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Liberals Seek Less Debate, More Money

Posted on Thursday, June 12 at 01:48 by polemarch1

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Ted White, a Canadian Alliance MP, called the amendment by Don Boudria, the Government House leader, outrageous, arguing the $1.50 subsidy was already too high.
"He wants to adopt this stage rapidly so that we can move on to third reading and get this thing pushed through the House, presumably so that he can go home on Friday," Mr. White said.
"But we can just tell by his demeanour he cannot wait to get his shovel into the public treasury and start loading the cash into the Liberal coffers so that they can pay for their day-to-day operations."
Dick Proctor, an NDP MP, also questioned Mr. Boudria's amendment, given that Mr. Boudria has insisted for months that the $1.50 formula would replace the lost corporate money dollar for dollar.
"The price of democracy has risen over the weekend," said Mr. Proctor.
Elections Canada has estimated that based on 2000 election results, the $1.50 subsidy would bring the Liberals $8-million in funding. The increase to a $1.75 subsidy would raise that amount by about $1.3-million.
Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, who had threatened to call a snap election unless Liberal MPs towed the line on the legislation, yesterday defended the bill, considered a key part of his legacy agenda.
"It was discussed in committee and we have received recommendations by the members of the committee that will lead to some increase in their contribution. But in doing that it will make all the political parties less dependent on contributions from the industrial sector. So more public contribution to meet the requirements of every party is a very small price to pay in order to have a very substantial reform of political financing," he said.
Last month, a Liberal Senator said unions and companies will fatten lobbying budgets on Parliament Hill with the money previously spent on political contributions. Serge Joyal, a member of the Senate rules committee, which has been studying the cap on union and corporate donations, said the $17-million contributed each year to federal political parties would not suddenly disappear.
"That money will try to find a channel somewhere. And if I were a lobbyist, I would see that as an opportunity to get more customers. That money is substantial," he said last month
Yesterday, Mr. Chrétien also dismissed claims from the opposition that the legislation will benefit the Liberals most because the funding formula is based on the last election. "It benefits the parties that get people to vote for them," he said. "It is done everywhere like that. It depends on the people vote that way. And when they vote for your party, you get more than if they don't vote for your party."
Opposition House leaders say the government has indicated it would like their support to adjourn the Commons on Friday as opposed to June 20, the final date on the parliamentary calendar.
Mr. Boudria introduced amendments to C-24 yesterday in the Commons and asked that they be accepted quickly to allow the bill to pass this week. However, opposition MPs raised a series of objections throughout the day, arguing more work is required on the legislation.
Late yesterday, Mr. Boudria gave official notice of the government's intention to close debate, meaning the bill will likely come to a final vote tomorrow after three straight days of debate. The government amendments to the bill implement some of the demands made recently by the Liberal caucus.
The changes were part of the "consensus" announced last month by Stan Keyes, the national chairman of the Liberal caucus, while Mr. Chrétien was out of the country. However, the Commons Speaker struck down two amendments yesterday put forward by Roger Gallaway, an Ontario Liberal MP, that were also part of the caucus consensus. Mr. Gallaway had requested the limit on donations from corporations be raised from $1,000 to $5,000.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly denied requests from the Liberal caucus, as well as Liberal party executives, to increase the limit on corporate donations. Stephen LeDrew, the Liberal party president, called the ban on donations "dumb as a bag of hammers."
Jacques Saada, a Liberal MP who chaired a special Liberal caucus on the legislation, said yesterday that while many MPs want more changes, the majority are willing to accept the Prime Minister's compromise.

Note: Source: CanWest News Service

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