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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue 13 - Evidence, June 18, 2003

OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 18, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-24, to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act (political financing), and Bill C-39, to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowance Act and the Parliament of Canada Act (clause-by-clause); and met this day at 3:30 p.m. to give consideration to the bills.

Senator George J. Furey (Chairman) in the Chair.


The Chairman: Honourable senators, as you will have noticed from the agenda sent out, we intend to deal with two pieces of legislation today. We will begin today's meeting by continuing to hear witnesses on Bill C-24. Once we have finished with witnesses on C-24, we will proceed to clause-by-clause on Bill C-39.

Our first witness on Bill C-24 is Mr. Aaron Freeman, who represents the group Democracy Watch. We will then hear from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives represented by Mr. Stewart-Patterson, and finally we will hear from officials of the Privy Council office, Ms. Michèle René de Cotret and Mr. Stéphane Perrault.

Our first witness is Mr. Freeman. He is a board member of Democracy Watch and chair of the Money and Politics Coalition.

Mr. Aaron Freeman, Board Member and Chair of the Money in Politics Coalition, Democracy Watch: Democracy Watch has been quite active on the issue of making Canada's political fundraising rules more transparent and democrat. Since we began approximately 10 years ago, 50 organizations from across Canada have endorsed our recommendations in this area. This is the fourth time that I have appeared before a parliamentary committee on this issue, and I am pleased to see a strong willingness on the part of the government to address the long standing need for reform in this area.

We are by no means alone in advocating the need to address electoral finance reform. Our coalition includes women's groups, environmental organizations, health organizations, labour organizations, community economic development groups and many others.

The Lortie commission identified many of the problems addressed in this bill in 1991. They have been raised in a series of annual reports from the Chief Electoral Officer since then. While we believe there are still areas in need of reform, Democracy Watch supports Bill C-24 in its current form and urges the quick passage of it.

An effective electoral finance law must do at least three things: It must provide for full disclosure of all political donations so that a dollar donated is a dollar disclosed. It must provide reasonable limits on how much can be donated. A line must be established between what is a reasonable contribution to the democratic process and what is an attempt to gain undue access or influence. It must place a reasonable limit on election expenses in order to ensure that running for office is affordable and accessible for most Canadians.

I would like to touch on each of these areas. In the area of disclosure, Bill C-24 closes some of the loopholes in the disclosure regime, including donations to riding associations, leadership races and nomination races. However, to ensure that the money that flows through these loopholes is not simply diverted in through other loopholes, two weaknesses should be addressed in the future.

The first is trust funds. These include any fund that is controlled by a candidate or MP. Some have argued that this loophole has already been closed because donations from these funds will be disclosed under Bill C-24. However, the funds could still be used for personal purposes such as vacations, retirement and could pay for fundraisers and other expenses indirectly relating to a campaign. We feel this loophole should be closed in the codes of conduct for MPs and Senators, which are currently being drafted in the Senate and the House.

The second area is identifiers. They are important because they make it possible to know the true identity of a donor. While he now have address as an identifier on each donation, the disclosure system is still missing key identifiers such as employer, corporate affiliation — for example, if the donor is a member of a board or an executive — and, in the case of a company or an organization, the parent company. These identifiers are included in the U.S. system and would make it easier to tell if companies are trying to illegally funnel donations through their employees.

The second area I would like to discuss is limits on contributions. Bill C-24 places a limit of $5,000 on all individual contributions and has a partial band on donations from corporations, unions and other organizations. While we support these provisions in principle, we feel that a future review of the law should consider bringing these limits down even further. First, $5,000 is beyond what is affordable for the average Canadian. Quebec and Manitoba have complete bands on corporate and union contributions and an individual donation limit of $3,000.

The second reason for bringing down the limit is to discourage companies and unions from illegally funnelling donations through their employees. With a low enough individual limit, the company trying to do this would have to involve a huge number of employees, and the more people involved in such a scheme, the greater the chances of getting caught, which a few companies would be willing to risk.

We feel the $1,000 limit on corporate and union contributions is not excessive. However, this measure will likely create headaches for donors, local agents and Elections Canada officials. As noted by MPs reviewing the bill in the other place, they will be using dollars to chase nickels to try to determine whether corporations with multi-subsidiaries, franchises or unincorporated associations have been adhering to the limit. We believe time will show that it would have made more sense to do away with corporate and union donations entirely and have only individuals eligible to make donations, as is the case in the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba.

The third area in need of reform is expense limits. Bill C-24 provides new limits on nomination races, which we strongly support, but new limits should also apply to leadership races, the winners of which are generally in positions far more powerful than those who win nomination races.

Bill C-24 would also include polling and research costs in the definition of election expenses. This too is long overdue, but using this as a justification, the bill would increase the party expense limit by roughly $1 million. This would encourage a spiralling of election costs and strengthen the hand of the governing party, since it is generally the only party that spends close to the maximum national limit of roughly of $14 million. We feel expense limits should be reduced with a commensurate increase in free broadcast time for parties to make up the difference.

Finally, I would touch on the public financing provisions. Democracy Watch supports public financing, but we believe there should be a balance. Under Bill C-24, every dollar in corporate and high-end donor that is taken out of the political finance system is more than replaced with a publicly financed dollar.

We believe political finance reform should encourage the parties to broaden the base of their support. Without doing anything to expand their supporters, each of the major parties will come out further ahead than under the current system, giving little incentive to broaden their base.

Bill C-24 will change the way money moves in an election, and as a result will change the flow of power in federal politics in favour of parties and party leaders and away from individual MPs and candidates. The bulk of the new public financing is directed at parties who will also have their expense limits raised so the parties will become even more dominant as players in an election.

Parties will also be better able to subsidize candidates and play favourites with those who have best toed the party line. This power dynamic is reinforced by the requirement to register riding associations, since the party leaders will have the power to do this much like they currently have the power to sign nomination papers. Based on the coming year's experience with this act, parliament should consider reviewing the public financing provisions with a view to their effect on this power dynamic.

In conclusion, Democracy Watch feels that many of the reforms in Bill C-24 are long overdue and that the bill should be passed quickly. We also hope that the effects of the bill are reviewed following the next election to consider closing the remaining loopholes and examining the effects of the public financing provisions.

Suggesting that we wait to study this issue further, is a lot like saying we should wait for more research on nicotine addiction before deciding whether to quit smoking. The most significant reason for making these changes and making them now is that Canadians have a right to know who is bankrolling their political process and to have a democratic system where the influence of money and the potential for conflict of interest is minimized.

Senator Beaudoin: Yesterday I raised the question of the trust. It not is defined in the statute as such, but the lawyer who accompanied Mr. Kinsley told us that they rely on the definition given by the courts and by the other statutes. They came to the conclusion that everything is fine.

Is that your point of view? Some people raise that question, but the answer was very clear-cut yesterday? What do you think?

Mr. Freeman: The explanation of the government and the Chief Electoral Officer is that when money moves from a trust fund into a campaign fund, it is covered by the act. The limits would apply and the disclosure requirements would apply.

However, what happens when the trust fund does not pay directly for an election expense? What happens when a trust fund pays for an MP's retirement, the children's tuition or any personal expenses? That is the clear-cut area where trust funds would not fall under this act. Nothing in this act would prevent those sorts of trust funds from taking in unlimited money in a secret way and spending it in those ways.

That addresses the clear-cut expenses. There is also a large grey area: What happens when a trust fund pays for the costs of a fundraiser in between elections — not during an election period. One could argue that it is a campaign expense and should be disclosed. We do not really have a history in this country of erring on the side of disclosure under this act. Therefore, it is conceivable that parties or individual MPs would not declare that as an expense.

There is a whole set of examples that are clear that would not be covered by this legislation and that is personal expenses, retirement. Then there is grey area. Given the balance that they have achieved in this legislation, it is our view that this should be covered under the codes of conduct because these are gifts. They are monies given for the personal benefit of the Member of Parliament. That is where it should be dealt with.

Down the road when they review this legislation we may not have a code — this is the seventh attempt that we have made of passing the code of conduct so it may happen or may not. If it does not happen at that point we might want to consider an amendment down the road of the Elections Act to include it.

Senator Beaudoin: As it is in the bill, you are satisfied with the drafting?

Mr. Freeman: I am satisfied that the phrase ``trust fund'' does not appear in the bill even once. This bill does not deal with trust funds at all. It deals with trust funds only if money is moved from a fund into a campaign fund.

Senator Bryden: How is your organization funded?

Mr. Freeman: We are funded primarily through individual donations of Canadians. Most of these donations are small. Our average donation is $55 per donor. We do get some foundation money for specific projects that we undertake. We do not solicit money from the corporate sector or from government, the exception to that is we receive grants for summer interns once in a while.

Senator Bryden: Do you receive any corporate money?

Mr. Freeman: No, we do not.

Senator Bryden: Any union money?

Mr. Freeman: No, we do not. One exception is that we have a coalition on community reinvestment and a nominal amount of money — I think it is less than $100 — is contributed by the Canadian Labour Congress. I am not a staff person with the organization, but I can look into that. There are 120 organizational members of the coalition and some of those members do pay a nominal amount of money. I can get you those figures if you are interested.

Senator Bryden: I think you indicated that you are representing a significant number of organizations?

Mr. Freeman: Yes, 50 organizations have endorsed the recommendations that we have made in this area.

Senator Bryden: How did you go about getting the endorsement? Was there a poll of the membership of the organizations?

Mr. Freeman: When we began our work on this campaign in 1998, we contacted each of these organizations by e- mail and by phone. We spoke with their representatives. We had discussions with them to formulate our recommendations. Once they were developed — this was over a period of six months — we had each of them endorse them in writing.

Senator Bryden: A long with the other information, could you send us a list of those organizations?

Mr. Freeman: Yes. Our Web site address was forwarded to the clerk, and on that Web site is a list of the organizations that have endorsed the principles.

Senator Bryden: Could you give us the names of the foundations that fund your organization?

Mr. Freeman: I do not think we are currently receiving any foundation money. In the past, we have received money from the Trillium Foundation and the Atkinson Foundation. I would have to get you a list. There are not very many beyond that.

Senator Andreychuk: You have pointed out some dilemmas with the bill. However, on the whole you are saying you are going to pass it.

How do you address the concern that some people have said that they knew some of the loopholes and they will be closed here, but what it will do is drive people who wished not to be transparent into more creative giving and the use of trust funds into more creative sources. You will not give money directly to the MP or the riding association at the time, but there is a host of things you can do to support a party and its objectives by doing indirectly what you can no longer do directly. How do you answer that?

Mr. Freeman: I am not convinced that we are going to have a perfect system that is going to attract every dollar. There are always going to be people who will try to get around the rules.

The point of the legislation has to be to take it in a direction that is more transparent and more accountable rather than the current situation, which is almost by design the opposite. It makes it easier under the current system to donate under the table than it is through the disclosed system.

This act goes a long way in that direction. There is anti-avoidance provision in the act that prevents you from doing through the back door what is prohibited through the front door — for example, funnelling donations through employees or by other means. For example, if a pollster carries out polls and then hands it to the party, that would be considered a contribution. You may not always catch all of these people doing this; you can do your best. You can create a system that makes it difficult to do that and makes the penalties and the likelihood of getting caught such that most donors would not risk doing it.

One way to do that is to bring the individual limit down. I am not convinced that this is a huge problem. People raised this under the Quebec system and in 25 years, there has been no evidence that abuse occurs on any significant scale. You would think that in 25 years some evidence would have occurred. None exists beyond conjecture.

Even if you are convinced that there is a serious problem, there is an easy way to deal with it. You have the anti- avoidance provision. You bring the limit down so that if the company wants to do it, it is difficult. They have to involve a huge number of people. Someone is going to talk at some point. They have to convince the recipient that the donation from all these individuals is actually from the company. You have to compensate the employees and take into account the income tax considerations. It becomes so cumbersome that it is not worth it. It is not worth the risk of getting caught. I think that is probably the way you deal with a lot of the ways in which donors would try to hide their donations.

Senator Andreychuk: Do you support the NDP position that there should be a complete ban of corporate and union donations?

Mr. Freeman: We do support that position. I believe that is the position of the Bloc and the NDP, and even some of the Liberal members in the house were supporting that position for two reasons: One is that a corporation does not exist to support the political process. When it donates to the political process, it is generally spending other people's money. It is the same situation with the union. Often they are spending it in a way that their shareholders or members do not even support. You have got a situation that there is no natural reason why corporations should be donating. They do not vote, and for them to be participating in the political process this way does not make any sense to me.

There is a very practical reason and that is corporate donations make it easier to hide donations. You can donate through multiple subsidiaries, shell corporations and through executives. It would be a simpler system if you just had individuals donating.

The final reason is you have got a bookkeeping problem. You have a $1,000 cap. I do not know how many franchises MacDonald's has across the country, but I know some of them are controlled by head office and some of them are not. Does a $1,000 donation from a franchise get included in head office's tally or not? There will situations where people are inadvertently and innocently on the wrong side of the act —maybe not inadvertently. It will be complicated for the donors, for local agents, most of whom are volunteers and it is going to be difficult for Elections Canadian officials to try to keep track of all of this.

Senator Andreychuk: Your organization is called ``Democracy Watch.'' You said that this act would concentrate more power in the Prime Minister and less in the backbenchers. This is of great concern to a lot of Canadians; that there is more concentration away from your elected representative into the concentration of the Prime Minister and his office. Yet, you are supporting a bill that, by your admission, will strengthen the Prime Minister's hand and leaders' hands. How do you square that with Democracy Watch?

Mr. Freeman: It is a difficult issue. We have debated this issue at length and not just this issue. There are weaknesses with this legislation. At the end of the day, the disclosure provision makes it more difficult to donate under the table. The disclosure provisions, the limits on donations and the other provisions in the bill are so important in our view that the bill is worth supporting even with its weaknesses. We also feel that some of those weaknesses can be dealt with down the road.

Senator Joyal: Mr. Freeman, you quoted in your brief the Lortie report. I would like to quote something from the report. It is from the first volume. It is page 232. I quote:

Parties must assign most organizational tasks to party officers and paid staff. For the larger parties, their goals are primarily electoral — winning office. For others, such as the Christian Heritage Party and the Greens, their goals lie much more in promoting certain values, and in the long run, raising the consciousness of the Canadian public. In these respects, these new parties are much like the CCF in its early days.

I understand the five registered parties that are recognized in the House of Commons. As you know there are 11 registered parties. The six additional ones are the smaller parties — what the Lortie report described as those parties that are more interested in promoting values than in trying to form government.

In presentation, you referred to parties that will become even more dominant as players. I understand from what I read in the report that those will be the larger parties. I am concerned that the six other parties — those which promote values that are nevertheless registered under the acts — will not be admitted or will not receive any funding in replacement of money that they might lose or not be able to raise, according to the framework of the legislation, because it is now capped.

For example, let us take the Canadian Action party. In 2001, they have raised, according to the Chief Electoral Officer's Web site, $43,024. If Bill C-24 is adopted with the threshold formula — which you know as 435.01, you need to have at least 2 per cent of the votes in total or 5 per cent in ridings — that party, would have been able to raise this year only $31,024. In other words, that party would have lost $12,000, according to the stats of their contribution received and declared in 2001. That could not be replaced by access to public funding.

If you are Democracy Watch, and you recognize that according to this bill parties will become more dominant, you should have had the preoccupation to strengthen all of the parties. As you said, if we are to strengthen the leadership of the five larger parties, we should be at the same time concerned about strengthening the capacity of smaller parties to take part in the democratic process. I think promoting values such as those of the Christian Heritage Party, Green Party, the Canadian Action party or any of those smaller parties is part of the dynamic of the democratic process in Canada.

Do you not agree that this in the proposed legislation is something that should be addressed and that you would be concerned with it?

Mr. Freeman: My understanding of the Green Party position on this bill is they also support the public financing provisions because if you cross this threshold of 2 per cent, you are entitled to public financing provisions based on $1.75 per vote received in the previous election.

For any of the small parties to cross that small threshold of 2 per cent, they would have to be in receipt of more money than they have ever risen. I have not worked out the numbers, but I would guess $2 million if you had 2 per cent of the voters, which is more money than any of the smaller parties have raised, which they would be receiving as an annual subsidy.

It is a balancing. Can we come up with a better more democratic scenario for public financing? Absolutely. I can come up with one right now. It is the Mexican system. It is a full system of public financing. Seventy per cent of the subsidy is based on the proportion of the popular vote like our system. Thirty per cent is split equally amongst all the registered parties. If you qualify to be a party, you are entitled to a certain chunk. It is not as big a chunk if you won 40 per cent of the popular vote, but as long as you qualify as a party, you are entitled to a portion of that.

We do have that in a sense because there is a tax credit and there is an expense reimbursement. All parties and all candidates — provided they meet certain criteria — are eligible for those subsidies. The smaller parties are not without public financing support. Yes, the bulk of the public financing is dependant on a party reaching that 2 per cent national threshold or 5 per cent in the ridings in which they are running candidates.

Senator Joyal: The total votes of the six small parties that are currently registered according to the act represent 235,000 voters in Canada. It is a quarter of a million voters and more. Those people are disfranchised in terms of party funding, while in fact they have to submit themselves exactly as the other parties to the framework of the legislation.

I am not opposed to the framework of the legislation. I am just saying that when you devise a system for registered parties and you impose a framework — that is you bar people from having access to a certain level of financing — which is fair and with which I agree, you have to make sure that the smaller parties will not be treated unjustly under the system.

According to the figures on the Web site of the Chief Electoral Officer, the same framework applies in 2001, which is the last year for statistics available, would have deprived them from $12,000 of receipt. Of course, $12,000 is not a big amount of money for larger parties, but when you are a small party and you raise $43,000, $12,000 is a lot of money. That is almost one-third of your budget. That is why I think that it is important that revisit some of those provisions when we review the legislation after the next election. It is fair game to have a system that works equally for everybody if we want to be serious when we implement it. I think we were serious when we wanted to implement the proposal in this bill. I do not quarrel at all with this bill.

Take your own group, Democracy Group, for example. It is not a big group in terms of membership and budget. When your other spokesperson holds a press conference, it is in all of the papers. You are completely covered at a press conference when you denounce something. You are not a big organization, but you have access to public opinion. It is the same with those small parties. They are not big parties, but they have access to public opinion and they are a part of the democratic process of forming public opinion, of training public opinion in Canada. That is why I think it is an important element of democracy.

Senator Pearson: There is something interesting in this bill, which comes from a different perspective. Now the young person who is living in Rosedale and votes for the Green Party and sees their vote lost will have an incentive for voting because their vote is going to be counted on the whole country in terms of getting the numbers of votes to get this threshold. I think it is a positive step of an incentive to the small parties to get out and get more members so that they can bring their membership up to the threshold.

Mr. Freeman: The Green Party is a good example because they are hovering around 2 per cent of the polls.

Senator Smith: I do not want to get into a big debate with you. I do support this bill. I am not saying it is perfect in every aspect, but I think the broad policy objectives are very desirable.

I just cannot resist asking you to share your views, as a spokesperson for Democracy Watch, as to the desirability of the Senate amending a bill that does not really affect us. It affects us in a theoretical sense as Canadians, yes, but it does affect us in the direct way that it affects the Commons. This bill was debated at length. It went through by almost three to one with three of the five parties supporting it.

I am curious; is there not a touch of irony that Democracy Watch is here urging the Senate to hold up at the moment and charge around with a bill that did pass the Commons by a clear majority?

Mr. Freeman: I am advocating passage of the bill. I am not clear on what you are asking?

Senator Smith: It is not going pass this summer if we start making amendments.

Mr. Freeman: I am advocating passage of the bill.

Senator Smith: You did not ask for any amendments?

Mr. Freeman: No.

Senator Smith: I thought he did. I apologize.

The Chairman: It is probably a good time to thank you for taking the time to come and share your thoughts with us.

Our next witness is Mr. Stewart-Patterson. He is executive Vice-President of Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

Mr. David Stewart-Patterson, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Council of Chief Executives: I think this is a bill that addresses an issue that is important because it gets at the issue of public trust in the political process. Any perception that donations to political parties — whether from individuals or from corporations — somehow buy inappropriate access or improperly influence public policy, undermines public trust in both government and business. To the extent that you believe that those perceptions exist, it is important to deal with them.

I am not in a position to reflect a consensus amongst the members of the Council of Chief Executives. Rather, my comments will be based on a survey of our members that we did in January, prior to the introduction of Bill C-24. What I say to you essentially reflects my assessment of the balance of opinion among the business leaders that make up our leadership. I ask you to keep that in mind as we get into a discussion.

Let me offer you a few of the key findings of the survey. There was close to a consensus on two important principles. The first has to do with transparency. Ninety per cent of the responses to our survey supported total disclosure of all contributions in cash or in kind to parties, to riding associations and to leadership campaigns.

The second issue on which we had a 90 per cent positive response was in respect of the principle that the primary source of support for political parties should be voluntary donations. I think there is strong support among business leaders for what Bill C-24 does to improve transparency. However, there are some significant doubts about the extent to which it may reduce accountability by shifting financing away from voluntary donations and towards taxpayer donations based on formulated subsidies. As Mr. Freeman pointed other, there are implications in the way that the subsidies have been set up which may tend towards a centralization of power, as opposed to increasing public engagement. That might be a source of concern upon which you might want to reflect.

A couple of the other survey responses tend to reinforce those two primary principles. Two-thirds of the members supported a reasonable limit on personal and corporate donations — which we defined in our survey question as between $1,000 and $10,000 a year —the lower limit of which was the one that was introduced for the corporate side, while the $10,000 was the initial limit proposed for individual donations. I think our definition and the responses to it still reflect the realities of the bill and would still apply.

Two-thirds of those responding also supported the idea of expanding the political contribution tax credit as a means of reinforcing public support. However, support would be tied to voluntary donations. Approximately 80 per cent of the respondents opposed the idea of replacing the revenue being lost to political parties from individual and corporate donations with subsidies that would be based on indicators such as popular support in the previous election.

While there is broad support for a reasonable cap on both individual and corporation donations, I have heard concerns about what cap might be most appropriate. I think a healthy democracy requires engagement by all sectors of society. Employers do have a role to play in their communities. There is an expectation in communities that employers will play roles — not just in the political process, but also in what we think of as of community. When things are happening in the communities, there is an expectation that the employers are going to help out.

That is why you will see if you compared corporate donations to individual donations. Corporate donors are more likely than individuals to support more than one political party. I think that is an indication of a desire to support the process in a healthy discussion at the political level than you may see expressed at the individual level.

There are some worries that the $1,000 limit may cause problems. Mr. Freeman raised some of those concerns. While $1,000 is not going to be an issue for a company that is only operating in a single riding, companies that are operating coast to coast have to split that up between 300-odd ridings. That could result in a situation where a representative of a major employer in a community cannot even buy a cup of coffee for each of the candidates in a race.

Like Mr. Freeman, I am not suggesting that you hold up for amendments at this stage. However, in terms of the discussion that we have had on this bill today, it is something that we are going to have to monitor as it goes forward to make sure that we get that right. I do not think there is a magic number here. I am not proposing an alternative, but I think we may find that a particular number does cause difficulties in implementation.

Despite the fact that it has some flaws, the goals of Bill C-24 are certainly laudable. I would suggest the test is going to be not whether the members of the House of Commons the Senate are satisfied with the bill; this test will be that once it has passed if it will be effective in persuading Canadians that they ought to and should have greater trust in the central institution of our democracy.

Senator Andreychuk: You indicated that corporations, as individuals, do not give donations to gain influence or access to political parties or political leaders. Why do they give if they do not get that? I support certain charities and works because I support them and I think they are good for our society. Therefore, it is not a question of influence; it is a question of undue influence or inappropriate influence or not the right balance of influence as opposed to other societies. However, surely part of the reason for giving is to gain some influence over what you believe is the correct course of actions in a democratic society?

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: I would agree. There is one school of thought that says that companies should not be spending their shareholders' money on purposes that are not directly related to profitability.

I have spent a great deal of time working in the area of corporate philanthropy and building the business case for why companies should be engaged in their communities. If you look at the scale of activities, the major corporate donors to political parties are probably in the tens or hundreds of thousands dollars in a year. Those same companies are probably dealing with charitable donations that are in the millions or perhaps in the tens of millions. The scale of political donations within that sphere of community engagement is small. I cannot reflect small businesses here. I am reflecting my experience with major companies that are within the council's membership.

My sense is that amongst the major companies that we represent on council, the political donations are part of that sense of community engagement. When an organization that is part of making your community vibrant holds a dinner, you are expected to be there and buy a table. That applies to a political party as it would to any other organization whose existence is seen as supporting the vibrancy of the community.

Senator Bryden: I think I followed your percentages. This is the organization of which Mr. Thomas d'Aquino is President?

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: Yes.

Senator Bryden: I was interested in your comment that the bill is an endeavour to develop greater trust in our institutions and, indeed, that is needed for all kinds of our institutions. As you know, I am a lawyer and a politician and after the ENRON situation and AOL, I am seeing accountants and CEOs joining my club as among the most distrusted people in our communities.

In relation to that, the primary responsibility of a corporation and chief executive officer is to its shareholders and to make profits and significant returns for those shareholders. I find it difficult to accept that the donation of $50,000 or $100,000 by an operating corporation in Canada is being made not in the best interest of its shareholder. That is, that you donate a dollar in order to produce more than a dollar return for your shareholder. That is where the undue influence concern comes in.

How do you justify the donation in political parties that are not the same as sponsoring a bike race for the Cancer society or a marathon for the Boy's Club?

There has been a tradition of quid pro quo. You are saying if there is a table at a dinner, then as a corporation you would buy tickets. It has been my experience that one of the reasons many of those tables get sold is because they do not want to not be there as against an overpowering concern of supporting the community.

Does this bill have any affect on that attitude that has developed over the years on the corporation?

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: In respect of your second question, one of the benefits of the bill is that if it does away with those big-dollar dinners and the big cheques, it is going to deal with the perception that companies are buying influence. It may, therefore, have the beneficial effect that now if they come to the table with a policy idea, it is clear that they are getting a hearing based on what they have to say and not on the size of the cheque that they may have written in the previous year.

I do not think that the perception that money buys influence is accurate. If I look at the major donors and compare the list to some of the political issues that have come up involving those companies, I do not see a correlation between size of donation and success. I do not think those perceptions are accurate. Nonetheless, Canadians may hold those perceptions and I think this bill addresses those perceptions.

I do not know if it affects the reality in terms of how the political process is going to work. You mentioned the motivation, aside from any positive sense of wanting to contribute to the community, there is also the question of what happens if you are not there. Is it your absence rather than your presence that matters?

Those things may have an impact. By getting rid of those questions, I think the bill on balance may be helpful to the political process and public trust.

In respect of your initial point on the question of duty to shareholders, it has been pointed out to me, in another setting, that the wording of the Canada Business Corporations Act refers to a duty to the company, which is often interpreted to mean the shareholders of the company, but it is not exclusive to the shareholders. To serve the interests of the company, you have to serve the interests of shareholders, but the shareholders are not the only people involved in the company. That subject has come up in the context of corporate governance.

Senator Bryden: Is it not that the problem with a number of CEOs? They look after their own interests rather than those of the shareholders? Is it not why John Roth is rich and I am poor?

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: Senator, you have touched on the issue of corporate governance, which has been a central concern for business leaders over the last year. The Council has spent more time dealing with issues of corporate governance than we have addressing issues of public governance such as dealt with by this bill.

The issues of corporate governance are real. If you look at the extensive statement, around which we build a consensus about last year and issued in September, we got into some detailed recommendations in terms of better practices, improving corporate governance, much of which dealt with their twin principles of transparency and accountability. That is why our members seemed most strongly united around those two concepts. Transparency matters in both corporate and public governance. Transparency without accountability is not enough. That has been accepted in the area of corporate governance. I am not sure that is reflected to the extent in this bill as it stands.

Senator Bryden: I could have challenged that last statement in relation to how it compares with what is happening. We have some good voluntary suggestions going forward, but very few regulations coming out on corporate governments that are sticking.

Senator Joyal: My first question is related to your own words: ``It will be effective in greater trust.'' I wonder if by repeating that over and over, will the perception be that this bill is going to be more transparent and politicians will be more credible? I was thinking that we might be doing one of those dances where if you repeat the name of a god often enough, you begin to feel that he or she is there.

I wonder if the perception that politicians are too close to influential and powerful business people is not more a perception that is dealt with in people's mind or in public-opinion minds? Politicians like to socialize with important business people. They are an elite group in our society because they create wealth and they contribute in their world.

The impact of this bill is important, but I do not think we should endow it with a magic power. The perception in public opinion that business people influence politicians is because the politicians put themselves under conditions of being influenced. It is not the $5,000 paid for a table in a fundraising dinner where there are 2,500 people in the room that will buy the influence. Is the issue of influence on politicians one that the politicians themselves have created and nurtured by wanting to look and appear with business people in all kinds of circumstances and contexts?

This bill is important, but it will not cure that perception if at the same time we do not question how we politicians deal with business. This is part of a broader problem and much more complex to address by just passing legislation to cap donations at $1,000.

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: I would agree with you, senator. The bill will help but it is not magic. I have looked at this challenge in terms of the corporate governance issue and how you regain trust once there have been significant breaches of faith with investors.

There are things that can be done and are being done on the regulatory front. There are things being done through the media — focusing much more attention on these issues. There are coalitions of investors that are getting together that are becoming more active. There are all sorts of forces at work. Ultimately public trust is not going to be restored because we legislated it, regulated it, or shifted practices through shareholder votes. Ultimately one has to earn that trust back. It is going to take time no matter what you do. It is never easy to earn trust back; it is very easy to lose it.

That is the situation that we are grappling with in the business community. If I look at the longer-term trends in terms of voter participation, the institutions of our democracy have a similar problem. That is why I am happy to see these issues being addressed. We have to recognize that this is not going to be resolved by any one bill in any one year. It is a continuous process.

Senator Joyal: The Chief Electoral Officer's report indicates that in 2001, the last year for which statistics are available, contributions to parties from corporations — which is essentially your group — totalled roughly $9 million. Now with this cap of $1,000, where will that $8.5 million go later on? You will not have to spend that money next year yet you still have it available if the economy maintains its capacity. Where will they channel that money to maintain their access to decision makers?

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: What individual companies do with the money they are no longer going to be spending in terms of donations? That is going to reflect the business they are in, the communities they are in. The other things they care about. It may get shifted in with the rest of the community donations budget. It may be taken as an expense reduction — something else where we can reduce costs without affecting operations. I cannot speak for the management of any individual donor.

Senator Joyal: I cannot expect that my dividends will be higher next year?

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: One of the options is you cut costs and that will lead to higher profits to be paid out to shareholders in the short term. On the other hand, you may say there may be better ways to invest that money. Whether it comes out as a dividend or gets reinvested in the business will depend on each individual company.

Senator Joyal: You have not discussed that with your colleagues?

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: No.

Senator Hubley: You mentioned that you conducted a poll among the members of your organization that related to large donations. Do you feel that there are other ways that you would be able to donate to a party that we do not see upfront right now on the bill?

With respect to the question about what large corporations are doing with the funds that have been cut back from donations, was that one of the question you might have polled and whether there is any indication that corporations would seek other ways of contributing to political party?

Mr. Stewart-Patterson: I would doubt it. We asked our members questions of principle prior to the bill being introduced. It was before we were aware of the specifics contained in the bill. Mr. Freeman suggested there could be all sorts of complications with deliberate attempts to funnel donations. I do not see that happening. They are there because of general expectations that they are wanted there. If you do not want certain people at the table, they are not going to bother. They will find other things to do. What they choose to do with that money is going to depend on the individual company and circumstances.

The Chairman: Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this.

Our next panel witnesses are officials from Privy Council Office, Ms. Michèle René de Cotret and Mr. Stéphane Perrault.


Senator Rivest: Senator Nolin pointed out a few drafting inconsistencies in the bill between the French and English versions. I understand that the public service was asked to draft this bill, and understandably so. Nevertheless, this exercise was probably done in a bit of a rush. I examined the text more systematically and spotted many additional errors.

In some instances, the expressions vary; the translation is poor; there are parts of sentences that do not appear in the French that do in English, and vice versa. For example, look at clause 49, subsection 3(3):

Sur réception du certificat, le Receveur général verse à l'agent officiel, sur le Trésor, le montant fixé à l'alinéa (1)d) ...

The French text refers to the clause, but the English does not make any reference to it. On pages 63 and 64 of the bill, it is more or less the same thing. The English text indicates a reference, but the French text does not. In clause 46, on page 63, the researchers also spotted errors. On page 34, the paragraphs are different. There are several other cases, for example in clause 404, subsection 2, at the top of page 34, on page 32. I am not going to list them, but there are a whole series of mistakes. These are no doubt technical issues.

Currently, what is the rule when there is an inconsistency between the two texts? What does the court do under such circumstances? According to case law, in some instances, the court can use its discretionary power to choose which version appears to be more compatible with the intent of the legislation. Nevertheless, this legislative technique leaves a lot to be desired, given the number of errors. Errors can slip through. However, such a difference between the versions is suspicious.

I am not blaming the public service, because I know that you were under pressure to draft this bill which was to be part of the legacy. Sometimes things occur very quickly. However, this act will be enforced way beyond the political life of the current Prime Minister. People will have to live with this act and be responsible for its enforcement. So the French and English versions must be compatible.

Ms. Michèle René de Cotret, Senior Privy Council Officer/Counsel, Privy Council Office: Before dealing with this issue as to how the courts will interpret the legislation, I would like to make a few comments. You listed the problems on page 34 and 33, and a similar problem on page 32. In some cases, these are technical errors but slipped through the revision process. We have discussed the matter with the law clerks from the House of Commons and the Senate. Both law clerks told us that, if the Senate did not object, these specific issues could be rectified before the bill is given royal assent.

Senator Rivest: Could the Senate make an amendment?

Ms. René de Cotret: No, without amendment.

Senator Rivest: But how could the Senate give its assent?

Ms. René de Cotret: Without giving assent, you could object and say that the only way that the Senate could resolve the problem would be to make an amendment to the bill — and we are hoping that you will agree to do that.

In the case of technical errors, such as a reference to a different section in French and English, a reference in the French text to a section that does not exist, a paragraph that does not make sense in the context, your law clerks will advise you as to which corrections could be made administratively by the House of Commons and Senate law clerks.

You have pointed out other errors or potential errors. These are not necessarily mistakes in every case. Frequently, the legal drafters do not necessarily divide the French and English texts in the same way. This practice, which has been in use for a long time at the Department of Justice, is now less frequent. It can happen that there is a reference to a section or a particular paragraph in a text which is not found in the other version.

Senator Rivest: Or which does not have the same designation.

Ms. René de Cotret: Exactly.

Senator Rivest: You will nevertheless agree that it is strange that a section in the French text refers to another clause in the bill and the French text makes no reference to it.

Mr. Stéphane Perrault, Senior Privy Council Officer/Counsel, Privy Council Office: You have to determine to what extent there is a mistake. This fall, we are expecting an act that will rectify the situation, because we come across this problem in all bills. To err is human and we need to have some way to rectify the problem.

Senator Rivest: Could we agree to make corrections?


The Chairman: Senator Rivest, just for the record can you respond to Mr. Perrault's comment about the actual reference to which you referred and tell us the line?


Senator Rivest: I can quickly provide you with a list of the problems. The first series is found on pages 31, 33 and 34 of the bill, more specifically in clauses 405.1, subsection 2; 405.2, subsection 1; 405.2, subsection 2; 405.2, subsection 3; and 405.2, subsection 4, of the Elections Act. These are essentially reference mistakes


The Chairman: These are specific references between the French and the English?

Senator Rivest: Yes. That is right.

The Chairman: Would you also refer to the clauses missing?


Senator Rivest: On page 63, in clause 46, there is no mention of a reference, whereas in the English version, there is. On page 80 of the French version, the new clause 478.3(3) makes no reference to subsection 478. These are errors that both Senator Nolin and our researchers spotted. There may be others.


The Chairman: Would you provide us with a copy of that?

Senator Rivest: Yes.


On the one hand, you are saying that the Senate may decide that these amendments can be dealt with administratively with no formal amendment. On the other hand, if the Senate were to move formal amendments, the bill would be sent back to the House of Commons. Given that the House of Commons has adjourned, people will not be very happy. The leaders should decide on the best way for the Senate to intervene.

You are telling us that, at first glance, it would be possible to make technical corrections. Each caucus will therefore decide whether or not a formal amendment should be moved, and then the Senate will deal with the matter if we decide collectively to introduce formal amendments. I am leaving the question open.

Senator Beaudoin: There have been some precedents on the matter. A few years ago, we had a similar problem. We had used a technique. However, before saying yes or no, I want to be sure that there are indeed precedents. It is all well and good to say that this can be taken care of administratively, but in my opinion a law that can be amended administratively is not very strong. I think that there is a way to do this, but I would like someone to give me the precedent.

Ms. René de Cotret:I cannot quote the precedent. I have seen the e-mails that have been exchanged between the House of Commons and Senate law clerks. According to them, this type of error can be remedied administratively by the House of Commons and Senate law clerks.

Senator Beaudoin: We can give them a mandate?

Ms. René de Cotret: That is right.

Senator Beaudoin: If that is the case, we will have to make sure it is on the record. This has to appear very clearly in the Senate minutes.

Senator Rivest: Should the House of Commons be associated with the mandate given to the law clerks to proceed administratively?

Ms. René de Cotret: This is a joint agreement between the House of Commons and Senate law clerks. According to the e-mail exchange that I saw, they can do this on their own authority.

Mr. Perrault: I read the e-mails, and the law clerks can do this on their own unless the Senate advises them that it prefers to proceed in another fashion, through a motion.

Senator Joyal: In everyday jargon we call this a parchment error. There is a procedure between the two Chambers. If one Chamber notices parchment errors in a bill that was adopted in due form by the other Chamber, the Clerk has some authority to make corrections. I do not have the list of precedents before me, but we can certainly check this out with the Clerk's office to establish how the Clerk's authority will enable him to remedy the points made by Senator Rivest.

At first glance, a parchment error, by definition, is not an error pertaining to the substance, it does not change the expression of the will of the legislator of the Chamber in question. Can that cover consistency? Generally speaking, these are inconsistencies resulting from amendments that were made. There were poor interpretations. Nevertheless, we can verify in the adoption of the amendment that there was a desire to adjust the numbering of the following clauses. There are enough precedents covering interpretation to allow us to confirm what you have said and to remedy that aspect.

I cannot recall the parameters limiting the Clerk's action. Beyond that, it depends on the will of the Chamber, but I do think that a procedure exists.


The Chairman: Thank you very much, Senator Joyal. We do have the law clerk on his way here to the committee meeting and we will be hearing from the law clerk in due course.


Senator Robichaud: Several questions have been raised regarding the trusts. If we use money coming from a trust, how is this money accounted for in electoral spending or in the expenditures that a candidate, an association or a party incurs? Could you clarify the matter?

Ms. René de Cotret: The act has a provision. I will begin with the provision, in clause 405.3. It prohibits a donor from making a contribution that comes from money from another person that was provided to that person for that purpose. In another words, according to the bill, the act would prohibit someone who wants to make a contribution from doing so from money that comes from someone else.

By definition, or by quasi-definition, this money would be a trust. A trust is a group of individuals who get together to collect money for a particular purpose or a particular beneficiary. In order to transfer this money to an individual who in turn gives the money to a candidate, which is the only mechanism provided for by the act, you have to create an association. So there have to be more than one trustee of this trust, first of all, because you need an association in order to get around this prohibition provided for in the act whereby an individual cannot give a political candidate money that comes from someone else.

According to clause 405.(3) of the act, an association that makes a contribution must disclose the name, address, the amount given from each of the donors and the date on which the person made this contribution. Accordingly, this bill makes it extremely difficult to use the trust as a useful way of making contributions and concealing the name of donors.

The name of each individual trust donor must be disclosed. The contribution from the association, which may comprise the trustees of the trust, is limited to $1,000, and the contribution made by those who participated in the contribution is included in the contribution of the original donors.

From now on, no one will be able to use this mechanism to make hidden contributions to political participants in the political process.

Senator Robichaud: Finally, you refer to the contribution made by a group of individuals. Will this contribution be accounted for along with the fact that this individual may also make a personal contribution of $5,000, although the portion contributed through the association will be deducted from the $5,000?

Ms. René de Cotret: Yes, you have grasped that very well. For those people who are used to contributing to the political process and wish to do so, it becomes easier to contribute directly rather than from within an association.

However, for groups of people who, individually, can't contribute more than $5, $10 or $20 and have very little impact, it is advantageous to form this association of individuals and to contribute on behalf of the association. It should be noted, nevertheless, that each contribution of $5, $10 or $20 must include the name of the individual and the amount given when a contribution is made through an association.


Senator Lynch-Staunton: I agree that there are some inconsistencies that could be put down to parchment errors. I am not convinced yet. When the bills are being written, are they only written in one language or both languages together? What is the procedure for that?

Ms. René de Cotret: The bills are written in both official languages. There are two drafters in every bill written by the Government of Canada. The bills are each written in their respective official languages, however they say the same thing.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is an improvement recently. It is no longer a word for word translation, as long as one reflects the other. Why is it that the so-called parchment errors are in the French version rather than the English version?

Ms. René de Cotret: These errors were mistakes. We had an extraordinary French drafter and I wish it had not happened.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: We will hope for the best. We will see what our legal counsel says.

Senator Baker: Mr. Chairman, when I first looked at this bill, I leafed through it and nothing really caught my eye until I got to page 99. I was struck by something that no-one had noticed up until this point — of course things do not get really get noticed in the House of Commons, because they do not have time to look at the wording in a bill. I was shocked to see that in summary conviction offences there is a limitation of six months under the Criminal Code. The Interpretation Act of Canada says that whatever applies under the Criminal Code will apply under any act of parliament unless there is a provision in the act of parliament not to follow the six-month principle.

I forget the exact words, but it is something to the effect of ``in excessive of.'' If it is not specifically spelled out in an act of Parliament, then the Criminal Code applies. Six months; indictably, there is no extent. I am look at this bill and I am seeing seven years.

Over the years, I have noticed that we have pecked away at it in certain legislation —such as the Environmental Protection Act or the Fisheries Act — for a specific reason. If there are companies that are dumping substances into rivers, then you need time to investigate. A provision was put into those acts to give the government or the investigative agency up to two years. That is quite a stretch from the six months, because the logic behind the six months was that memories fade, people die and for summary convictions offences you do not want to be hit with a long period of time.

Under this bill, it is seven years. Seven years a politician, a company or an accountant could be charged. Seven years for a summary conviction offence. Who suggested seven years? That is beyond a term imaginable for summary conviction offences.

Ms. René de Cotret: The group who developed the policy for this bill — that is, PCO with others including Elections Canada — concluded that seven years was needed because of the application of the new limits on contributions. Under the proposed legislation, there are offences for those who make contributions greater than the limit. There are offences created for those who make contributions without the right to make them.

The first time Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Elections become aware that an offence may have been committed by a donor or a candidate who received a contribution, would be following an election when the candidate has made his or her report. An election cycle is usually four years; it can be five years. A report has to be filed and verified. Every single candidate files a report. I believe there were 1800 reports in the last election campaign. We need to look at these things — hence a seven-year period.

In addition, it is possible to obtain extensions from Elections Canada for filing these reports. For the legislation to have any teeth, they must have an appropriate period of time to see that the offence has been committed, which cannot occur until a report has been filed.

Senator Baker: There is nothing in the Canada Elections Act about any report that allows you to take seven years to file the report. There is nothing.

Mr. Perrault: For example, if a corporation gives $5,000 to a candidate in year one, the candidate would not report it until after the election — although the donation was not allowed. That could be five years down the road after the election. The contribution to a candidate is reported only after the election. Only parties and registered district associations now will prepare annual reports on their contributions. Parties will also do quarterly reports.

However, the candidates only do reports after an election. If money were received five years prior and the report is made after the election and there is an extension of the delay for the report —

Senator Baker: Why would you change it? This applies to every offence under the act. I do not follow your logic on contributions. To give someone seven years to lay a charge for a summary conviction offence is truly unheard of. Let us continue.

I would say that would be struck down, to my way of thinking, as a principle of fundamental justice. To expect a candidate of an official agent to remember what happened seven years ago would simply be an abuse of process.

I will turn now to the seven years. You stated that seven years ``must be instituted within 18 months after the day on which the Commissioner becomes aware of the facts giving rise to the prosecution and not later than seven years'' after that date.

I have a simple question. Is it a prerequisite for bringing any charge under this act that there must be proof that the commissioner was aware of the act? That proof would be either a certificate from the commissioner or the commissioner's evidence in order to bring any charges under the act.

Mr. Perrault, are you the Stéphane Perrault who appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada with the RCMP on the Delisle case?

Mr. Perrault: Yes.

Senator Baker: There you go — section 15, section 2, section 4, and section 5 — you did a very good job. You represented the Attorney General of Canada with the RCMP under the Staff Relations Act, under ``Forming Associations.'' I congratulate you on that.

Could you answer my question?

Mr. Perrault: I did play a minor role in that case.

Senator Baker: Your name is there as the representative of the Attorney General.

Mr. Perrault: Section 512 of the current Canada Elections Act, which is not being modified in this bill, states that ``No prosecution for an offence under this Act may be instituted by a person other than the Commissioner without the Commissioner's prior written consent.''

Therefore, the commissioner is not the sole person capable of instituting a prosecution but there must be written consent by the commissioner. In effect, the commissioner will be aware of every prosecution and the alleged facts that give rise to the prosecution through that provision.

Senator Baker: Let me put the question to you again. On the plain simple reading of this on page 99 of the bill, clause 63 and proposed section 514.1 of the Canada Elections Act: ``A prosecution for an offence under this act must be instituted within 18 months after the day on which the commissioner becomes aware of the facts giving rise...'' Now, a plain simple ordinary reading — a grammatical reading — of that would tell you when you could lay a charge. A charge must be laid at a certain point when ``after the commissioner became aware of the facts'' that gave rise to the charge. Is that the way you read it?

Mr. Perrault: Absolutely.

Senator Baker: The commissioner must be aware and there must be proof that the commissioner was aware. That proof will have to be given in court in order to prosecute under the act.

Mr. Perrault: That proof will come under section 512 of the act, because there must be written confirmation by the commissioner authorizing the prosecution.

Senator Baker: A commissioner's certificate?

Mr. Perrault: That is right, under 512 of the current legislation. If I want to bring about a prosecution, I would have to obtain a certificate from the commissioner. When I do that, of course, the commissioner will be made aware of the facts giving rise to the prosecution. Then, the 18-month limitation period kicks in.

Senator Baker: I ask you to answer yes or no. Do you believe that awareness by the commissioner is a judicial prerequisite for laying a charge under the act?

Mr. Perrault: I think it seems to me the answer is yes.

Senator Baker: Good for you. There is recent case law on this from B.C. and Manitoba.

I have one final question. Do you think that the case in Manitoba, Gateway Industries Limited, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2003 vs. Court of Queen's Bench, trumps the B.C. Court of Appeal in 1994 that ruled to the contrary?

Mr. Perrault: There is no trumping until the Supreme Court decides otherwise, except in Manitoba. The ruling of each provincial Court of Appeal remains the authority.

Senator Baker: Of course, in each province, but supposing it is not in that province?

Mr. Perrault: If it is not in the province, then it is not binding.

Senator Baker: The drafters of this bill copied the wording that is currently in two other acts of Parliament. However, the wording is almost exact with one small change: by adding the words ``and not later than seven years after the day on which the offence was committed.'' In the other acts, it does not give an end date. Are you aware of why that was done in this bill when it was not done in the other act? Was it done to correct an existing problem in the other acts?

Mr. Perrault: It was done for the reasons that Ms. René de Cotret indicated earlier.

Senator Baker: What were they?

Mr. Perrault: The seven-year rule for offences relating to contributions.

Senator Baker: Yes, but something could be initiated within seven years because that is the limitation time. The other acts stated that the minister can initiate action two years after the minister becomes aware of the proceedings that gave rise to the action. In this bill, it states that you have 18 months after and no later than seven years.

Mr. Perrault: There is an end stop to this.

Senator Baker: What is the significance of that?

Ms. René de Cotret: To provide an end to the limitation.

Senator Baker: — which is not in the other two acts.

Ms. René de Cotret: That is correct.

Senator Baker: Good.

The Chairman: Are there any other issues for the witnesses? We thank you for appearing. If you would not mind standing by, we may want to talk to you again after we hear from the law clerks.

Honourable senators, we will now hear from our law clerks, Mr. Mark Audcent and Mr. Michel Patrice. Gentlemen, A number of senators raised issues about some controversies between the French and English versions of the bill. Senator Rivest, in particular, noted that there were a number of inconsistencies. We would like your comments on that, please.

First of all, have you had an opportunity to see the ones he has been talking about?

Mr. Mark Audcent, Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, Senate of Canada: I would like to know what the questions are that I am being asked to address.

The Chairman: I apologize; I thought you had seen a copy of this. These are the questions raised by Senator Rivest.

Mr. Audcent: Is it the document that begins with the words ``Hier, le sénateur Nolin''?

The Chairman: Previous witnesses indicated that the errors could be addressed administratively between the Senate and the Commons. We would like you to inform the committee as to your view on this.

Mr. Audcent: Honourable senators, perhaps I can just begin with an overview of how the corrections system works when it is to be done clerically. It occurs in the passage of bills that a bill may have a clerical error. When there is a clerical error, the officers of the house are in a position to correct that error. If the bill were still in the first House, it could be done just by the officer of that House. When a bill is in the second house, it would require the cooperation of the officers of both Houses to agree that there is a clerical error.

The bill that is before you now is a Commons bill; it has been through the Commons and it has come to the Senate. Therefore, any correction of a clerical nature would require the cooperation of both the law clerk of the House of Commons and the law clerk of the Senate.

It also occurs that the clerical errors come up in committee. When senators raise an issue of a clerical error, it can be addressed in several ways. The first option is, if they do not raise it or if they choose to do nothing with it, and if the two law clerks are in agreement, it can be corrected. The second option is that the senators could decide to instruct the law clerk to correct the clerical error. If you do that, you have to keep in mind that the law clerk of the other institution would also have to agree to the correction. The third possibility is that the committee is in a position to do an amendment. An amendment is not always necessary if it is a clerical error, but it does not mean that just because it is not necessary, it cannot be done by amendment.

Those are the options, generally speaking, that face a committee of senators. You can do nothing; you can direct me to correct a clerical error, if it is a clerical error; and you can do an amendment to correct a clerical error.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: You are not assuming that what we are discussing here are clerical errors, are you? Can I draw your attention to page 63 of the bill, which is one example of two where, I think, identifying it as a parchment error might be in dispute? Page 63, clause 46, proposed subsection 453(l), you will see in the English version there is a reference to paragraph 451(1)(a), which does not appear in 453(l) of the French version. Take the time to read both. I have, and I wonder whether that paragraph is necessary in the French version, which makes you wonder whether it is necessary in the English version. There is a similar one in proposed section 478.3(3) at the top of page 80.


There is a reference to clause 478.23 in English but not in French. This is more than a numbering error.


One or the other has to be correct. The correction, I would suggest — well I will stop there — I would think it would be more than just through two clerks getting together.

Mr. Michel Patrice, Parliamentary Counsel, Senate of Canada: If I may, Senator, bills are written in two official languages, so you will find different styles in terms of correlation.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I accept and encourage that.

Mr. Patrice: In the case of page 63, for example, I have been in contact with the translation bureau to determine if the French version corresponds to the English version, based on the fact that there is a specific reference in the English version and there is no specific reference in the French version. In the opinion of the translator, it is clear to him that it is just a style difference, namely, for example, there is only one —


... compte de campagne électorale dressé pour cette élection.


In the French version, it is considered that the reference to section 451(1)(a) would not be necessary to the paragraph. Therefore, in this case, there would be no clerical correction to the bill. It would stay as it is because it is substantially the same.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is what the translator says. What does the minister responsible for the bill say?

Mr. Patrice: That, I could not answer.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Every other paragraph, except the one to which you referred and the other one on page 80, has numerical references in both the French and the English. I do not think we found one, except for some earlier ones where the numbers do not conform to each other. That, I might accept as a clerical error.

However, in this case of the reference to 451(1)(a) in 453(1) and in the other proposed section, the corresponding paragraphs in French do not say the same thing. One refers directly to a report to be based on something and the other one says:


... dressé pour cette élection ...

And this was done without any reference to subsection 451(1). And what will the return be based on?

Mr. Patrice: Reference is made to the election campaign return.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Indeed.

Mr. Patrice: There will be only one in the act, and it will probably be included in subsection 45(1)(a).

Senator Lynch-Staunton: You do not seem convinced.

Mr. Patrice: I checked.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Did you check with the translator?

Mr. Patrice: I checked with the translator this afternoon and in the original act. In the original act, this same stylistic difference can be found between the two versions in certain provisions. I cannot recall exactly when this occurs, but there are some provisions that are drafted as they appeared in the current legislation.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Why, then, do we specify the subsection in English but not in French?

Mr. Patrice: This is a stylistic issue.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I do not agree with the person who gave you this opinion. The two versions must correspond. In this case, the versions do not correspond.


Senator Kinsella: My question is supplementary to this same article. Senator Lynch-Staunton referred us to page 80. Subparagraph three, in English, reads ``The nomination contestant's financial agent shall provide an updated version of a document referred to in subsection 478.23(1) within 30 days...''

The French version is different.


(3) L'agent financier produit la version modifiée du document ...


The problem that I have in reading that translation is that it opens up the question as to which document. I know that one can go back a few sections in the French version, but there are several things that have intervened in between. A lawyer arguing this in court would raise the question of which document, in the English version, it is only the document that is referred to in subsection 478.23(1). However, because of the several intervening paragraphs in the French version, I am not at all certain that the French ``du document'' is as limited as it is in the English version. I can see a lawyer walking through this inconsistency very carefully.

Would you not agree that it would be much clearer, because of the intervening paragraphs from the beginning of the French version on page 79, proposed section 478.3, that sub-paragraph 3 in the French version really should have, have for clarity, the indication of which document is which.


We could say:

This document and the documents referred to in subsection 478 ...


It is a little different. The distance is much greater than in the example of my colleague, would you not agree?

I suppose this is not as much a legal question, and so may be a little unfair to our witnesses, as it is something that we, as the legislators, must determine. I wish to be circumspect in my question to our legal advisers, because it might not be an appropriate question in their domain.

Mr. Patrice: It is beyond the scope of a clerical question. We would base ourselves on advice from translators and specialized drafters. If they say it is substantially the same and it is a difference of style, we would not correct it as a clerical error. If, on the other hand, the legislators think that it would be better for clarity to amend it, it is outside our question of dealing with clerical errors.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: It is my hope that you do not base your conclusion of a parchment error simply on what a translator tells you.

Mr. Audcent: No.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I know you were caught unawares, but the legislator has not been consulted for his or her view. Is that correct?

Senator Joyal: My question was along those lines. What do you mean by ``clerical error''? It could be a very encompassing kind of qualification over an error and to understand the scope of the initiative that the clerk can have between the two houses, it would help us to understand what is meant by clerical error.

Mr. Audcent: As I have told honourable senators in the past, the law clerks are very conservative with respect to those situations in which an error on a bill would be regarded as a clerical error. It seems to me there are two components to something that could be classified as a ``clerical error.''

The first component is that it is obviously an error. The easiest example would be if the French version says three and the English version says four, they cannot both be right. You have an obvious error, but that does not resolve the problem. Once you decide that you have an obvious error, you have to see if there is only one possible conclusion about which version is right. If two versions were inconsistent, the question would arise of which one is correct. One does not assume in favour of one official version or the other. Therefore, there are two components: an obvious error and an obvious indicator that one version is right and the other one is wrong, if there happens to be a discrepancy between the two versions. There are other types of errors as well; however, it always comes back to those tests. Is there obviously an error and is there only one possible conclusion?

Senator Joyal: Are clerical errors mainly a question of figures or a question of omissions?

Mr. Audcent: A clerical error could be something as simple as a typing error in English, such as ```i' before `e' or `e'' before `i'.'' It might have nothing to do with the French version. Clerical errors can come in a multitude of forms. If it a simple typing error, if word ``the'' is obviously ``the,'' but spelled ``h-t-e,'' do you really need a parliamentary amendment to correct the spelling? The law clerks would feel they could correct the spelling of that particular word. We would replace ``the'' and initial it, so it could go out to Canadians with the correct spelling.

Senator Joyal: Could you repeat your explanation of the similarity of the meaning of two articles that, in your opinion, are left to the translator? How much leeway does a translator have to do a translation, whereby some elements of the English version do not seem to appear in the French version?

Mr. Audcent: My understanding of the situation is that English and French versions are sometimes stylistically different. The legislation section of the Department of Justice is prepared to have a certain latitude in the French and English versions to give expression to the genius of each of the languages and ensure that they read the way they should read. Generally speaking, English tends to precision and French tends to generality.

The particular example that was drawn to our attention at the table is clearly something that does not involve a clerical error at all. It is a stylistic difference between the English and the French. It seems to me that where the bill before you has a stylistic difference between the English and the French you, as legislators, have a choice whether you would like to live with that stylistic difference or whether you would like to amend that stylistic difference by amending either the French or the English versions. However, we are not speaking about error in that particular case.

Senator Joyal: In the specific case of page 80, 478.3(3)?

Mr. Patrice: For clarification, it is not that we rely on the translators to give us the final wording. They are another source for us to verify wording.

The Chairman: If I may interrupt for a moment, Senator Joyal, Senator Lynch-Staunton pointed to two examples. With respect to the proposed section in question on page 63, I understand that your evidence is that it is a stylistic difference. Is that correct?

Mr. Patrice: Yes.

The Chairman: The second one is on page 80. Was that again a stylistic difference?

Mr. Audcent: Mr. Chairman, these particular items were drawn to our attention not very long ago. We have been in touch with the translators. Mr. Patrice was advised that this would be a standard stylistic difference between the languages. We both must admit that neither of us has studied the bill and those particular sections enough to say that in our minds — understanding the operation of the law — that there is no difference.

I can tell you that it is not a clerical error. It is either one of two things. It is either a stylistic difference between the two versions, or it is something that should be corrected.

The Chairman: You are prepared to say that on page 63 it is a stylistic difference in your opinion?

Mr. Patrice: Yes.

The Chairman: However, you are not so certain on page 80 that it is a stylistic difference. You would want to study it a little more. Is that correct?

Mr. Patrice: Exactly. I was not at the stage of verifying the different sections that was raised to me. Yes, I am certain about the one on page 63. I am not certain in the one on page 80. I cannot address that aspect of it.


Senator Robichaud: Mr. Chairman, we must nonetheless be fair to our advisers. We should give them the time they need to determine whether or not one version reflects the other. It is not a simple matter of translation. Translation implies simply taking one version and translating it into another language. In this case, it is more a question of expressing the same action, reaction or condition. We are asking a lot of our witnesses by requesting that they give their opinion immediately without allowing them to establish a link between one clause and the other.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I wanted to be able to differentiate between clerical errors and drafting errors made by the law clerks. As far as that is concerned, your comments have helped us a great deal. If the two versions are saying the same thing, all is well. However, at first glance, it would appear that there has been an omission in one version, and that version does not correspond to the other.

I do not like using the word ``translation''. This is not what we have been told for a few years now. We have been told that the two languages are treated equally. Two drafters draft together — and fortunately, they do so in their own language without referring to the other language in order to have a translation.

Senator Robichaud: Absolutely.

Mr. Audcent: We are talking about parallel drafting.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I made that point here a few years ago when the issue was raised, and I am pleased to do so again.

Senator Robichaud: We must also recognize that it is possible to say the same thing in both languages without having exactly the same number of words in each.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Exactly. But this flexibility is required. We have two official languages, and, in every case, the drafters work hard to produce texts that match. It is difficult to do this out of context, because we have to take into account not just a single subclause or a single line of a clause, but we have to go back and check to see that the two versions say the same thing.


Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, what is clear and commonly agreed to is that there is a variance occurring in the English and the French text. We might see that variance as a stylistic thing, as my colleague Senator Robichaud has explained. In respect of the first example that Senator Lynch-Staunton raised, a case may be made that that is more stylistic. It is a variance, but one of style.

The issue on page 80 is not simply stylistic — it is more substantive. It certainly is a variance. In Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules & Form, sixth edition, at paragraph 657, we read the following: ``When a variance occurs in the English or French texts of a bill, it may be treated, with unanimous consent, as an editorial change.''

My reading is that they say we ``may'' do this because as legislators trying to understand a particular section of a bill we may determine what is clearly being said. If we are satisfied with that variation then, by unanimous consent, we do not have to amend it. However, if there is no unanimous consent and legislators believe interpret the passage in question differently, then someone would have to bring forward an amendment for clarity of the bill. Whether that amendment would succeed is another issue.

With that in the back of my mind, I looked at page 56 of the bill. The first paragraph, proposed subsection 435.35(3), states in English:

The leadership contestant's financial agent shall provide an updated version of a document referred to in the proposed new subsection 435.3(1) within 30 days after making a payment that is dealt with in the updated version.

The comparable French version simply states:


478.3(3) The nomination contestant's financial agent shall provide an updated version of a document referred to in subsection 478.23(1) within 30 days after making a payment that is dealt with in the updated version.


Again, we have that problem of whether they are referring to the same document. You read backwards to try to find out if the text of the bill tells us exactly what that document is then you read forward to it. I cannot find it. For clarity, it should tell us there, ``It is this document that is referred to in 435.3(1).''

That takes us beyond simply the issue of a variance. It is not clear. Our job is to make the bill clear. We have a problem. If I want to pursue this, I should produce an amendment to see whether my colleagues on the committee would agree to it or not. That is just another example.

The Chairman: I appreciate your comments. I would like to make a suggestion to the committee. We have heard all of the evidence that we had slated to hear on this particular bill. I will be guided by the committee, however, I would suggest that perhaps we could give our legal experts some time overnight to look at the issues that were raised by Senator Rivest. Perhaps they could return tomorrow morning at ten o'clock and meet with us and give us their guidance with respect to some of the rather complex issues that have been raised here this evening.

If the committee is agrees, I should say that it would be our intention, if this can be clarified, to then proceed to clause-by-clause on this bill. If anyone has any strong objection or if anyone would like to comment on that, please feel free.

Senator Beaudoin: There are some limits to the question of style, in my opinion. Since 1982, it has been clearly stated in section 16 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that French and English are the official languages of Canada and that they are equal. Since both texts are absolutely equal, I think the doubt is in favour of an amendment.

The Chairman: Before we discuss the option of tomorrow morning, I have just been told that the officials would like to speak to it. They say they may have a resolution to this.

Senator Andreychuk: It seems to me they are equal texts, but they also have to be compatible. The law has to put the same rights and obligations and responsibilities in either official language, so it is not a question of equality. It seems, therefore, it is a question of interpretation.

If you look at the English, it is obviously more specific. The wording in subsection (3) on page 80, refers to ``documents referred to in 478.23(1)...'' You know exactly which document you are talking about. The French text may be more stylistic or generalistic, but it talks about a document. If you want the text to be compatible, one would have to come to the conclusion that on a normal legal interpretation, you could only come to one conclusion, that, in the French, by virtue of the words chosen, you are going to get yourself back to subsection 478.23(1).

However, if you can come to a conclusion that it could refer to documents other than that, then I think we have a problem. It is a question of interpretation and coming to the same conclusion, not a choice or a variance of conclusions in French.

We have to be very careful when we say something is ``stylistic'' and one is general and one is specific. In the end, they have to speak about the same subject matter in the same manner and in the same way. I think that is an interpretive problem.

Senator Joyal talked about how you define ``clerical.'' A few years ago, we talked about these types of things coming up more often. I thought the Legal Committee was, at that point, expressing its dissatisfaction that these discrepancies were happening more often than just the odd mistake or the odd problem. We were going to look into how these two texts are married together. They are done independently — which we want. However, in the end, we want the law to say the same thing in French and in English. I am afraid we never followed up on that kind of study. This is another classic example of why someone should look at this, because this is not occasional. It seems to be occurring more often than not.

Senator Bryden: I am treading in here very cautiously. We have been discussing the English and French proposed subsections 478.3(3) that appear on page 80. If you go back to Senator Kinsella's reference to the subsections 435.35(3) appearing on the top of page 56, the proposed French subsection does basically the same thing on that page to reflect the corresponding English subsection as it does in the reference on page 80. It is a consistent expression — 20 pages apart or so — to say in French what is said more specifically in English.

I want to make one other comment as a lawyer. In interpreting any statute, you cannot interpret a section in isolation. You must read sometimes a whole statute, but you clearly have to put it in its context. One of the questions — I am sure this will happen, as I know these two gentlemen well — is that in reading the English draft, you come to one conclusion as to the intent and the action one would take. In the French, do you do the same thing in the context of the act with which you are dealing? If the answer is ``yes,'' then I think the problem is resolved. If it is not, then I think we are in the situation that we are in. Clearly, it is not an arbitrary thing that occurred on page 80, because if it was, it was equally arbitrary on page 56.

We need to put it in context. What is the intention of the section by each draftsman? If the intent is clear — no matter how it is expressed — and the reading is the same in both languages, then that is fine. It may be stylistic or whatever you want to call it. That is, I take it, what you need to look at in order to ensure that the advice is correct.

The Chairman: I will ask Madam René de Cotret and Mr. Perrault to come back to the table.

Mr. Perrault: We will be brief. What we have to say builds on what Senator Andreychuk and Senator Bryden just said. I do not think there is a disagreement there.

In respect of the subsections in question on page 80, if you turn to page 79, you will see that the situation is identical. Subsection 1 refers to updating financial reporting documents. It specifically, in subsection 1, refers in both English and French to documents referred to in subsection 478.23(1). It is identical in both languages regarding a certain number of claims, which are specified. Subsection (2) in both the English and in the French on page 80 talk about updated versions of the documents. They do not specify — again — the updated documents referred to in subsection 478.23(1). It is the same updated document. The French carries on with that same logic to the third paragraph — referring again to the updated documents. For some reason, the English in the third paragraph is more specific than it is in the second paragraph and refers to a document referred to in subsection 478.23(1).

In my view, it is quite clear that, throughout the section, we are consistently talking about the same modified document. There cannot be any ambiguity about what the true intent of Parliament is in either section. As the Honourable Senator Bryden pointed out, if you interpreted one section separately from the other, you would clearly come to the exact same conclusion as to which document you are talking about.

This type of drafting approach — which appears to differ here in the English and French — was adopted at different stages in the legislation. It is clearly not a drafting error, it is a difference of style, but it is not a difference in the law.

The Chairman: Can you speak to the other issues that were raised as well, Mr. Perrault? Can you speak to each one of them before we go to questions?

Senator Kinsella: Can we speak to the issue Mr. Perrault has just raised?

The Chairman: That is fine.

Senator Kinsella: Mr. Perrault has reinforced my case. Things are clear on page 79 where the proposed section starts off. The text refers to a period referred to in subsection 478.23(6) or (7) in both French and English versions. The text further makes reference to an updated version of any documents referred to in subsection 478.23(1). Again, this reference appears in both the English and the French texts. At the top of page 80, both texts make reference to a document that has been subject to an audit under section 478.28. That document — the one that has been subject to an audit — is the same document that is referred to in the French, section 478.28. However, when you get to proposed subsection (3), the English tells us clearly that the updated version of a document referred to in subsection 478.32(1). The French you see, says, ``the document.'' Is it the audited document that is referred to in section 478.28 or is it the one that is referenced on page 79?

Senator Robichaud: It is the same thing. The modified version.

Mr. Perrault: I personally see no ambiguity. In subsection (2), we are talking about an updated version of a document that has been subject to an audit, under the audit provision set out in 478.28. It is the same updated version throughout that is referred to.

Senator Beaudoin: When they use the expression ``du document,'' it means that there is only one.


Mr. Perrault: There may be several documents, because the bill states:

478.3(1) [...] any document referred to in subsection 478.23.

All these documents are referred to in the same subsection.

Subclause 478.3(2) reads as follows:

(2) If the matters dealt with in the updated version of the documents have been subject to an audit [...]

It is not necessary to provide a copy of such documents. That means that if a change was made followed by an audit report, it is not necessary to provide the updated version. If this is not the case, it is necessary to provide an updated version within 30 days, under subclause 478.3(3).


Senator Buchanan: Could I ask a simple question? I do not understand the French, I will admit right now, but if you take page 80, subsections (2) and (3), forget the English and just look at the French, what do you see?

Mr. Perrault: Proposed subsection (2) tells me that if ``the updated'' — the ``version modifiée'' — has been the subject of an audit, I do not have to file that modified version because I am filing the audit report. The do not need the two copies.

Senator Buchanan: I am saying that if you look at the French, it is an audit under section 478.28?

Mr. Perrault: That is right.

Senator Buchanan: All right. What does subsection (3) say?

Mr. Perrault: Proposed section (2) set out when you do not have to submit — that is, when you have submitted an auditor's report anyway. You do not have to change your documents because the changed versions are in the audited report. Proposed subsection (3) says when you do have to submit it, you have to submit it within 30 days.

Senator Buchanan: What document?

Mr. Perrault: The modified version that is referred to in subsection (1).

Senator Buchanan: Why, because in the English it says 478.23(1)?

Mr. Perrault: That is right. This is referred to in 478.3(1) — that is, the first paragraph of this proposed section — where it makes reference to a modified document. It says that there is a need — after a certain period of time — to produce a modified version regarding the specific categories, which it then lists.

Senator Buchanan: Let us set stylistic issues aside for a moment. Why is the French not basically, in substance, the same as the English?

Mr. Perrault: My position is that it is.

Senator Buchanan: Why is it, in subsection (3) on page 80 there is no mention of subsection 478.23(1) in the French?

Mr. Perrault: There is no ambiguity with regard to which documents we have referred. We have three clauses. The first one says that when you make modifications to documents, you have to file the updated versions. The second clause say that you do not have to file them if they have gone through an audit and you have filed the audit. You do not need to file them again. The third clause says that if you do have to file them, you file within 30 days.


Senator Lynch-Stauton: Do you think that the words ``version modifiée'' and ``updated version'' mean the same thing?

Mr. Perrault: The current Elections Act has the same difference in the French and English versions with respect to candidates' returns.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The wording is the same as that used at the moment?

Mr. Perrault: It is exactly the same. Clause 455 contains...

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The word ``updated'' seems closer to the expression ``à jour'' than to the word ``modifié''. ``Updated'' means ``current'', while the word ``modifié'' is open to interpretation. We might ask what is modified.

I do not want to make things more complicated than they are, but we want to ensure that the two versions are compatible and say the same thing. When I saw the term ``updated'', I understood it to mean ``brought up-to-date''. When I read the French version, I saw the word ``modifié,'' which implies that perhaps a number has been changed here and there, without amounting to an updated version.

Senator Robichaud: Mr. Chairman, I move that we accept your suggestion to allow our experts and law clerks to reach an agreement on this. It is difficult for witnesses to explain the French version in English. That is the problem we have here. It is difficult for the two versions to use the same number of words.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The problem is with the English version.

Senator Robichaud: Probably the English version is very generous with the details, and this is reflected in the way in which it is drafted.

Senator Beaudoin: I accept that we may discuss style and stylistic errors. However, style does have its limitations. We must not forget that the two versions are equal and must remain equal. That is the issue people do not seem to understand.

Senator Robichaud: When you say the two versions are equal, Senator Beaudoin, that does not mean that they must have an equal number of words. They must have the same meaning. That is what you mean, is it not?

Senator Beaudoin: Each language has its own style. There is an English style and a French style. However, there should be no difference in the meaning of the French version and the English version.

Senator Robichaud: I agree.


The Chairman: Honourable senators, I will interject here and go back to my original suggestion to the committee: We should ask the law clerk to assess this overnight, return in the morning and tell us if in fact there is ambiguity here. Is there ambiguity here or can the current wording in the bill stand on its own?

Mr. Audcent, do you have a question?

Mr. Audcent: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I wanted to be clear that it is the item on page 56 and the item on page 80 that we are to take away and report on?

Senator Lynch-Staunton: You may want to take the sheet that was given to you earlier and look at pages 31, 33 and 34.

The Chairman: Pages 33, 63 and 80 are all on the list that you have, Mr. Audcent. If you can look at them all and report back to us in the morning, we would very much appreciate it.

Ms. René de Cotret: There was one provision — I do not remember which one — that raised a concern about a reference to 451 in the English that was not repeated in the French. As pointed out by Mr. Patrice, it is the section that refers to the electoral return. There is only one section in the act that deals with the election returns and it is section 451. I would like to make that clear so there is no ambiguity there.

The Chairman: Thank you very much, Madam René de Cotret.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Look at section 453(1).


The French version reads as follows:

... shall report to the candidate's official agent on the electoral campaign return.

The text reads ``electoral campaign,'' not ``electoral campaigns.'' It seems to me something is missing here. Are we talking about the campaign or a campaign?

Ms. René de Cotret: At the moment, the act refers to a campaign return.


The Chairman: Senator Andreychuk wants to make one point. Before she does that, we will go with the suggestion of having the law clerk back in the morning. I suggest we sit at 10 o'clock. I will require the consent of the two whips' offices for that. When Senator Andreychuk is finished, I will suggest to the committee that we move to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-39.

Senator Andreychuk: I wondered whether some of the points raised here were as a result of the amendments made in the House of Commons, as opposed to the original draft?

Mr. Perrault: No.

Senator Andreychuk: Have there been more people drafting? Are all these in the original version? I am just pointing that out to the law clerks. It would be important to know the origin of those sections. Were they in the original text or were they amended texts?

Mr. Audcent: Okay.

The Chairman: Is it agreed, honourable senators, that the committee move to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-39, an act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and the Parliament of Canada Act?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Shall the title stand postponed?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Shall clause 1 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 2 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 3 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 4 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 5 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 7 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 8 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Sorry, I have been informed that I missed clause 6. Shall clause 6 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 8 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 9 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 10 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 11 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 12 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Shall clause 13 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Shall the title carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Is it agreed, honourable senators, that this bill be adopted without amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Smith: Mr. Chairman, out of an abundant of caution, could it be noted that I am not voting on this?

There are provisions that have very specific reference to buy-back of your Commons time, which apply to me. I would be the only one they apply to here. I am in a current dialogue so —

Some Hon. Senators: Out, out of the room.

The Chairman: I shall note for the record that Senator Smith did not partake in the voting on Bill C-39. Is that agreed?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Is it agreed, honourable senators, that the bill be adopted without amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Is it agreed that this bill be reported without observations at the next sitting of the Senate?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried. Thank you very much, senators. The meeting is adjourned.

The committee adjourned.

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