Madam Chair, I happened to bump into our committee chair this afternoon as I was making my way to the House. He informed me that he might have to be in the House until 3:25 or 3:30 in order to listen to Mr. Harper's speech and that Minister Prentice would likely be in the same situation. That's all he said to me. I didn't even have time to tell him that I'd like to hear Mr. Duceppe's speech and that my colleagues likely also wanted to hear their respective leaders speak.
I don't know what to say. It's very regrettable that we were not advised of this earlier, since all of the witnesses are here. If the Prime Minister's speech lasts 15 minutes, the Minister will not make it here until 4:15 or 4:30. That will leave us with only one hour with him. It's very important, however, that we hear from the minister at this stage, because we're beginning our work. After listening to some excellent presentations from departmental officials, I have some very important questions for the minister. I would imagine the same holds true for my colleagues. Furthermore, there's the fact that the Auditor General tabled her report yesterday. If the Minister addresses the committee for 10 or 15 minutes, we'll be left with only 25 or 30 minutes to ask him questions.
Personally, I think we should have rescheduled the minister's appearance and adjourned today's meeting. This is a highly unusual situation. With all due respect to the Prime Minister, even in the previous Parliament, when the Prime Minister was scheduled to address the House, some committees would continue to sit, but at other times, when the Prime Minister was scheduled to make an important speech in the House, committee meetings were cancelled.
I'll leave it at that and listen to what my colleagues have to say.