The PPP's Visit To Ottawa
March 12, 2008
To: The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Topic: Review of the Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act
Dear Madam Chair and Members of the Committee,
What you are about to hear today you have already heard but did not understand. Now it is time to listen again.
Do you realize today what we have heard a short time ago from the leader of the Liberal Party, Mr. Stéphane Dion? He has not realized what he has said, which impacts all of Canada. Actually, we believe that none of you realize what he has said. I ask you to recall his words. They are powerful, even though they seem like nothing. To paraphrase, he said…If I had money, I and my party could be powerful, but since I have no money at the moment, we are very weak. Is this an honest attitude that can benefit the poor? When a leader argues that without money he can’t get anywhere, we have proof that the system is not honest in Canada. We are being shown the example that it is with money that we win. Money has become more important than the actuality of the people working together with you. Today, there are two choices: money or no money. Why do we continue to waste time for our people?
Again, Mr. Layton of the N.D.P. has been heard to announce publicly through the media that it was hardly possible for his party to win a majority of the seats, ever, and govern Canada. Yes, we agree with him. He can see the impossibility of the situation and that there is no balance. Today we are stating this clearly, that there is no balance. There is no equality for all people. We are not suggesting communism, socialism or any other ideology here. We are not bringing forward any notion of dictatorship or force within the notion of equality. We are emphasizing true happiness for all Canada’s people, through a system of balance. And now the question is, how do we get balance? Are we really ready to bring balance between the rich and the poor?
We have read from the transcript of the meeting between your committee and Mr. Marc Mayrand, the Chief Electoral Officer of Elections Canada, his feelings that everything is working well within the amended Act. There is no doubt that there have been very beneficial changes in the areas of candidate requirements and putting tighter controls on contributions to registered parties. It is still questionable, however, that one can leave any amount of money to a party in one’s final will. Does this help maintain balance, or continue to create party advantage?
Despite the fact that a new party may have followed all the rules, formed their executive, developed their policies, and obtained membership requirements, the rules make it very challenging for a party to exist. It is understandable that so many small parties disappear due to lack of funds. An eligible party is not a fully registered party until there is a candidate on a ballot at election time. Until that time, if the party receives any donations, it is not allowed to issue any receipts for income tax purposes. In this grey area of development, it is the goodwill and ‘free’ donations of individual members that keep the party going. It’s a David and Goliath scenario when considering the development of new parties.
As an eligible party, we were invited to participate in a meeting to allocate minutes of broadcast time during an election, on October 12, 2006. If the parties who were present at the meeting could not reach consensus as to the way total broadcast time of 6.5 hours was divided, the arbitrator would have the final decision. When the vote was taken, 10 out of the 15 parties voted for equal air-time for all the parties, that is, a total of 26 minutes each, that they would be allowed to purchase. The larger parties voted for staying with the way minutes were normally parceled out and did not see the need for change. Because there was no definitive consensus, the arbitrator made the final decision and reverted to the status quo. Thus, the Conservatives can now purchase 99.5 minutes of broadcast time at an election, the Liberals 86 minutes, the N.D.P. 47 minutes, the Bloc Quebecois, 39.5 minutes, the Green party, 23.5 minutes, and so on. Our party can purchase 6 minutes. When the arbitrator was asked about the cap on advertising spending, he snickered and acknowledged that the reality was that if you had enough money, you could buy as much advertising as you wanted. In a telephone call to the arbitrator, Mr. Grant, December 11, 2006, he revealed to us that realistically, it was only the larger parties that could afford to buy the advertising anyway. The conclusion to this is that when an election is called and we are fully registered, our allowable minutes of broadcast time do not change until the next election, since allocation of minutes is based on the percentage of popular votes gained in the previous election, as well as the number of seats the party has in the House of Commons.
Again, there is no balance in the most basic right at election time: the right for the public to be given information and make informed choices. It is little wonder that there is voter apathy. The public gets to listen most often to the party that had the biggest impact in the previous election. How is this fair, or even democratic? It is clear that throughout the years, a snowball effect gets put in motion. It is not necessarily the goodness of a party that keeps it in power. It is the money.
But now, we ask you again…what about the needs of the people? What are we, as leaders modeling for people? Balance? To quote from the Figuero decision, which promoted this amendment of the Act to come into force:
In a democracy, sovereign power resides in the people as a whole and each citizen must have a genuine opportunity to take part in the governance of the country through participation in the selection of elected representatives.
On a most basic level, citizens do not have a genuine opportunity to make an informed choice as they are not given a fair overview of all the candidates and thus cannot make an informed selection. Choice becomes determined on the basis of the most powerful advertising.
The foundation of this Act is totally flawed because it really doesn’t have balance at its heart.
You have given us an hour of your time. We ask you to think about this for twenty minutes. When you have learned after thinking, what will you do? We would like you to tell us what we should do now. Should we talk together? Can we learn together? Time is running out. We believe we can do something together. We cannot move forward in a true way, to develop our best potential as a nation without balance – without working together to achieve strength.We seek balance and honesty for this country. We have written to the Queen to help Canada regain its balance. The Queen is aware of our requests and the need for us to clean our country, for all nationalities to work together, everyone, for the rich and comfortable, for the poor and desperate. We have asked her this: when we shake hands, what does it mean? It is not about money. A handshake is about balance, evenness, honesty. If we are not honest inside ourselves, we should not be in leadership. As a government, you operate within the principal of the ‘Honour of the Crown’ in cases involving our now most impoverished people. We have asked the Queen to help us restore this honour of Her name by truly working with Her First People and all people of Canada – together. Canada is in the middle now – it is between the original people on one side…our ‘have-nots,’ and our elite…the wealthy generations, on the other side. Today, we see the scales tipping more with the rapid growth of those who have less and less. But we believe, with a change of heart, Canada can bring these two sides to evenness. She can achieve balance. That is why we are here. We are here to see what we can do about imbalance. Some people still believe in balance. Some are still waiting from that original handshake. Some are still hopeful. When it is exactly the same for ‘one’ as for the ‘other’, then there is honesty. Then we can be strong together.
If we have come here today to gain money for ourselves, it is no better than anything that has ever come before. We need to look at things differently now, if we are to return balance to our country and our world.
Thank you in the name of the Queen of our country. Thank you for the opportunity to address this committee of Senators of Canada. Our working together is more important than money. We shake hands with you and look forward to building new understandings together.
Your Representative for the People's Political Power Party of Canada
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