I'm sorry to have opened a can of worms under point three under estimates, but that's why I opened it up, because it's very important to know each one of these, as Monsieur Bigras has pointed out.
I don't know whether we can take to the bank what we've just heard about the government's agenda. If the government's legislative agenda is the single item called environmental enforcement, okay. Then we had better design our pathway in a more elaborate way to deal with these subjects. For example, I would expect the minister would be appearing. That's why I originally opened this. Whether the minister comes for two hours for the main estimates, if he doesn't come for supplementary estimates C, I thought it had a bearing if he showed up for this environmental enforcement legislation on how often and how long he would come for estimates. That's why I asked the question.
But now I'm hearing, Mr. Chair, that the government has a solitary item in its legislative agenda for this Parliament and I haven't heard anything on water, on climate change, on energy, or biodiversity. Yes, there's a mandatory SARA review. That's not legislative. New legislation is a mandated review for this committee, and we're six months over time now for that. I understand that. But each one of these areas, the estimates we're still on here, point three.... Now that we know the government is bringing forward only one proposed piece of legislation, I think we should spend more time on the estimates.
My view is that if the minister can come for two hours, great, but I just don't think we're doing justice to a $1.1 billion total departmental spending for the Department of the Environment in a two-hour meeting. I go back to an argument I made in this committee several weeks ago about the fact that I think the estimates process is not being properly treated in this committee. I learned from our normal chair that up until 1955 the process of estimates was conducted in the full House of Commons in committee of the whole.
I think we ought to examine the possibility on point three, estimates, to have more than a single meeting to deal with a $1.1 billion budget. So that's why I want to come back to.... Now having heard there is no other legislative agenda, which surprised me, because it was the government's own proposed motion when we were setting up the rules for this committee.... They said they wanted to make sure that government legislation would supersede other work of the committee, so I assumed there would be a volume of legislative changes coming forward, but now we learn there's not.
So I don't know how far we can go as a committee in terms of planning things if we find in a month that the government's changed its mind, which it has the right to do, and other legislation is coming forward. If we're going to roll out on this agenda, I would suggest we spend more time on the estimates. The water and oil sands study in itself, as Monsieur Bigras has rightly pointed out....
If we don't know how many hours, meetings or days we will spend on this study, how can we call witnesses, plan a trip or do what the government might suggest? That would be very difficult. If we take for granted that the government is only interested in a bill on environmental enforcement, we can go ahead with that. But I think that we should focus on the main estimates. I suggest that we let the subcommittee decide and present the main committee with a work schedule. So the issue is how many weeks we will spend studying water and the oil sands, and how many meetings do we want to spend reviewing the main estimates.