Ms. Catherine Fife: This question is to the Acting Premier. The Premier wrote Ontario’s electoral reform bill without any actual consultation, and now we see the results. Yesterday, Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer said that the Liberal legislation would restrict advertising that has nothing to do with elections.
This so-called “activist centre” Premier wrote legislation that would put significant restrictions on parents concerned with autism or people calling for the cleanup of Grassy Narrows, but no restrictions on partisan government ads. This is exactly why a non-partisan panel should have consulted with experts before drafting this legislation.
Will the Acting Premier commit to making significant changes to this Liberal plan?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: Government House leader.
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I don’t think that the member opposite really needs a lecture on how the parliamentary process works. I think she’s quite aware. She has been a member for some time. When a matter is before a committee, of course the members of the committee have the opportunity to make changes to that particular bill.
In this particular instance, we have—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Carry on, please.
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, in this particular matter, we have taken a very open, transparent and credible process to ensure that Ontarians, during the summer months, have the opportunity to provide their points of view. Yesterday, Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer presented at the committee. He noted that our proposed legislation represents the most significant redesign of Ontario election finance law in more than 40 years. We thank the officer for his testimony yesterday.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Ms. Catherine Fife: So the process is flawed and the legislation is flawed.
Back to the Acting Premier: In addition to raising significant concerns with how the Premier’s office has decided to restrict advertising that may actually have nothing to do with elections, the Chief Electoral Officer said that he was concerned about whether Liberal legislation treats government advertising as political advertising or whether the Liberals are exempting it. This is a legitimate concern.
The Liberals created a loophole for themselves to flood the airwaves with publicly funded self-promotional ads, but they’re putting tight limits on non-partisan ads about issues of public concern, like Grassy Narrows, autism therapy or climate change. Will the Premier be using her majority to push through a flawed piece of legislation?
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: It’s interesting to hear from the NDP, who refused to engage and participate in the process that resulted in the creation of the legislation because they were more interested to stall the process so they could continue with their $10,000 private fundraisers, as they continue to do. The NDP needs to come clean.
This is what the Chief Electoral Officer said yesterday. He said that he was supportive of the government decision to refer the bill to the committee immediately for first reading. He remarked, “This provides both the committee and the people who appear before it the opportunity to consider the legislation from first principles.”
Speaker, we are using the democratic institutions to ensure that the people of Ontario have a voice. It’s time—