male and female
politicians questions. I remember, one day a female politician said to
me, “You know, the problem for women in politics is that they don't
have a wife at home.” It's incredible how remarks like that are
imprinted in your mind. I never forgot that one.
Secondly, and I'd like to stress this point, this suggestion is one
of many. I agree with you that we must ask ourselves whether it's
sufficient or whether we shouldn't consider other strategies. There is
nothing keeping us from looking at other strategies. This is not a
negative strategy, but as I said in my presentation, it certainly is
not enough, it certainly is a minimum, and it should be combined with
Third, in the conclusion of my last book, Des femmes au
Parlement, I suggested that male and female politicians with young
children at home receive some kind of subsidy to help them make up for
their absence or carry out their family responsibilities. We know full
well that when a father is in Ottawa for five days, in practical
terms, it means a lot more work for the other person. Not only does it
mean more work, but often it means the other person's career suffers,
which is something you can't attach a dollar figure to.
I would actually suggest some kind of fringe benefit for
parliamentarians. Their employee benefits would include these
subsidies, which of course would be palliative measures, probably
insufficient, but at least they would help us reach a broader
I realize that the public would not look favourably upon this
measure, but I would justify it by pointing out that no matter what
people may say, politicians devote a part of their life to serving
their country and as a result, should be entitled to this form of
compensation for the negative impact of politics on their private
Mr. John Solomon: Thank you.
The Chair: Mr. Solomon, your chair always did want to hear your
excuse for being here in Ottawa, for getting elected.
Mr. John Solomon: It's one of my excuses.
The Chair: But you did end your remarks by saying you would make a
short comment, and then you expanded your short comment into a long
comment and then invited a response.
Mr. John Solomon: You're very cooperative, Mr. Chair, and I really
The Chair: I'm too cooperative. I'm getting lots of eyes from
I'm going to go to Mr. Richardson for five and then Mr. Harvey for
Mr. John Richardson (Perth—Middlesex, Lib.): Mademoiselle
Tremblay, please accept my thanks for your coming here today and
presenting before us.
The interesting thing about women in politics has been pretty widely
discussed over at least the last 25 years. When I went to Ottawa
University, they didn't even think about it.
I can only say this. If there's a shortfall here, there is a growth
in municipal politics, where women can involve themselves in the
community and at the community level as either alderwomen or mayors,
and they make a contribution there, or they can sit on the hospital
board as a chairperson or the school board as a chairperson or a
trustee. They probably find meaning in that kind of instant
gratification or instant feeling of insufficiency when things don't go
right; there's that comfort level of being close to home in
undertaking municipal politics.
In provinces that don't have a large land mass, such as Prince Edward
Island to some degree, it's probably similar. It would meet that
criteria. Many other provinces wouldn't because of their size.
I feel they want to give their time and their personal knowledge,
background, and skills to their communities. It happens to be at a
community that's close to them. I often equate that. It is that home
base, close to home. The family is there.
When you come to Ottawa, it's a long walk here and it's a long walk
back. I know Mr. Solomon takes seven hours. I live in Stratford,
Ontario. I can't make it in less than six and I drive a car back and
I just think this lack of moving from the home into the provincial
and federal levels could be a territorial thing, and time—and the
territorial is pressing the time on the person to give up travelling
back and forth.
I personally would like to see more women because I'm often impressed
with the contribution the women I work with make. But I'd throw out
the territorial imperative kind of thing that came out of The Naked
Ape years ago. You could say I'm on the wrong track here. This is
my own experience I'm reiterating here.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Mr. Richardson, I don't know whether you are
mistaken, but I will tell you how I read the situation.
First of all, I don't know whether this is the case in the other
provinces, but in Quebec, 10% of all mayors are women at the current
time, and 20% of the members of the National Assembly are women.
Actually, 25% of the members of the National Assembly are women, and
20% of Quebec's members of Parliament are women.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Twenty-
Ms. Manon Tremblay: So, this idea we often hear that women are
more attracted by municipal politics does not stand up to a
statistical analysis. On a proportional basis, the number of female
mayors does not exceed the number of women who are members of the
legislative assembly or members of Parliament. Actually, there are
fewer female mayors in Quebec; 10%, whereas 20% of the members of the
National Assembly and Quebec members of Parliament are women.
Secondly, American studies—I would really like to do such a study
some day—do not show a link between the proximity of the constituency
and the election of women to Parliament.
Let's look at the question from a different angle. If we follow your
logic, we would expect to see more women representing constituencies
surrounding Parliament or we could expect to see more women
representing the constituencies around Ottawa. That's not the case.
Third, I'm really not sure of this, but let's suppose that women are
more interested in social issues, community issues and so on. That may
be the case. These are themes that they can deal with both in Ottawa
and at the provincial level.
I must say that I'm not convinced.
Mr. John Richardson: I don't have any stats or studies of it, just
observations, particularly in my area.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: I would just add that intuitive observation of
facts is absolutely fundamental; it is the starting point for
research. Research stems from an intuitive observation of facts. So
your observations are extremely important.
Mr. John Richardson: I quite agree.
The Chair: Mr. Harvey.
Mr. André Harvey (Chicoutimi, PC): I would like to congratulate
Ms. Tremblay on her research. I'm sure that the granting councils
helped her with her research because the work deserved support. So I
would like to congratulate her.
As for the issue of women in politics, I have the impression that
we've entered the world of Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Chairman. I look
around and I see my colleagues, Ms. Parrish, Ms. Catterall, Ms.
Dalphond-Guiral. We are all human beings. Why are we trying so hard,
from a mathematical and a financial point of view, to force women to
increase participation quotas in a particular area, be it politics or
another? I have the impression that this is an artificial constraint.
I listened carefully to my colleagues' remarks. I found them to be
artificial. Individuals have to make choices. I think it's unhealthy
to attempt in a very discretionary way to encourage women to enter one
particular field of endeavour rather than another. I have many female
friends who work in all kinds of areas, in all the professions; that's
a personal choice.
You talked about nominations. I have run for office many times at
various levels. Winning the nomination is a challenge that both sexes
are able to take on. On the other hand, it's a challenge that you have
to choose without regard to the financial considerations.
I just have one little question for you. Mr. Chairman, you talked
about buying votes during nominations. I would like to hear more
details about that. I would like Ms. Tremblay to tell us what that
means during a nomination meeting.
For example, politically speaking, when an association has 1,500
paid-up members, people don't buy memberships. You just have to
motivate people to get out and vote. That's what I understand, unless
things are going on that I've never seen. That could happen. You can't
see everything in life. People vote for the candidate of their choice,
the votes are counted and it's all over. Then the person runs in the
I would like you to provide some explanations about buying votes. I
have not seen that happen often. In any event, I have not seen that
kind of thing often in Chicoutimi. We compete to sell memberships
before the nomination meetings. After that, we try to get the vote
out, and then we assume our responsibilities; we win or we lose. We
don't buy votes.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: I have many things to say in response to the
preamble to your questions. In particular, you said that both sexes
could win nominations. I'm not so sure of that.
As well, you said something about forcing.... I don't think I used the
word “quota” up until now in my presentation. You argued that people
are absolutely free to make their choices within society. I'm not so
sure of that. Insofar as women and men are still socialized
differently, I'm not so sure....
Mr. André Harvey: I don't understand. Could you tell me what you
meant by those last remarks?
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Simply put, women and men are not socialized
in the same manner. Just recently, I was reading a report about the
presence of women in non-traditional occupations, the occupations that
usually are the better paid. I can assure you that reading a report
such as that one does not encourage many women to opt for those
As for the issue of choice, I maintain that choices are not
absolutely free within the context of a society that socializes its
individuals. Certainly, we are all human beings, but these human
beings are socialized in different ways.
Let me remind you of a famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir, “One is
not born a woman, one becomes one.” That saying made her famous, just
as Sartre became famous thanks to his saying, “Hell is other
people.” I think that still holds true. There have been a tremendous
number of changes over the past few years, but men and women are still
socialized differently. We mustn't deny that changes have occurred,
but look at all the figures.
Just last week, I was looking at some figures about women's access to
university. Women are not in areas such as computer science,
mathematics, the pure sciences. They are not present in the areas of
the future. I admit that women are more present than they were in days
gone by, but they certainly aren't there to take up the challenges of
As for buying votes, you said that before a nomination meeting, you
had to move quickly and sell membership cards. What I've heard along
these lines has been: "Listen..."
Mr. André Harvey: I said that you had to sell cards.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Yes, you have to sell cards.
Mr. André Harvey: There are deadlines.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Of course, and the standards vary a great deal
from political party to party. Some parties allow you to sell
membership cards almost up to the night before the meeting, and that's
what I was referring to. I am not the first person to say these
things. In particular, look at the work done by professor Carty in
British Columbia, who has done a great deal of work on the whole issue
of nominations. He too has raised many issues about the democratic
nature of nomination campaigns.
That being said, we have to be careful. It's just like statistics. We
probably need to move beyond individual cases and look at
generalities. I am not questioning the nomination of each and every
person; I'm speaking generally. Some university researchers have
questioned the process used to select candidates. That's what I meant.
Mr. André Harvey: Thank you.
The Chair: I'll go to Ms. Parrish and then Mr. White.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish (Mississauga Centre, Lib.): I'm going to leave
the realm of philosophy and get back into the trenches.
I absolutely agree with you that the nomination processes that are
strictly controlled by parties are unique, to say the least.
What I want to get at is this. My understanding from most political
scientists is that 90% of your vote is based on your party, your
leader, and so forth. So if you go back and say, “Okay, how do we
get the candidate?”, which is the nomination process you're talking
about, that's where being able to collect money makes a difference.
My nomination had 15,500 Liberals signed up, and it cost me $42,000.
Let's say no one bought any memberships in that whole thing—no one
bought votes, no one bought memberships—you still had to do three
mailings, you had to explain how a preferential ballot worked, you had
to have refreshments for your workers. It was a very, very expensive
Of that $42,000, I would guess $37,000 was my family funds. Had I
been one of my opponents, male, connected to all kinds of professional
organizations, and so forth, I think I would have been spending other
Let's go back to the concept. It's really starting to wear on me,
this idea of giving people a bonus for getting more women elected.
That's not going to fix the problem. I think the problem lies with
the nominations. I guess I just want you to confirm that. I would
like you to give me your studied opinion, if you disagree with me, on
how we fix that particular problem.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Ms. Parrish, I agree with you
completely. Let me reiterate what I told Mr. Solomon a few moments
ago. This is just one of many possibilities. I would say that your
case bears witness to what my studies demonstrate: the problem is with
the nominations, which is why Professor Brodie recommended to the
Lortie Commission that nomination expenditures be limited to $5,000.
You said you spent $37,000 on your bid for the nomination. How many
Canadian women can afford that? Of course, you could ask me, "How many
men can afford that?"
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: I couldn't afford it.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Of course.
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: The longer I'm married, the bigger the
mortgage on my house gets. I'm surprised my husband stays with me.
After 32 years I can't train a new one.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: We might also wonder how many men can afford
that, although from a statistical point of view, men are richer than
women. I'm not saying that each individual man is richer than each
individual woman. What I'm saying is that from a statistical point of
view, men tend to have more money than women. Women are more likely to
be poor, are less likely to have that money for the nomination, to
build a network, to win party loyalties, if you prefer. If you don't
like the expression “buy votes” we could say, “build loyalty.”
Ms. Carolyn Parrish: I'd like to add for Mr. Harvey that if I came
to your door and sold you a membership—I sold 3,800—I think there's
a moral obligation for you to vote for me when you go to the
convention. So I think this concept of vote buying isn't vote buying;
it's membership subsidization, if some people do it—I don't think any
Liberals do that.
I think in these cases, when the money gets big and the numbers get
big, the well-connected people, whether.... I was in municipal
politics, so I had a good following, but people who are right out of
the household or right out of a very simple profession do not have
access to the backing that people who have spent a lot of time in the
business world have.
You said $5,000. We have limits set per riding of x number of
dollars, depending on the electors in the riding. If, as some women
in the Liberal Party are suggesting—you said a 15% limit—15% of the
eligible expenses of an election could be for a nomination, do you
agree that would be fair?
Ms. Manon Tremblay: I'd say the situation would certainly be
better than the present one. I'm not saying that the situation would
be ideal, but that the conditions for running for a nomination,
because that's what we're talking about, would certainly be brought
back to more modest proportions and thus be accessible to all.
The Chair: Madam Tremblay, I just thought I'd bootleg on an issue.
It is clear some colleagues in the House of Commons—maybe many
colleagues in the House of Commons, we're not sure—would like to put
measures in place to advance and increase the representation of women
in the House of Commons. I don't have a particular problem with that.
We're trying to turn something around that has existed for 5,000
We seem to be heading in the right direction. Some MPs would like to
put in place laws that would give a preference to female candidacies,
at some point in the electoral system. Our laws normally would not
let us do that. They would not normally let us favour a gender.
Our Constitution would permit us to do that if women, or one of the
genders, were disadvantaged. Throughout these hearings I have
personally been looking for an articulation, a listing, of some of
those disadvantages. A disadvantage is not the same thing as being
under-represented. Women are under-represented on the Montreal
Canadiens hockey team; I'm not so sure they're disadvantaged. Men may
arguably be under-represented in the nursing profession; I'm not so
sure the men are disadvantaged.
You touched on one of the possible disadvantages when you were
talking about the financial resources of women. But do you have a
short list of disadvantages in Canadian society that would better
describe the disadvantaged condition of Canadian women, for our
purposes here and for the public record? I think we need that. If we
do anything on the subject, we'd like to have something on the record.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Your question refers to chapter 1 of the book
I published in 1995 called Que font-elles en politique? I had
the great pleasure of questioning Quebec MNAs and Ottawa MPs. I'll
summarize, for the information of the members of this committee, the
three major obstacles confronting women.
First, you have those obstacles deemed to be structural in nature
which have to do with socialization. As I was mentioning before, women
and men are still socialized in different ways. I'm not saying that's
negative as such, except that at the present time, women's
socialization does not encourage them—although I must soften this by
saying that they're certainly encouraged more than they used to be—to
see politics as something possible for them. So there are structural
obstacles, socialization problems.
Second, there are situational obstacles. Here we mean the roles
apportioned out according to sex. Once again, things have changed
during the last years, but it would seem, as all statistics show,
including those from Statistics Canada, that it is still the women who
have the main responsibility for the children and, if I may say so,
for managing daily family life. A woman who wants to get into politics
has to build up a network and get involved with a political party. If
she has a family and work outside the home, being active in a party
definitely means a third day's work for her.
Finally, there are very major obstacles that are deemed to be systemic
and that have to do with the political system as such. First of all,
you have the obstacles set up by the rules of the electoral process.
I've already said this, but I'll repeat that in our political system,
what really counts is first and foremost the will of the parties. The
characteristic of our single constituency electoral system means that
only one person bearing the colours of a given political party runs in
a riding. There is only one and not four or five as is the case in
some kinds of proportional systems.
As my research clearly shows, the local political elites have a
certain model in mind as a winning candidate. That's the one the
British studies, especially those done by Pippa Norris and Joni
Lovenduski, identify as the homo politicus, in other words the
quite informal model presented as being neutral of the winning
candidate. If you want to understand the characteristics of this
homo politicus you only have to look to this House.
Even though I've just spoken about our electoral system, I was also,
of course, alluding to our political parties. Before I emphasized the
importance of having workshops and offering training to women
interested in getting into politics. You could call them leadership
workshops. I'm still convinced that this has to be done at the same
time as we are educating those who presently sit in our parliaments
and take up most of the seats as well as those who have the power in
the political parties, at the riding level, where the candidates are
Many women who have answered my questionnaires or my questions during
interviews told me they heard absolutely unbelievable things uttered
by certain political elites. So there's still certainly something to
be done at that level.
There are other obstacles although they are probably not very
relevant in Canada's case especially the ones having to do with the
length of election warrants. As you know, in the US, certain elected
officials can remain in their position almost ad vitam eternam.
When you limit the length of the warrant, of course we free up
positions and allow new people to come in. I was recently reading that
the results of this strategy weren't as conclusive as they were
believed to be 10 years ago, but it still remains that it is an
In short, there are obstacles having to do with socialization,
obstacles having to do with the social roles of the sexes and
systemic-type obstacles, because of our electoral system, especially
because of its single-constituency characteristic and the dynamics
within the political parties as such.
The Chair: Thank you very much. It was almost like a mini
condensed lecture—Political Science 201. But thank you very much.
Mr. White for five minutes.
Mr. Ted White: Thank you.
Ms. Tremblay, continuing on from where we were, notwithstanding the
fact you've written some books and by my calculation received at least
$270,000 from taxpayers for your surveys, I don't think you've
adequately identified the complexity of the situation.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Mr. Chairman....
Some Hon. Members: Oh! oh!
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: That is awful!
The Chair: I'm going to let Mr. White continue. Ms. Tremblay is a
university professor. She is used to the to and fro on the campus,
and I'm sure she's able to handle tough questions.
We have to keep it from being at all personal, but carry on, Mr.
Mr. Ted White: Thank you.
I think accountability is entirely appropriate for discussion here.
In terms of the complexity of the situation, you mentioned
relationships, for example. You used the line “the problem for a
women is that there's no woman at home”.
I would like to start by putting something on the record that's
important. It relates to the rest of my comments here.
I sold a successful business and my wife and I retired, four years
prior to my becoming an MP. My wife said she didn't enjoy being at
home and wanted to go out to work, and so she did. For those four
years, I cooked and cleaned and did all the housework. Every night my
wife came home to a menu on the table. So I'm certainly used to
working in the other role as well.
When I became a member of Parliament, my wife began working in my
office. She's not paid and hasn't been paid for six years, but she's
there every day. She thoroughly enjoys that role. Neither of us has
ever felt unloved or unwanted, but we've had a really good
relationship. So I think one of the most complex issues that should
be discussed is relationships.
We had a witness here the other night who said she couldn't run
because her husband never supported her. That is a problem for both
The second issue is the nomination process, and there has been some
discussion of that. You gave a fairly sweeping condemnation of the
process. I have to put on the record, so you can consider it in your
other recommendations, that the Reform nomination process cannot be
interfered with by the leader of the party. The constitution of the
Reform Party says specifically the leader may not appoint candidates.
They have to be selected by the riding association, and the leader may
not refuse to sign the nomination papers.
All of the nomination meetings I've been to in the Vancouver area
have had at least five people running, and it's a big competition;
it's difficult. So the women who achieved the goal of becoming
candidates and entered our caucus here in Ottawa got here fair and
square and won the fight.
The third issue is family commitments. I've heard you say women have
the disadvantage of having to stay at home and look after the family.
Well, that's not a disadvantage; it should be a joy for women to have
the ability to stay home and look after their families. It's a matter
of choice. If a woman feels her children are a disadvantage in her
life, I think there's another problem with relationships there.
On the urban-rural effect, I wonder if you've studied that. It is a
fact that if you look at the women who have been elected to this
place, more were elected in urban ridings than in rural ridings.
There has to be a good reason for that, but I don't know what the
reason is. Maybe you can enlighten me; you may have done some study.
Finally, I believe the electoral system is the single biggest
influencing factor. You kind of discounted it there, but if you look
at the countries you can use as examples, they tend to be much
smaller. Some of them have higher population densities, but they tend
to have a proportional element. That definitely produces more women
in the representation.
I think this financial tinkering with the system around the edges
won't work. I believe the single biggest factor is an overhaul of the
electoral system itself.
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Thank you. I've noted eight points.
First of all, I'd like to thank Mr. White for having totalled up the
grants I've received. I must admit that I've never done that and I can
see that I've received over a quarter of a million dollars for my
research. I'm probably one of the most highly subsidized women
professors in my area and the reason is probably the excellence of my
Second, I'd like to point out to the member that I'm not the one who
said that the problem of women in politics was that they didn't have a
wife at home. It's a woman member who told me this and I quoted it
here because I found it crystallized and summarized the problem quite
magnificently. That's the only reason I quoted it here.
Third, I insist it is necessary we not personalize the debate. Your
reaction is much like that of my male students and a lot of my female
students when I have the pleasure of giving my course “Women and
politics”. They say: “Oh, my boyfriend and I or my girlfriend and I
have reached a fantastic balance between us.” I can only say bravo.
Bravo, if that's the case for you, but statistically, that doesn't
seem to be the case. The sharing doesn't seem to be that harmonious,
at least based on statistics.
You have pointed out the problem of spousal support. You're right to
say that some men entering politics don't have their spouse's support.
But once again, my studies have allowed me to demonstrate that a man
can enter politics without the support of his spouse. Of course, it
will be hard for him but in the case of a woman, it becomes totally
hellish. Once again, of course, I'm going by the testimony I have
heard. I have never been in politics. I don't engage in politics
unless it's at the university level, sometimes, but that's the only
place. Otherwise, I don't get involved in politics.
I have read the Reform Party's own rules on nominations just as I've
read those of all the other political parties for the research I'm
engaged in now with a view to publishing a book which should appear by
the middle of next year. In it, you will find an analysis of the
nominations for the 1997 elections. If I'm not
mistaken—unfortunately, I don't remember which clause this is—the
Elections Act authorizes the head of a political party to refuse any
candidate chosen during a nomination. That's in the Elections Act;
it's not in the party's own rules.
Of course, within a party, you can have a rule to that effect but
ultimately, the Elections Act authorizes the head of a party to not
endorse a nominated candidate. That is found in the Elections Act.
That doesn't mean there is no internal rule going against this measure
within political parties. Are we agreed?
As I was saying about point 3, the debate must not be personalized.
It's a dusty piece of criticism you sometimes hear that some ideas
associated with the women's movement are supposedly unfair and are
used to belittle women who remain at home. I am absolutely not
questioning that role. As for the very many women who find this role
gratifying, I can only feel happy for them.
You also stated that more women were elected in rural ridings than in
urban ridings. Now, this would justify another study because all the
studies to date show that women, on the contrary, are more often
elected in urban ridings more particularly because of the cosmopolitan
make-up of the urban environment. Ideas going around in an urban
environment are more open-minded than in a rural one. I'm not the one
who says this. All the studies on political culture state it.
Before, in my answer to one of the questions, more specifically to
that of the lady member, it seems to me I insisted on the limits of
the proportional system. If I wasn't clear, I'd like to repeat this.
The proportional system does not guarantee women will be elected. In
my humble opinion, what I take to be the major or primary ingredient
is the will of the political parties to increase the women in their
ranks. That said, the electoral system can certainly help, on certain
The Chair: Monsieur Bergeron, did you want to ask questions?
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Yes, of course.
Ms. Tremblay, thank you very much for having accepted to appear
before this committee to share your experience with us and my
congratulations for having remained so calm. I will try to take
inspiration from your attitude because I would have found it very
difficult to remain as calm in the face of such sneaky and
inappropriate attacks in the context of a committee meeting.
We call upon witnesses to appear before us to gain inspiration from
their experience and their suggestions. I think it's quite
inappropriate to act in such an odious and insulting manner as was
done a few minutes ago. I apologize to you in the name of the
committee for what went on a few moments ago.
A number of propositions were put forth. There seems to be some
openness on the government side to take steps to favour the entry of
women in politics. I would immediately like to add to what my
colleague Harvey was saying a few moments ago. He said that it was to
force women to enter politics. I must reiterate that it's not to force
women to enter politics, but rather to facilitate, to favour and to
encourage women to enter politics.
The objections we're always served are slightly silly or fallacious
comparisons, in my opinion, to situations that prevail in other
professions. Someone brought up the hockey players or the Canadians
team or the kindergarten teachers to illustrate the categories or jobs
not traditionally reserved for men or not traditionally reserved for
A few days ago, I was telling this committee that, fundamentally, you
had to be blind not to recognize that the social and political
structures we're living in today were conceived by and for men over
previous centuries. They are patriarchal structures.
We can't expect these structures to change by themselves. Ultimately,
it's the women elected as heads of State that will proceed with the
legislative changes necessary to favour the appearance of men in jobs
traditionally reserved for women and the introduction of women in jobs
traditionally reserved for men, it being understood that, generally,
the jobs traditionally reserved for women are less well paid than the
jobs traditionally reserved for men.
That's it. I'll get back to the fundamental object of the proposal
that is being submitted to us although your presentation today did
lead me to think about a certain number of other things. Right now,
we're examining the Elections Act, but one day we'll have to see
whether other legislation shouldn't be amended. I presume that the
presence of women in this House could facilitate amending legislation
to allow a certain number of changes favourable to the cause of women,
especially the Parliament Act to authorize a special allowance for
parliamentarians with young children.
To get back to the fundamental subject of our debate, the proposals
we have before us, you were saying that these were minimum measures. I
imagine that's what you mean when you talk about giving financial
incentives to political parties encouraging women to enter politics.
You can be sure that if we were to do such a thing someday, the Reform
Party would change its constitution so as to also allow women to enter
We talked about the choice offered the voters. To hear certain
witnesses, we should leave it up to the electors to decide which
candidate, man or woman, will eventually be their representative in
the House of Commons or the National Assembly.
Coming back to a point raised not so long ago by my colleague André
Harvey, studies prove that ultimately, the candidate, man or woman,
has little to do with the elector's choice. In fact, it's essentially
the political party itself, the leader, the ideas or the broad ideals
defended by the political party that will determine the choice of the
elector, whether man or woman. In consequence, we must ensure that the
person carrying the colours of the political party can eliminate a
certain number of distortions.
In that context, one of our witnesses asked us why we didn't give a
financial incentive to the woman candidate rather than to the
political party. Is the answer not that if we want the political
parties to choose women as their standard bearers in those ridings
they consider to be won in advance, we should be giving the political
parties those incentives rather than to the women themselves? I would
invite you to elaborate on that.
I'll open a parenthesis in closing, Mr. Chairman. Any progressive
country funds research to ensure its future. The kind of comment we
heard before according to which researchers get too much in the way of
grants, seems totally inappropriate coming from a political party
which intends one day to form the government and lead Canada to
compete with this modern world we are confronted with. Thank you very
Ms. Manon Tremblay: Thank you, sir.
Why not give this amount of money to the women candidates rather than
the parties? I see a simple reason: it's that our goal is to improve
democracy. To give this money directly to the candidates seems a
problem in terms of conflict of interests. Whether we like it or not,
the fact is that you are elected in the name of the party and it is up
to the parties, according to my logic, to place women.... I withdraw
the word “place” because then you'll tell me that I'm talking about
parachuting candidates. I simply mean that those ridings that are
considered to be a sure thing should be apportioned equally between
women and men candidates.
As the logic of our electoral system is based on parties, I think the
parties should receive this money, not the candidates.
The Chair: That's good.
I want to thank our witness very much. We've had the luxury of a
relatively focused hour and a half with one witness who is quite
expert on the subject area she has spoken on, and we've had an
opportunity to exhaust the questions on the issues from several
perspectives. It's been very helpful, not just for this exercise but
for the record of the proceedings, in case someone else would like to
review these later. So I want to thank the witness very much.
We can now move to our next witness, if that is the will of
Thank you, Madame Tremblay.
The chair will suspend for about thirty seconds while the minister
takes his place.
The Chair: We'll continue with our meeting.
We have now the minister, the honourable government House leader,
I think, Mr. Boudria, you wish to open with a statement.
I just want to point out to colleagues that we'll allow for about 45
minutes. We'll see as we go through it, but the chair would tend to
be stricter than normal with the five minutes. We all know what the
score is here now. There's no need for long preambles to questions,
or there shouldn't be.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: We never do that.
Voices: Oh, oh!
The Chair: Let the record show laughter.
Mr. Minister, I'd invite you to make your opening remarks.
Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm very pleased to be back before
the committee. This is my third visit. I don't know if this is a
record in terms of ministers speaking on their own bills, but it must
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: It's because we like you.
Mr. Don Boudria: I'm pleased to have done it. And I want to thank
members for their patience in dealing with obviously a very elaborate
bill. I know you've done lots of work. It's taken you quite a while
to do it, understandably, and I thank you for having done that.
You will also allow me to congratulate you for the witness you chose
to hear a bit earlier today. A few days ago, I had the pleasure of
being introduced to a class taught by Professor Tremblay and I was
Since our last meeting, Mr. Chairman, I have been on a cross- Canada
tour of a number of universities and I've also had meetings with
several people from the media who made rather interesting comments.
I would like, Mr. Chair, to follow up on some of the issues that were
raised before this committee since my last appearance on November 3,
and afterward I'd be pleased to respond to questions. I even have the
genesis of the amendments that I am offering to the committee, though
not all of them. I'm still working on one, which I hope will
accommodate a request Mr. Solomon made. We've been able to address
many of the comments that were made by the chair and others around the
table, in terms of lack of clarity of a particular clause.
I've also been able to address an issue that was brought to my
attention by the media, and for that I want to thank particularly
Madame Barbara Yaffe from Vancouver, who brought an issue to my
attention. I'll discuss it in a minute.
You will all know that many consultations were held prior to the bill
being introduced on June 7 and the subsequent reintroduction on June
14. In the consultations I had subsequently, I was able to get
further information and further opinion, particularly of the print
media, regarding the blackout provision.
We all know that particularly in western Canada, but elsewhere too,
people feel very strongly that when they go to vote on election day,
the results of the vote in the rest of the country should not be known
to them. This has historically been very important.
A private member's bill generated by a former MP from Vancouver made
it such that we have uniform, or close to uniform, voting hours right
across the country in Canada in order to ensure that previous leaks of
that information don't occur to the extent they occurred before. So
that was seen as something very important, principally to western
Canadians, but I believe to all Canadians too. In other words, when
they vote, they should go to the poll pure, as it were, not tainted by
the results that have already come in from another part of the
We have a provision in the bill for a 48-hour blackout on polls,
advertising by parties, advertising by third parties, and advertising
by candidates. What I'm going to offer to the committee as an
amendment is this. I've discussed this informally with some members
around the table over the last couple of days, and I discussed it as
well with the Canadian Newspaper Association last night and sought
their input. I'd like to offer to the committee that a shorter
blackout period of 24 hours instead of 48 would achieve probably all
of the same goals, or most of them in any case.
In other words, instead of having a blackout start effectively late
Saturday night, it would start late Sunday night. It would permit,
particularly in the print media, the release of a new public opinion
poll on the Sunday. It would permit advertising on television on the
Sunday, the day before the election. It would permit newspaper ads and
so on. On Sunday at midnight, of course—that is to say, the day the
election is held, since the day starts at midnight—there wouldn't be
advertising that day. There would not be any ads by third parties,
political parties, candidates, and so on that day, and you couldn't
release a new public opinion poll that day.
A new phenomenon in polling is this whole business of exit polling.
If it's offensive to have the result of the real poll on the night of
the election, before you've even voted, then surely this business of
these exit polls must be as offensive or close to it. In the opinion
of some, they're a lot worse, because they're not based on scientific
data, they're taken from a particular time of the day when a
particular age group votes and therefore not necessarily
representative of everybody, and so on.
The point I'm making is that the release of those exit polls or
entrance polls—because if you actually put in the bill that an exit
poll is not permitted, then instead of asking the person how they
voted when they come out of the poll, you'll ask them how they're
going to vote as they come in. Technically, you get around the law.
So that would make no sense.
So the only logical way, I think, of doing it is to have the actual
ban on the day of the election itself, not the day before, to make it
in a way that would be acceptable to a larger number of people.
I think the measure was good in any case, but I think it is as good
or close to it with the shortened period. It probably would fulfil
largely the same objectives, while not depriving people the
opportunity to both advertise at the media outlets and to receive the
funding from the advertising, because, of course, newspapers are not
all philanthropic in nature. They're usually owned by business people
who make revenues from this advertisement. Particularly in an
election campaign, this is a source of revenue for them.
So I would be prepared to do that, Mr. Chairman. I would invite, of
course, questions afterward on that score, and on all others as well.
I'd now like to say a few words about the issue of child care
expenses. Some of the witnesses you have heard, I am thinking
particularly of the association of women's groups, suggested that
candidates' expenses also include costs related to the care of
candidates' dependents such as, for example, the cost of caring for a
As you know, I already noted to committee members that it was my
intention to propose that child care costs be included. I'll be
suggesting that the list of eligible expenses include the cost of
caring for dependents. I think it would be more inclusive and would
probably be a better way of going about it; the purpose, of course, is
to lighten the financial burden for persons wishing to run as
Let me emphasize once again that this measure applies both to men and
women. The effect, however, would not be the same.
I think that in most cases, those who have dependents are women. It
may not be a great incentive, I don't claim it is, but it may be some
encouragement for women who wish to run as candidates.
On the number of copies of the preliminary list, some members of the
committee have asked that Elections Canada be required to provide each
candidate with one paper and electronic copy of the preliminary list
of electors. In addition, a candidate could be provided with up to
four additional paper copies upon request. That's only reasonable.
There's nothing wrong with that idea, of course. I'd be pleased to
accommodate that. The objective here is to make this work better, and
I'm ready to put forward the amendments I've just described.
Now, Mr. Solomon has talked about the issue of vouching, and I've
been wrestling with that one. I want to find a solution, and I will.
If it's not ready in time for the committee to report, then I can
introduce it at report stage. But I'm trying to accommodate this
We should note that in the context of federal elections, however, Mr.
Chairman, an elector doesn't need to present—contrary, for instance,
to provincial elections in some provinces—a piece of identification
if he or she is already on the voters list.
So we're not talking about...again using the example of Mr. Solomon,
where a guy gets off his tractor to go to vote and forgets his ID. If
that person is on the voters list, it doesn't make any difference,
unless of course the DRO believes that person is committing something
fraudulent or wants to double-check. That's already in the act. But
generally speaking, you're not required to present ID to vote, so it's
In order to actually need vouching or something like that, a person
would have to be in the following two situations of jeopardy. First,
he or she shows up at the poll and finds their name is not on the
voters list. Second, he or she takes out their wallet to find the ID,
and doesn't have ID either. So it's only when those two conditions
are met that you would actually need this at all.
What I'm studying now is the possibility of an amendment that would
be perhaps something like this. The DRO, the deputy returning
officer.... There's a provision in the rules as we have them now that
the deputy returning officer can seek a person to provide identity
documents. We're working to see if identity documents or, in lieu
thereof, personal knowledge of the person or something like that....
Often, particularly in rural areas, you could have a ridiculous
situation where the DRO sits there and says, “Good morning, Mr.
Jones. You're coming in to vote. Oh, you're not on the voters list,
Mr. Jones. Well of course, rules being what they are, show me your ID
so I can let you vote. You forgot your ID? Sorry, Mr. Jones, I know
you're Mr. Jones, but I can't let you vote.”
I think that's what you're referring to.
Mr. John Solomon: That was the point exactly.
Mr. Don Boudria: We can create an amendment to fix that. If
that's what is intended as the objective, we're going to work on that
and achieve fixing that, so we don't have the inappropriate situation
that I just described, which can and probably will happen unless we
find the appropriate measure. The objective, of course, of the
election law is to get as many people as possible to vote, providing
they're discharging that right legally and properly. Nothing should
be a form of impairment for them to do that.
I have a binder here of the other amendments. I could briefly go
through a few of them. Some of them are rather technical—it will take
me five or six minutes. It depends on the will of the committee, Mr.
Chairman. I'm free to do it either way.
The Chair: Given that they're coming from you, Mr. Minister, it's
probably a good idea to run through them quickly.
Mr. Don Boudria: I'll do that very quickly. First of all, I'm
going to be proposing an amendment to adjust the candidates' spending
limits using the revised list of electors. Since we're now on a
permanent list, there is not the threshold—on the 28th day or
whatever it was—where the number of people that are registered that
day is the number you base your election campaign spending on. You're
basing it on the permanent voters list, and sometimes that has names
missing. If people forgot a few blocks that weren't added to the list
and so on, the amount of spending that equates to that is not
available to the candidate.
So I propose to have an amendment using a revised list on the seventh
day before the election, providing that revised list increases the
amount. Obviously, if it decreases...you can't take the lawn signs
out of the lawn and return them to the supplier if you've lost voters.
So it would only work if the amount increases. I think it was a
loophole, and maybe it should have been there in the beginning. It
needs a bit of fixing.
I think we also need to allow members of Parliament to use the list
of electors to solicit contributions, recruit members for their
political party, and so on. Most people probably think the list
provides for that now, because the paper list that we had before did.
However, that interpretation is not at all clear, and I think we
should put it in the act.
We are going to have an amendment, which I described before, to allow
electors in physical danger to provide their former address of
residence. I'm thinking here of providing shelters for battered women
the availability of the address of the shelter not being identified.
This is for protection of the victim, as you'll understand. It's not
technically only for shelters for battered women, but the effect is
virtually always that.
I want to have an amendment to allow disabled electors to vote at
home with the assistance of an elections officer. The disabled voter
who votes at home can just mark the X on the ballot—that's fine, and
probably not too difficult. However, they have to sign the outer
envelope. Many times if they can sign the outer envelope they could
probably go to the poll and vote anyway. It's the disability that
renders them unable to do that. So we're going to provide that if
that condition arises, the election officers can sign as witnesses
instead. I think the committee would probably want that.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: One or two officials?
Ms. Isabelle Mondou (Privy Council Office): An election official.
Mr. Don Boudria: An official.
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: In addition to a witness chosen by the
Mr. Don Boudria: An official and a witness. This will be indicated
in the amendments.
Mr. André Harvey: A witness at the table or a witness from the
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: A witness for the elector.
Mr. Don Boudria: Also, there is the clarification on the child
child and dependent care issue.
There are also a few technical amendments. One is to clarify that
the ban on releasing an election poll on election day only applies to
a new election poll. For instance, if there's a newspaper story on
election day that refers to a poll taken three months ago, obviously
you don't want to stop that. That's just regular news coverage. So
it's for greater clarification. It's understood, but I think it's
important to clarify it.
We specify that when we're talking about taking polls on election
day, it's not just polls of how people intend to vote. Polls of how
they voted are the same. This captures both the entrance poll and the
There are also a few others in there to make the language consistent,
such as one referring to “election desk” as opposed to
There's one that I think you brought to our attention in your study
of the bill, Mr. Chairman, or perhaps it was Mr. White who did that.
It was in regard to Canadian citizenship. If a person had
citizenship, they could vote on certification. But a person who has
citizenship doesn't necessarily have a right to vote. For instance,
they could be 17, so they don't necessarily have a right to vote.
So thank you, Mr. White, for bringing that one to our attention. We
fixed it, and I hope the amendment satisfies you.
There's a reference to a balance of probability instead of the
satisfaction of the returning officer. Apparently it's a more
objective term legally.
There's also clarification needed for military voters. It was a
portion in the first draft of the bill, but for some reason it was
left out of the second one. It's a misprint of sorts, so it has to go
back in. It was the Canadian Forces themselves that brought to our
attention that they had gone missing between the first and second
We also want to put an amendment in there regarding election signs.
If there's election signage, of course, no one can take away and
vandalize your signs. However, people who work for the city need
protection. If someone puts one of your signs on top of a stop sign,
they have to have the authority to be able to remove it for public
safety without being charged under the Elections Act. The amendment
just clarifies that.
On the third-party limits, again it was the committee that brought to
our attention that in the case of a by-election, it wasn't clear
whether the $3,000 limit applied to each by-election or to all of them
put together. Of course, it's meant to be each by-election. For
instance, we just had four by-elections, which would mean $12,000, not
$3,000. It was the intent, but maybe it wasn't expressed in the
proper way, or at least not clearly enough. I've proposed a
clarification amendment for that.
Also, there was one that required the financial report of the trust
fund of a political party to be audited. This was in the first draft
of the bill, but again it disappeared from the second one for whatever
reason. It's going to go back in.
A clarification that the blackout.... No, that one is gone now,
because it doesn't.... This is in reference to 48 hours, but that's
There are also a number of small technical amendments regarding the
consistency of both languages.
I'm sorry to have taken a few minutes to go through that. Those
things will be distributed at the proper time, but I just wanted to go
through them briefly so that everyone has an idea of what it was that
I was offering.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.
Mr. White, for five minutes—and as I mentioned earlier, we'll be
pretty strict on the five minutes.
Mr. Ted White: Fine, thank you.
Mr. Minister, it's nice to have you here for me to ask more questions
than I can on the floor. I'm not sure if you've seen the article that
Ms. Yaffe wrote about the Elections Act, but she wasn't very
flattering. I can certainly get you a copy if you'd like one.
Mr. Don Boudria: Oh, I have it.
Mr. Ted White: Good.
Now, you had better get a pen handy, because I have a few good
questions for you.
On the 50-candidate rule, I have had some discussions with you. As
you will note from reading the transcripts, all of the various parties
that came before us as witnesses agreed that they could live with a
figure of 12 candidates. It seemed more logical to them because it
related to the House, and most also pointed out that voters have to
know who they're voting for. If a candidate in Vancouver is shown as
an independent but is actually related to a candidate in Calgary in
the same party, the party name should be on the ballot. I'd like you
to explain why you won't accept the number 12.
The candidate deposit is presently $1,000. A number of witnesses said
they felt that was too high. Could you give us some reasons why we
shouldn't lower it to something more achievable, like $250 or a figure
Mr. Don Boudria: They said it's too high?
Mr. Ted White: They said $1,000 is too high.
In regard to the child care expenses, the caregiver expenses, I
assume that is just for the period of the campaign. Or is that going
to be for all time?
On the electronic voting technologies, the Chief Electoral Officer
was here again, asking us to place in the bill the ability for him to
investigate electronic technologies, new technologies that are coming
along. You indicated to me that you would have a discussion with him
about that, so I wonder what came of that.
When by-elections are called, what about the idea of, once there's a
vacancy, the actual by-election having to occur within six months—not
just being announced within six months but actually held within six
A lot of the witnesses brought up the issue of fixed election dates,
and I'd like your feelings or your comments on that.
The last item is third-party expenses. If we do a little calculation
using the Liberal Party as an example, if you run 301 candidates, each
with about $60,000 in spending money, and you add on the Liberal Party
share of expenses, it comes to about $30 million. So perhaps that's
Mr. Don Boudria: I'm sorry. I don't understand where you get the
$30 million from.
Mr. Ted White: The party itself can spend up to about $12 million,
based on its allocation of broadcasting time and so on. The
candidates, at $60,000 each...it amounts to about $18 million. So
when you add the two together, potentially a party could spend as much
as $30 million on the election effort.
Let's make it $20 million. The figure is not as much in dispute as
the principle. In third-party cases, you're restricting third parties
to $150,000. I'd just like you to give me your thoughts, please,
about the relative fairness of this. You've argued about the fairness
of third-party spending. It doesn't seem very fair to me that you
give third parties $150,000 in spending while the party has almost $30
Mr. Don Boudria: I'll start with the 50-candidate issue. Our
parliamentary system is premised upon a principle that a group of
candidates will be recognized as a political party if they promote
what we generally refer to as the emergence of a coherent political
will. That's why two people don't really make a political party—I
don't think so. It's one of the reasons why we are appealing the
decision. We don't think two works. Two might be a couple, two might
be a barroom conversation or even a barroom brawl, but it's not a
political party—not two people.
We think the number that is there works. We're not appealing the
other provisions of that decision that was taken by Justice Malloy
regarding the liquidation of assets and so on. We're leaving them as
they are. This is the only one we're appealing. Also, I feel most
uncomfortable about changing that number in the middle of an appeal
that's before the courts. I think most of us would agree that two
isn't the right number. That was Justice Malloy's decision. I
haven't found too many parliamentarians who think two candidates is a
That's the indication I gave to this committee in my first meeting as
to why I did not want us to change that number while the issue was
under appeal. Is 50 the right number? Is 40 the right number? Or
should it be 60? Please remember that there are 301 constituencies
across the country. If you look at it by electoral region, sometimes
defined as four and sometimes defined as five...I'll leave you to use
the definition you like. Quebec has 75 members of Parliament in that
region. The Ontario region has in excess of 100. If you count five
regions, that would give the smallest region, British Columbia, what,
30 or 32 seats? So even if you include a group of candidates as a
group from a region, you don't get anywhere near two. That doesn't
Anyway, even if one used the definition of two, you'd have to assume
that if 100% of those candidates—in other words, two out of two—were
elected to the House of Commons, they would somehow make a political
party once they got to the House. They wouldn't even do that. That's
why two doesn't work.
I represent a political party that has had some success over this
century in the House of Commons, and we don't elect 100% of our
candidates. When we elect 60%, we think we've done pretty good. That
constitutes a majority government of 175 or 180 seats or something
like that. It's a pretty handsome majority when a political party
gets that kind of majority, having elected 60% or 55% of the
candidates or whatever that number would equate to. That's why, when
using numbers that are very small, in order to have the end result,
which is the political party, it would have to be based on assuming
that you would elect 100% of your candidates.
Now, in regard to this business of the $1,000 deposit being too high,
this was not raised with me anywhere. It was not in the report of the
committee before. It was not in the Lortie commission report. There
has been no suggestion to that effect. Some people may have raised it
before the committee, but I understand as well that some people
suggested $1,000 was too low. I would suggest that we leave that one
as it is. Also, as you will know, the courts endorsed that amount,
even the decision that I don't like too much, being the one Justice—
A voice: The Figueroa decision.
Mr. Don Boudria: The Figueroa decision, made by Justice Malloy,
did not question that amount of $1,000, even though that's the
decision that said two candidates should be a political party.
On fixed election dates, these things are completely outside of the
mandate I have. If we're going to change...we have a fixed election
date now, arguably, which is five years from the previous election.
That's in our Constitution. What has occurred in our country, as we
would all know, is that a convention has developed that people go to
the polls every four years or thereabouts; it's not the Constitution
but a convention. They don't go to the polls right at the end because
if you go to the polls right at the end it looks like you're enjoying
power so much that you won't let it go until you've had all of it.
That convention has developed in our society, but there is still that
fixed five-year period.
On the issue of changing the rules for a by-election, again, that was
not part of the report of the committee, and it wasn't even raised at
the previous meetings I came to here. At this juncture, I think, that
would be something that I really would not be prepared to change, at
least for this round.
Why don't I answer the question on the ability to investigate
electronic voting? To investigate electronic voting...there is that
whole element now on public education and all these things, and we
think it covers that, but actually using it for a vote is not provided
for in the act.
Need I remind all members of this committee that when the Chief
Electoral Officer, even using what's in the act, did something that
was slightly outside of the ordinary—and I don't think it was that
far out of the ordinary to begin with—such as embarking on a national
education program to talk about how democracy works, such as the UN
Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Child and having young
people vote on something they relate to, the Chief Electoral Officer
was criticized on the floor of the House for having used it?
As a matter of fact, somebody even went so far as to say that these
results were going to the government. Of course they never did
substantiate that, but still, when we put the Chief Electoral Officer
in a position like that, I don't think we're making his role much
Anyway, at the present time there is no firm proposal of that nature
before us, other than the general statement that the Chief Electoral
Officer would like to investigate it. Within the public education
mandate he has, and otherwise, and within his administrative mandate,
I think he probably has the latitude he needs to investigate but not
the latitude to actually do it for a real election. There's nothing
that has been demonstrated to us on how it would be done. I would
suggest that this should be the object of a study by this committee,
and when we have one...I'm not saying no to it, but we don't have a
firm proposal before us in that regard.
On the third-party expenses, we're all aware of the Libman decision
of 1997, in which the Supreme Court, speaking on the issue of third
parties in a referendum, at the same time gave us comments about the
role of third parties in elections. In the Libman decision of the
Supreme Court, the court said, at page 601:
While we recognize their right to participate in the electoral
—“their right” meaning the right of third parties—
independent individuals and groups cannot be subject to the same
financial rules as candidates or political parties and
be allowed the same spending limits. Although what
they have to say is important, it is the candidates and
political parties that are running for election.
So says the Supreme Court in Libman. The court also
Limits on independent spending must therefore be lower
than those imposed on candidates or political parties.
So the court was quite clear on that: it's not that limits on third
parties “should” be lower or greater or “perhaps should” be lower
or greater, but that they “must therefore be lower than those imposed
on candidates or political parties”.
So there's no doubt.
The court further says, in regard to the decision of the Alberta
Court of Appeal in Somerville two—remember that the previous limit on
third-party advertising was $1,000. The second Somerville decision
declared that to be unconstitutional. It was never appealed.
The Supreme Court, in Libman, says—and now I'm referring you to page
619, Mr. Chairman:
In Somerville v. Canada (Attorney General), supra, the Alberta Court
of Appeal declared these provisions to be unconstitutional. With
respect, we have already mentioned that we cannot accept the Alberta
Court of Appeal's point of view because we disagree with its
conclusion regarding the legitimacy of the objective of the
Now, the Supreme Court tells us that $1,000 was okay, and if we
increase it 150 times it must be at least equally okay. I would
suggest that it's probably 150 times more okay—if that's proper
Finally, please remember that, as a candidate, I or any one of us
around the table has a right to spend about $60,000 in an election
campaign, from which we rent our headquarters, our phone lines, pay
for the janitor, for toner for the photocopier, for pickets and signs
and everything else—and all of this is election expenses.
In the case of third parties, the only thing that is an expense is
advertising. Why? Because they're not running candidates. So you
obviously can't calculate the expense of their candidate—they don't
have one. If they did, they wouldn't be a third party. They would be
a candidate. That's why the rules apply only to their advertising and
to nothing else.
We're talking about the amount they could spend on election
advertising versus the amount political parties could spend. Again,
if a political party puts a trailer on its ad saying, “In
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, vote Don Boudria”, that is chargeable
against our expenses as a candidate. If they say “Vote Liberal”,
that of course is not charged against the candidate in each riding.
If they put on a trailer, there's a portion of it that has to be added
to our expenses. Again, third parties have nothing like that to worry
about. It's only on the total of advertising.
Finally, again coming back to the Libman decision, the court said
that a number of them can be against a candidate or emit an opinion.
They're not limited to one in the riding.
For instance, the people in my riding saying “Vote Don Boudria”
would usually be only my election campaign. It's pretty hard to
imagine that my opponent would issue press releases and put up signs
saying “Don't vote for me, vote for Don Boudria”. Third parties,
then, are not limited to one, and therefore a multiplicity of them can
seek to give an opinion for or against a candidate.
With regard to the decision on Libman, again, the Supreme Court says:
Limits on...spending must therefore be lower than those
imposed on candidates or political parties. Otherwise,
owing to their numbers, the impact of such spending on
one of the candidates or political parties to the
detriment of the others could be disproportionate.
In other words, while there could be 15 guys who say “Vote against
Don Boudria”, there usually would be one campaign promoting the
candidacy of Don Boudria.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Minister.
Mr. Don Boudria: I know that was a long answer.
The Chair: I hope colleagues accept that as a fairly concise
run-through of the issues raised by Mr. White. I think it was useful
to have those explanations on the record.
I'll go to Mr. Bergeron, if he has questions, for five minutes.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Thank you, Minister, for agreeing to come
to see us a third time. You know we always enjoy your company.
As far as the new blackout period for advertising, polls and so
forth, you might have been able to avoid a number of questions if you
had taken the trouble to consult all committee members around this
table; nonetheless, I'd like to ask you a short question.
If the blackout is not for 24 hours, what guarantee do we have that a
candidate will be able to respond to an obviously false statement
published on Sunday, accusing the candidate or someone else, or an
obviously false poll, when the blackout begins the following day?
As for expenses involved in the care of children and dependents, do
they also include the child care expenses of a mother or father who
normally has such child care expenses outside the election period?
With respect to voting at home, you say that there will be an
election official in addition to a witness. When we heard from the
former Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec as well as the Chief
Electoral Officer of Ontario, we were told that it would be
appropriate to have a returning officer as well as a clerk to ensure
the independence of this process. I'd be interested in hearing your
reaction to this proposal.
I should also note that I tend to agree with my friend Ted White, as
is often the case, with respect to the requirement to hold a
by-election within six months. I'd like to know what you think of
Relating to the expenses of third parties in a by-election, you
mentioned that when we talk about $3,000, it is not a total of $3,000
for the four by-elections but $3,000 for each of them. Would the total
amount of $150,000 for all constituencies apply in a case such as
I note that the list of amendments you gave us has nothing about
candidates' trusts. Yet you showed a certain openness to the idea of
making some amendments to this. I'd like to know what progress has
been made on that matter.
I know that you've had the opportunity to discuss with Caroline
St-Hilaire her proposal relating to financial incentives to encourage
more women to enter politics. You have made no mention of this. I'd
like to know whether, assuming you will not be making any proposal,
you would agree with that of Ms. St-Hilaire.
Lastly, I'd like to put two short questions. Have you changed your
opinion on the nomination of returning officers and the possibility of
making some amendments to the funding of political parties?
Mr. Don Boudria: Perhaps you could elaborate on the funding of
political parties? What exactly do you mean?
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: The setting of a ceiling that could be
relatively high as well as positive changes to the present
provisions relating to the sources of funding.
Mr. Don Boudria: Let me start with your first question, that
is the blackout period. Even if a poll appears on Sunday, the fact
remains that the next day... First of all, there is a requirement
to publish information about the poll's methodology. So on the eve
of the election, a person may publish a poll as well as the
methodology. In fact, there was no methodology. So he must state
that the poll was done without any methodology. In such a case,
other newspapers, assuming it is a newspaper, but it could also be
a television network, would be in a position to denounce this
practice the next day. As a matter of fact, the situation occurred
during the last elections. An improper poll had been conducted by
a newspaper and the next day they were the laughing stock of the
other papers pointing out that it made no sense, that it was a
mishmash, it wasn't serious etc.
So the possibility exists since on the morning of the next
day, it is still fresh in people's memory, they realize that what
was done the day before had no value. Nothing will change this. The
only thing that changes is that 48 hours is replaced by 24.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: But what about a false statement?
Mr. Don Boudria: The same applies, the rules remain in effect.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: The candidate cannot make a rebut all.
Mr. Don Boudria: No, but there is no difference from the
previous situation. Previously it applied for 48 hours. Let's
imagine that on Saturday evening at 11:30, someone says that Eleni
Bakopanos is dishonest. It would be an awful thing and of course
quite dishonest to make such a statement. Under the former system,
it was not possible for the victim of such a falsehood to make a
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: But the victim could make a statement
in the newspapers the following day.
Mr. Don Boudria: Yes, a statement is allowed.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: But Monday would be too late.
Mr. Don Boudria: No, it is still allowed to make a statement
or to issue a press release. All that is still allowed.
As far as the costs of care are concerned, and I'm sorry I
didn't answer this question when Mr. White put it to me, they apply
during the period of the election campaign and reference is made to
additional costs. We have to be careful. The fact of being a
candidate cannot justify the subsidy of a person's child care
expenses. I think Canadians would say that since they are not
entitled to any such provision, why should you? We are not offering
advantages to anyone.
Mr. John Solomon: A national day care program would help.
Mr. Don Boudria: Well, yes, of course, and when the provinces
agree with us that it should be done, I'm sure it will happen. With
the tremendous influence we have with New Democrat premiers, it'll
probably happen quickly.
Mr. John Solomon: You can reinstate all the cuts you made.
Mr. Don Boudria: Oh, oh. I think we're getting sidetracked here.
As for the clause on voting at home, could we perhaps have some
clarification? I could perhaps ask Ms. Mondou to elaborate, if I may.
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: I think the question was why there is a
witness and not two election officials. It's rather similar to section
155 of the Act allowing an elector requiring assistance to vote at a
poll to be assisted by a friend. The same principle is at work here.
Mr. Don Boudria: If someone comes to the poll on election day and
is unable to vote by himself, he can be assisted by an election
official and a witness. The provision allows for the same procedure
when people vote at home. That is all.
If there are any objections to this system, I am willing to hear
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: The former Chief Electoral Officer of
Quebec as well as the Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario told us that
in their provinces, they used a returning officer as well as a clerk.
This ensures a certain element of independence to the process,
something that is not necessarily the case here. If I'm not mistaken,
section 155 is much wider and allows not for the presence of one
person but perhaps the presence of more than one person.
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: The new version of section 155 allows for
only one friend, as a matter of fact.
Mr. Don Boudria: Let me read the provision:
155. (1) If an elector requires assistance to vote, if a friend or
relative may accompany the elector [...]
—not both of them—
[...] and assist the elector to mark his or her ballot.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Could this friend or relative provide
assistance in a residence, for example?
Mr. Don Boudria: No, not at all. It is set out in subsection
2. The possibility had been discussed. It is to avoid having a
person with influence assist in the voting of everyone. Otherwise,
there could be corruption. That is why there is this prohibition.
(2) No person shall as a friend assist more than one elector for
the purpose of marking a ballot.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Not even a relative?
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: One at a time.
Mr. Don Boudria: The prohibition is there.
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: For the family there is a limit.
Mr. Don Boudria: Don't forget we're talking about a relative.
I don't have 14 mothers, I have only one. The problem is far less
likely to occur in the case of a parent than that of a friend. A
person may have many friends. For example, someone who would like
to influence the vote, let's say in a residence for the disabled or
senior citizens or in a group home, could decide that all the
residents are his friends and bring them all to vote his way at the
same time. It is to avoid this type of corruption that no person is
allowed to assist more than one elector.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: So the idea of having two election
officials does not strike you as being particularly attractive?
Mr. Don Boudria: It could be changed.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: I see.
Mr. Don Boudria: I don't see any objection to it.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: I'll listen to the rest of your answer.
Mr. Don Boudria: As far as candidates' trusts are concerned,
we are still working on that. I hope that I can present our
proposals at the report stage. I haven't yet finished the work.
As for the returning officers, as I said in the House, the
system we have exists in six provinces as well as the Parliament of
Canada. I think it is a good one and so did the Lortie Commission.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: But it did have a few reservations. I
read you a passage where they said that this must be independent
from the government and we know for a fact that the present system
is not completely independent of the government.
Mr. Don Boudria: Well, I think that the process is a sound
one. For example, there are very severe measures to withdraw
someone from this function. It is very complicated. The purpose is
to avoid having a government attempt, for all sorts of reasons, to
change all the returning officers for every new election or
something of that type.
As you probably know, when a returning officer is appointed,
he or she remains in the position until the next adjustment to the
boundaries of the constituency or until he or she retires or dies.
These people are appointed permanently, in the same way as judges,
to ensure their independence. Of course, they are chosen in quite
a different way from judges. It is described as a permanent
appointment. In other words, it is impossible to remove them from
this position except for a very serious reason. As I said, since I
have been the minister responsible, I think that we have removed
two of them.
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: Not even.
Mr. Don Boudria: Technically, they were not dismissed. We
approached them and told them—
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: That they should retire.
Mr. Don Boudria: No, we told them that we intended to take
measures because they had not carried out their job properly. There
was even a case where an election official had disappeared and
something had to be done. As a matter of fact, it wasn't even a
member of my party, it was one of yours. No one was able to find
him and measures had to be taken. We were finally successful in
tracking her down and told her that she no longer lived in the
constituency, that that was sufficient and that if she did not hand
in her resignation, we would take the appropriate steps. It was
with the support of the member of Parliament that we withdrew her
A similar case took place somewhere else in Canada and the
same thing happened. We simply informed the person that he should
withdraw. That is two people out of 301. It is untrue, to say, as
some have, that the returning officer is changed for every
election. The returning officer in my riding was appointed by the
Conservatives in 1988.
A Member: Probably a good one.
Mr. Don Boudria: Yes, she's fantastic, even though she was
appointed by them. She's done a very good job. When the electoral
boundaries were adjusted in 1997—
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: It doesn't always happen that way.
Mr. Don Boudria: I don't intend to change. Was it in 1997 or
1993? Between 1993 and 1997, for the 1997 elections.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Yes, that's right.
Mr. Don Boudria: There was an assessment of the electoral
boundaries in my constituency like most other constituencies in the
country, with the exception of two or three, I think. I personally had
no intention of recommending the dismissal of this person who had done
such a good job. She still occupies her position and she will remain
there as long as she continues to do such good work. I hope she will
keep on for many more years. She has my wishes for good health because
we need her.
As for a ceiling on donations, that was not recommended either by the
Lortie Commission or the parliamentary committee. When you talk about
imposing a ceiling on donations, you are thinking only of individual
donations. You are not thinking of a ceiling that would apply to funds
that a party may receive. You are talking about an individual
contribution to a political party during the course of a year.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: There are two things, Minister. First of
all there is the source and then there is the ceiling. It could be
established, for example, that whatever the source, an individual may
not contribute more than a particular amount, and a company could not
contribute more than a particular amount to a political party or a
Mr. Don Boudria: There is no limit of this type, except for the
fact that any contribution in excess of $200 must be made public, as
you know. The contributions that are made public are subject to public
judgment. Anyone may find out whether Mr. Bergeron, Ms.
Dalphond-Guiral, Mr. Boudria or Mr. Solomon have received money from
such and such a person for the funding of their election campaign. The
system is a transparent one. I think it is also accountable,
particularly when we take into account what we are attempting to do
with trusts. I think that that will improve the system even more so
that it is possible to know who exactly has made what donation and to
Now, as for banning contributions that are not from individuals,
there are very few advantages in this. Lortie said that it was so easy
to get around such a provision as to make it meaningless. He perhaps
didn't use those words exactly, but that's more or less what he was
trying to say.
We know how things work now. Instead of a company contributing an
amount of $1,000, the president contributes $500, the vice- president
$300, and the secretary $200, which works out to the same. The only
difference is that the system is less, instead of more, transparent.
The real source of the money is no longer known. It comes from people
with little-known names instead of coming from GM, Ford or some other
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Except that it's illegal, Mr. Minister. The
people doing such things know that they are committing an illegal act
and that they may be charged with committing this illegal act.
Mr. Don Boudria: Lortie also said that party coffers would be
quickly emptied if we did that. That's not the main point, but it is
another consideration that Lortie brought out.
You are also aware that funds transferred from a riding association
to a party, from a party to a riding association, or from the
candidate's reimbursement to a riding association are now included in
the bill. None of it was previously. Therefore, we are including
elements that will increase transparency, and I think that these
elements are important.
Let's look at the incentives for recruiting more female candidates.
Of course, I have described a few modest measures that I would not
describe as major initiatives, but even what Ms. St- Hilaire is
calling for in her bill is not a major initiative. She is assuming
that, if we tell parties that they'll receive a refund if they
nominate enough women in ridings where they win, they will in fact
nominate more and women will win more often. That's the principle that
There was another measure, that I had proposed to your committee,
which would be to recruit more candidates. That's another possibility.
To date, these measures have not received much support. Not all
members of Parliament are in favour of this, far from it. I am
continuing to consult, but at this time, the initiative has not
received much support. At least two of the political parties around
this table have taken a position squarely against these two
initiatives. I can live with that, and it doesn't mean that it cannot
be done, but it is nevertheless important to note that two of the five
parties are opposed to them.
As for the general public, it feels about the same way. There is far
from being a consensus in favour of these initiatives. In any event,
I'm still raising the issue. I've made speeches all over the place.
I'm trying to get whatever support I can. Thank you for offering me
yours, if that's what you're doing. We'll see if we can get enough
support to set up the project. If so, I will include it at report
stage. That may work, but it won't be a big advantage.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. André Harvey: I too will join the others in thanking the
Minister for appearing here. He does live up to his reputation of
always being available for the House's activities for more than 30
As far as financing is concerned, I'd like to tell the
Minister that there are some interesting new possibilities here. We
could not, in this committee, do a complete overhaul of the
financing of national political parties because we would need to
work for several more months, but some interesting new
possibilities have been opened up.
It has been pointed out, a number of times, that Canadians
seem prepared to accept that their national government pay a
significant share of election campaign financing, because this
would safeguard its reputation of honesty and do away with this
impression of there being a hidden agenda on the part of the large
organizations that underwrite the parties, that is, corporations,
banks, unions and so on. I therefore believe that our committee
should consider studying this issue in the coming years.
With regard to demonstrating a little more objectivity in
appointing returning officers, there could be a more rational and
less partisan way of appointing these people. I'm not saying that
the people who are appointed do not do their job well,
Mr. Minister. I put the question directly to the Chief Electoral
Officer. I asked him whether it was an essential element of his
recommendations. Unless I'm mistaken, the Chief Electoral Officer,
Mr. Kingsley, told him that it was an essential element of his
recommendations and that he believed that returning officers should
be appointed in accordance with the strictest standards that are
found in business and in all our activities.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: You have understood clearly this time.
Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Bergeron, we do our best to understand,
but we don't always succeed, do we?
As far as the blackout for opinion surveys is concerned, I
think we should scrap this proposal and not worry about it. I will
check my facts again, Mr. Minister, but we looked closely at the
impact of publishing surveys and it seemed that the impact on
voting intentions was negligible. I am reserving the right to
With regard to third-party advertising and activities in
election campaigns, you are upholding your position, if I
understand correctly, Mr. Minister. You would like to provide
financial guidelines, at both the riding and the national campaign
levels. You know that we are not in favour of this. We are going to
reexamine it. We intend to go back over your testimony this evening
and we will attempt to analyze all this.
On the issue of encouraging women to participate in political
life, we had a good discussion this afternoon, when we heard the
fine presentation by Ms. Manon Tremblay. We had an interesting
debate here. If I understand correctly, you are withdrawing your
intention to promote...
Mr. Don Boudria: I am still reviewing this issue.
Mr. André Harvey: Thank you, Mr. President. If the Minister
wishes to react, he is free to do so.
Mr. Don Boudria: Yes I would. With regard to public funds, of
course, the government reimburses political parties for 22.5% of
their eligible expenses after the election. Opinion surveys are
excluded, but the parties are reimbursed for 22.5% of their other
costs in general. Second, candidates are reimbursed for
approximately 50% of their expenses. So 50% of the candidate's
expenses and 22.5% of the parties' expenses are reimbursed.
All of these expenses should not be borne solely by taxpayers.
It might happen that a political party had no support from
electors, but was nevertheless able to claim full reimbursement.
That is the danger.
This is the problem we ran into a few years ago. What was the
name of that group that showed up in various places? The Natural
Law Party. The members of this party had found a way of extorting
money from taxpayers by claiming to be a political party. They took
advantage of the generous reimbursement provisions. We have to be
careful not to create situations like that. If a political party
has so little public support that no one wants to contribute to its
cause, it is possible that this party does not deserve to be
supported by any one, including taxpayers.
I wouldn't go as far as Mr. Ted White, who told us, if I
understood his testimony correctly two days ago—he may even have
a bill in the House—that taxpayers should not participate at all
in the election reimbursement. I think that there is some middle
ground. Is the current formula, namely 50% for the candidates and
22.5% for the parties, a good one? Should we change it? Mr.
Chairman, I would encourage you to do some long-term thinking on
this, but without delaying passage of the bill. This is a societal
choice that we may make at one point.
Mr. André Harvey: I would like to point out to the Minister
that an insignificant party will not be able to raise money. The
credit system is the best formula. The insignificant party will not
be able to raise money.
Mr. Don Boudria: When I talked about public money, I did not
even talk about the tax credit that exists as well as the two
formulas which I've just described.
As for returning officers, if I am not mistaken, Mr. Warren
Bailie, when he appeared before you, said that if he had to hire
returning officers using the method that some people have
suggested, he would have to double his staff. Right now he has 19
people on staff. He would have to hire 19 additional people. This
would mean 19 people for Ontario alone. The ridings are identical
federally and provincially. If we need 19 for Ontario alone, we
would no doubt need 50 nationally.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Two.
Mr. Don Boudria: Listen, something is not right here. When we
need 19 people for one province, two will certainly not be adequate
at the national level. This is mathematically impossible. When you
need 19 people provincially, you need nearly 50 nationally. Do the
calculations yourself. The provincial and federal ridings in
Ontario are identical. The ridings often use the same staff. In my
opinion, a bureaucracy of this size is not warranted.
As for the third parties, I would invite you to give some
thought to the matter. It's up to you to decide whether you are
still in favour of third parties or not. I know that when we
presented the bill at the beginning, the leader of your party had
said, in the House, that he was in favour of it. Then, the official
of the party that just appeared before your committee said that he
was against it. Of course, you can't be both for and against
something. At any rate, I would invite you to give some thought to
the matter and to consult the Libman decision. I have some copies
of the decision and I can provide you with them, particularly the
relevant pages, to help you as you examine this issue. I think that
what the Supreme Court had to say about this matter in this
decision is quite important.
I don't know if I answered all your questions. I think so.
Mr. André Harvey: What about the incentive?
Mr. Don Boudria: With respect to the incentive for women, as
I said earlier, we have not yet come up with a position on this
issue. I'm not saying no yet. I'm waiting to see if we can reach a
consensus on the matter. If there is no support for this measure,
I'm certainly not going to adopt it.
The Chair: Mr. Minister, I know you've had a long day. Most of us
here have, and the day is continuing.
Mr. Don Boudria: Yes, I had a meeting with you at 7.15 this
The Chair: That's correct. It now being 6.15 in the evening, I'm
just wondering how much more time you have. Mr. Solomon had a
Mr. John Solomon: I'd like my fair share of time. I have a number
of questions, and I'd like them answered.
The Chair: Okay. Mr. Solomon has at least one question.
A voice: We don't have much time.
Mr. John Solomon: Well, the minister can stay and everybody else
can go. It doesn't matter to me.
The Chair: Okay.
I'm just wondering if you have a time constraint we should be aware
Mr. Don Boudria: No, other than nearing exhaustion, everything
else is fine.
The Chair: All right. We'll go to Mr. Solomon then.
Mr. John Solomon: I appreciate the efforts on the rural vouching.
It's not affecting thousands of people, but it's important in
I have a number of questions. One is in relation to preventing
costly by-elections in the case of a tie. Why did you eliminate the
returning officer not voting during an election? It's my view that if
the returning officer were to cast a ballot in the case of a tie, that
would save us tens of thousands of dollars in by-election costs each
time it happened, if it does indeed happen.
Secondly, Mr. Minister, could we not have the methodology of the poll
published simultaneously with the poll, rather than the 24-hour limit?
Mr. Don Boudria: That's actually the case, but I'll explain it.
Mr. John Solomon: Okay. Thirdly, I've had a lot of people suggest
that we should add occupation to the voters lists. If we're getting
name and address, what's wrong with occupation? The bill says only
the member of Parliament can use the voters lists for communications
purposes, or during a federal election, candidates can use that. So
an occupation would be very helpful. I would like to see phone
numbers as well, but I understand the problems with phone numbers in
terms of privacy, so I won't get into that one.
The fourth issue is numbered companies making contributions. Is
there some way you can make that more transparent? For example, if a
numbered company makes a contribution, it's important to have the name
and address of the president or the chief executive officer of that
company, rather than just the numbered company, so that we know who
Additionally, I don't believe the Saskatchewan voting-day
poll-closing situation is addressed adequately in the bill, and I'd
like to propose an amendment.
Mr. Don Boudria: We still don't have it right?
Mr. John Solomon: We still don't have it right, and I'd like to
propose that we add to subclause 128(a) the following:
Except polls in Saskatchewan observing central standard
time while other time zones observe daylight savings
time, the voting hours on polling day are 7.30 a.m.
to 7.30 p.m.
I know there's a clause establishing that the Chief Electoral Officer
can make these judgments, but why not just put the darn thing in the
act so that people in Saskatchewan know what they're dealing with,
instead of having an arbitrary decision that may or may not be made by
the Chief Electoral Officer affect the entire province? I'd like you
to address that, because we screwed up Saskatchewan once before, and
I'm trying to provide you with a very clear direction to make it
right. So I would ask you to consider that as well.
I have one more question, dealing with clarification of your
presentation. You mentioned blackout polls moving to 24 hours.
Please clarify for me whether that means at midnight on Saturday or
midnight on Sunday that the ban takes effect.
Mr. Don Boudria: Sunday.
Mr. John Solomon: So it's not 24 hours. Is it 24 hours before
election day or before the polls close?
A voice: Before the polls close.
Mr. Michael Peirce (Director of Legal Operations, Legislation and
House Planning, Privy Council Office): It's slightly less than 24
Mr. John Solomon: So then there's really no ban. It's wide open.
The only ban we have is a blackout on reporting the actual poll, which
is the election results on election day. So if we're going to do
that, why don't we just lift the blackout periods, everybody can vote
from 8 to 8, and it clarifies the situation?
The final point, if I might, is there's been controversy in the
Pacific time zone, in particular the lower mainland, about the 7 to 7
polling hours. The controversy surrounds the fact that if you've ever
been to Vancouver and tried to travel in rush hour, even if you get
the three hours off, sometimes it's difficult to vote. There have
been some suggestions that 7 to 7 should be changed to 7.30 to 7.30.
I would ask you to consider that as well.
Mr. Don Boudria: Okay. On the tie, I'm not saying ties are
impossible, but they're reasonably close to that.
Mr. John Solomon: It happened in Saskatchewan this fall.
Mr. Don Boudria: That could be, but at the federal level, the last
time there was a tie was in 1962. It was the case of Monsieur
Martineau and Tom Lefebvre. Martineau was elected by the returning
officer's vote, one vote, because he was the incumbent. The situation
would have been a lot more difficult had there not been an incumbent.
What happened was the incumbent was returned by that vote.
I had the numbers last time. I believe there have been six ties
since Confederation in Canada. Two of the six were overturned on
recount, which means there have in fact been four. In every election,
300 people are denied the right to vote because they're returning
officers. Multiply 300 people times the number of elections we've had
since Confederation; we've had 30 or so elections since Confederation.
Is it normal to stop 9,000 people from voting because there have been
Mr. John Solomon: Out of how many million? Probably 175 million
over those 10 years, or thereabouts, if you're going to use the same
numbers. The point is there has to be some neutrality at that level as
well until election day.
Mr. Don Boudria: The charter right to vote is there in the
Constitution. We don't believe that can stand a charter test now. Of
Mr. John Solomon: [Inaudible—Editor].
Mr. Don Boudria: No, but finally, it should be noted that.... You
used the example of Saskatchewan. Did the judge not order a new
Mr. John Solomon: No, not on that one, not the tie.
Mr. Don Boudria: No?
The case of Maurizio Bevilacqua is the latest quasi-tie we had in the
House of Commons. It happened in 1988. A fellow by the name of
O'Brien, a Conservative, was declared elected, sat in the House of
Commons, and then was declared unelected. He actually gave a speech.
A guy who was never a member of Parliament is in Hansard. Check
Mr. O'Brien then began a series of recounts, which lasted about a
year and a half. Finally the courts threw the whole thing out and
said, “Have a new election.” It took almost two years to get
Maurizio Bevilacqua to take his seat in the House of Commons. He could
tell you how much money he spent to do that. Let's say it was a
quarter of a million dollars in recounts, lawyers, and so on, plus two
elections. Is it normal that that amount of money be spent in the
democratic process should there be a tie?
Is it not more normal to have a by-election two weeks hence or one
week hence or a few days hence? Everybody has their headquarters,
everybody has everything there—the telephones are hooked up,
everything is already installed. In case it happens once every 30 or
40 years, is that not a more efficient way of doing it? I think it is
more reasonable than what is proposed in the event of a tie. Anyway,
I suppose it's a matter of opinion.
On the publishing of methodology, I hope it's written the way I think
it is. The way it's written—and perhaps Madame Mondou could give me
the clause, if she doesn't mind—the methodology is published
simultaneously. What the 24 hours means is that for the first 24
hours that you publish a poll, you must release its methodology.
326.(1) The first person who transmits the result of an election
survey—other than a survey that is described in section 327—to the
public during an election period...within 24 hours after they
are...transmitted to the public must provide the following....
In other words, during the first 24 hours, every time you refer to
it, you must publish the methodology. It's not that you publish the
methodology 24 hours later, saying, “By the way, you know the poll we
did in yesterday's newspaper? It was one of these rogue things. It
means nothing.” Of course that would probably be worse than not
having any rule at all, if you had it constructed like that.
Certainly that's not what is intended.
On occupation, it was raised at the committee, as you know, and
there's not much support for putting that part in it. I raised the
issue with the people at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and
the test for them is whether it is necessary in order to conduct an
election. Frankly, I don't think I could argue that it is. Before
you put in any kind of invasion of people's privacy, there's a test of
necessity. If it's necessary, it's necessary. But how is this
necessary at all? It's pretty hard to prove that whether John Smith is
a busboy or a cabinet minister makes much difference in terms of
trying to identify him. In the case of Don Boudria, he's been both at
one time or another.
On the numbered companies, the addresses will now be supplied. Are
you aware of that? That's a change we made for the contributions.
Mr. John Solomon: Why can't we have the name and address of the
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: The name of a company may be the number.
Mr. John Solomon: As you know, numbered companies are usually law
offices. As somebody said, 99% of the numbered companies list law
offices as their addresses.
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: That's their name.
Mr. John Solomon: What about the name of the person who is in
charge of that company? That's more transparent than a lawyer's
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: It's public information.
Mr. Don Boudria: Yes, if you have the numbered company and the
address, the officers of it are on record right here in the Library of
Mr. John Solomon: Will that be published now? Is that what you're
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: No.
Mr. John Solomon: Well, that's the point. Let's make it
transparent. We could just research all these things. That's
possible. But why?
Mr. Don Boudria: Are you saying then that there should be the name
of one officer of the company as well as the name and address?
Mr. John Solomon: The name of the company, yes...I'm sorry, the
Mr. Don Boudria: Sometimes they have no name.
Mr. John Solomon: —of the chief executive office or the president.
I don't really care which, but there should be some name to the
company, as opposed to a lawyer's office that 6,000 companies—
Mr. Don Boudria: Let me study that. I'm not against it per se.
If it helps to identify and give more transparency, it sounds....
If you had that for a numbered company, would you have it for a named
Mr. John Solomon: Sure.
Mr. Don Boudria: Whether something's called 1234 Canada Inc. or
whether it's called ABC Canada Inc., it doesn't change a heck of a
Mr. John Solomon: Or CIBC, yes. It doesn't matter. Sure, make it
that way for all of them.
Mr. Don Boudria: So when it's not a person, there has to be an
Mr. John Solomon: That would be fine.
Mr. Don Boudria: We'll look at that.
Mr. John Solomon: I'm specifically aiming at the numbered
companies, because you know where CIBC is, you know where John Deere
is, and you know where all these companies are. You just don't know
where 15799332 Inc. is.
An hon. member: [Inaudible—Editor]
Mr. John Solomon: Right, or who they are.
Mr. Don Boudria: All right.
On standard time, I believe it was worded that way at the request of
the Chief Electoral Officer, but I can check it out. One of the
reasons it was written that way, though, is that standard time is a
provincial issue in Canada, not a federal one. We had the case a few
years ago where Newfoundland changed its time. I don't know if you
are aware of that. Provinces can do that, and one actually did. The
experiment failed and they went back to the original time. But this
is to permit the Chief Electoral Officer to adjust things without
having to go back to Parliament should that occur.
Mr. John Solomon: That's still in there in clause 129, but I
raised this with the Chief Electoral Officer and you still don't have
Saskatchewan identified. He says the numbers here are for standard
time, which is fine. All I'm saying is that those polls in
Saskatchewan observe central standard time, not central time. Could
they be given specific hours? I think that solves the issue. The
8.30 times in clause 128 will remain intact with respect to standard
time, but when it comes to daylight savings time, which you don't want
to.... If that's the case in Saskatchewan, they can have those hours.
This covers it all off. I think it should be a Saskatchewan-specific
Mr. Don Boudria: I'm not against it. We'll contact the Chief
Electoral Officer to check out that provision in order to ensure that
it provides the clarification you seek.
Mr. John Solomon: Well, no, I'm sorry. I'd like to see the
amendment if you could, Don.
Mr. Don Boudria: I'm sorry, I can't—
Mr. John Solomon: It has to outline Saskatchewan's situation
during the course of daylight savings. I think my wording almost
entirely covers it.
Mr. Don Boudria: Well, please provide us with a copy of it and
we'll check it out.
Mr. John Solomon: Thank you.
Mr. Don Boudria: On the blackout, I'm sorry, but I forgot the
question you asked. You had a specific—
Mr. John Solomon: I think you clarified that already.
Mr. Don Boudria: Okay, that's done.
On the question of three hours off, we had four hours at one time.
As you know, that was later changed to three.
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: With the staggered hours.
Mr. Don Boudria: As we now have staggered hours, we realized that
if we change the time in one part of the country, it has a triggering
effect all the way to the other end, including voting possibly very
late at night at the other end. It could cause major disruptions.
I'll look at it again, but it was negotiated with the provinces when
it was established. Please remember, it's not free. If you have
uniform time and you change it at one end, obviously the uniformity
will cause it to change everywhere else; otherwise it wouldn't be
Mr. John Solomon: No. It just adds another half hour on B.C.
time. That means people in eastern Canada will have to wait exactly
half an hour longer to get the results.
Mr. Don Boudria: No, it's the other way around.
Mr. John Solomon: If you're changing the time in Vancouver and
going from 7 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. as closing time—
Mr. Don Boudria: It means you either have a blackout period for
B.C. for half an hour, or you make all the polls elsewhere in Canada
close half an hour later.
Mr. John Solomon: I understand the implications of an amendment.
There'd be other amendments subsequent to that with respect to the
Mr. Don Boudria: That's what I'm saying.
Mr. John Solomon: That wouldn't be a big deal, would it—
Mr. Don Boudria: What time do they close now in Newfoundland?
Mr. John Solomon: —unless you lifted the blackout? I think the
blackout should be lifted anyway.
Mr. Don Boudria: It's 9.30 p.m. right now in Newfoundland. If you
change it by half an hour, you'll have polls closing at—
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: Eastern time is—
Mr. Don Boudria: Eastern time is 9—
Ms. Isabelle Mondou: It's Quebec.
Mr. Don Boudria: Okay. In Quebec and Ontario it's 9.30 p.m. right
now. That would mean the polls would close at 10 p.m., plus you'd
have to add to that an hour or an hour and a half to count. For every
bit you move it there's a side effect. I think it would be a major
By the way, the three hours can be given at either end of the day.
That makes a difference, although not everyone knows it causes that.
It doesn't mean the employer has to actually give three hours. It
means three hours have to be left for the person to vote.
In other words, someone may start working at 11 a.m. and work until 7
p.m. If the three hours are there in the morning, the employer may
not have to give him any time off. He's not obliged to do so by law.
It doesn't say the employer must give three hours off at the end of
the day. It means the person voting must have three hours available
to him or her in which they can go to vote. The three hours have to
be consecutive. In other words, the employer can't say you have an
hour for lunch and then give you one hour at the end of the day and
one in the morning. That doesn't work. They have to be consecutive.
Mr. John Solomon: Thank you.
The Chair: Okay. On the final issue, subject to whatever the
minister may add, Mr. White has a question relating to the polling
stations in provincial correctional institutions. Do you want to put
Mr. Ted White: Yes. This is a totally non-partisan issue, Mr.
Minister. It could be complicated, and you may have the resources to
resolve this. I certainly don't, and I don't think any others around
the table do. It's around clauses 255 and 256.
We had a witness yesterday, Mr. Gerald Chipeur, who's a lawyer. He
made some comments about safety and the intimidating surroundings of a
prison. You can see those clauses mention setting up a polling
station in the prison and also say, “a Canadian citizen may represent
a registered party during the taking of the votes.”
Mr Chipeur's suggestion was that in the interests of safety for
everybody concerned, it would be better if prisoners voted by mail
only. We've put provisions in the act to quite properly protect women
who may be living in shelters and other people who would be subject to
dangerous situations. Mr. Chipeur, as a lawyer who works with
criminals all the time, said it's terribly intimidating, even for
himself, to be in a prison environment. There's a very tiny risk of
danger, but he feels it's not right to subject people to that, and we
should consider making voting by mail only for prisoners.
I would ask you, respectfully, to look at that. I think it is a
serious issue and worthy of consideration.
Mr. Don Boudria: I've been informed that there have been no
problems reported to the Chief Electoral Officer. I'd like to check
it again. If there have been problems of that nature, I'm prepared to
look at the issue, but if there has never been even a complaint about
it, it would be perhaps unnecessary to do it. We're certainly willing
to check with the Chief Electoral Officer to determine whether that
course of action is necessary.
Mr. Ted White: As I said in good faith, it's a non-partisan issue.
Mr. Don Boudria: Of course.
Mr. Ted White: It struck me as something we should be concerned
about. If the Chief Electoral Officer is satisfied there's no risk
and everything works well—
Mr. Don Boudria: He hasn't previously indicated there is one, but
that doesn't mean it shouldn't be looked at, so we will.
Mr. Ted White: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Is there anything you wish to add, Mr. Minister?
Mr. Don Boudria: I just want to take the opportunity to thank
again all members of the committee for their hard work on this. It is
somewhat painstaking. It's a long bill and there's been hard effort
on the part of everybody.
Everyone, from what I'm told, has made suggestions that have been
very useful. They've allowed us to improve the bill. Of course, prior
to that members also worked very hard in preparing the parliamentary
committee report, which is the basis of this bill. Again, everyone did
Through you, Mr. Chairman, I'd also like to indicate my appreciation
to all the witnesses who testified before your committee. They have
helped us make what will hopefully be better legislation, to ensure
that the widest number of Canadians possible can participate freely in
the democratic franchise. I'm very pleased with everyone's
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Minister.
It being 6.37 p.m., we'll adjourn until tomorrow morning when we
begin clause-by-clause consideration. Our start time may be slightly
after 10 a.m. Your chair may be in the House for routine proceedings
at that point. It will be approximately 10.15 a.m., if colleagues are