Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Mr. Marleau, Ms. Stoddart and Ms. Dawson. I am very pleased to see you here this morning. I have a number of questions for you, but I'm sure you will understand that this may not be the right time to ask all of them.
However, I would like to comment on the Access to Information Act. In the last 15 years, Parliament, the Senate and the Bryden Committee have all reviewed the legislation in depth. The previous commissioner even put forward a new bill. In addition, our committee unanimously passed a motion in December 2005 calling on the House of Commons to accept the strengthened and modernized Access to Information Act that had been drafted by the commissioner of the day. The year 2005 is not that long ago. During the election campaign, the Conservatives actually promised to include a new, strengthened and modernized Access to Information Act in the future accountability act, Bill C-2.
And what did they do? They included a few minor points, but that was all. They did not keep the promise they made during the election campaign. But I did remind them of the commitment they made in February 2006. I came back to this committee. Some motions were passed to have the new legislation strengthened and modernized. In addition, when the Justice Minister, Vic Toews, appeared before the committee in June 2006, he took the initiative of speaking to us about the act. He told us to take our time, to look into it as a committee, to do some analysis and study. We told him that the bill had already been drafted and that he had it before him.
In the end, we repeated our request. We even gave him a deadline—December 15, 2006. We heard nothing more about it until he was replaced by the leader, Stephen Harper. On several occasions, we asked the new minister, Rob Nicholson, to appear before the committee. Of course, Mr. Wallace will remember this. Never ever did Mr. Nicholson agree to appear before us to talk about the Access to Information Act.
Last June, our committee asked all the senior officials to appear, because the minister would not come. Finally, he changed his mind and agreed to come. He was supposed to appear before us in October, but the session was prorogued.
For all these reasons, I would really like to ask Mr. Marleau to speak on this matter and to tell us whether in his opinion, the minister should appear before the committee to present a new Access to Information Act as he promised...