Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank all the witnesses who are here this morning.
Before putting any specific questions, I would like to make a general observation: Canada is presently in a full-blown economic crisis.
That has to take priority, in our view. In other words, every day, every week, every month there are thousands or tens of thousands of people losing their jobs and being laid off. The government ought to have acted many months ago to support the economy through a fiscal stimulus. Finally they have it, and in our view the top priority has to be to get that fiscal stimulus out the door as quickly as possible in order to support jobs.
We are aware that there are huge deficiencies in this budget. We are aware that the government should have acted earlier. We are aware that the government needs to be monitored. But my general point is that if witnesses wish to make amendments to the budget, they will have to penetrate the hearts of those people on the other side of the table, because otherwise we think the top priority for the country at this time of crisis is to get the money flowing to support jobs.
Having said that, I'd like to ask a question to Mr. Pierre Beauchamp on the Competition Act. I think the Competition Act is framework legislation and generally is not changed more than every twenty years. It's an egregious breach of process to rush it through with little debate in a budget bill. I agree with the position that many have taken on that point.
I was interested in your comments about the chilling effect that certain aspects of this legislation may have on small business in particular. I wonder if you could elaborate a little bit on that briefly.