Thank you, Mr. Chair.
To return to the point I made earlier, this is not the only committee that's examining this matter. The ethics committee is looking at it. The government operations committee is looking at it.
Let me tell you that when I came in to the office this morning, the first thing I did was answer a message from a new business owner who wanted to know what supports, if any, would be available from the federal government for new entrepreneurs. This individual is working very hard. They came up with a business plan and wanted to put a business in place. They didn't foresee a pandemic. They went to the bank, which is not being helpful. I'm working with the government and the relevant departments to assist this constituent, but the more we turn a committee like this one into the WE Charity committee, the more it takes away from our ability as MPs to do the work that's expected of us by constituents.
I wonder if Mr. Poilievre and the Conservative members on the committee would be opposed to looking at COVID-19 issues, and the government's economic response, in future meetings. I would hope that this would be the case. It should be the aim of the finance committee.
This is not to say that issues relating to WE Charity are not important to examine. We have, after all, devoted five meetings now to the issue, and Mr. Poilievre wants to keep going, feeling it's not enough. I understand his position, and I also, I suppose, appreciate that's it good to take “a breather”. I think that's the term he used. He also said that the committee is doing “too much” work this week. I'm sure he's very sincere when he wants us to space this out for the well-being of all of us, or it could be that other issues and considerations are on his mind.
Be that as it may, Mr. Chair, I have to tell you that when a word like “exhausted” is used in a motion, as is the case with Mr. Poilievre's motion, that's the problem here. I mean, there are many problems with what he has proposed, but when the word “exhausted” is used, I get the sense that this will now turn into the WE Charity committee and that we as a committee will not be able to examine the economic realities facing the country at this time.
We have heard from many witnesses at this committee. The clerk has done a wonderful job, so I'm worried about giving her more work, but I'd love to know the number of witnesses we've heard from. There were witnesses who shed a great deal of light on what happened. There were members of the public service, in particular Ms. Kovacevic, who came a few days ago and gave a compelling account and helped us understand more about this issue, but there have been witnesses who, with all due respect to them, at times did not shed a great deal of light, were not terribly helpful, and in fact focused on issues completely unrelated to WE Charity. I will not name witnesses here, but we saw how that went. It was unhelpful to the goals of this committee and this particular study.
If we could take out the wording that's it until the witness list is “exhausted”, that would be most helpful, because I do not want to see this committee, the finance committee.... With all due respect to all MPs, there are those who have made the point—I think, Mr. Chair, you've made this point to me in the past—that the finance committee is among the most important committees, if not the most important, on Parliament Hill. We have an enormous responsibility facing us at this time. We ought to live up to that responsibility on behalf of Canadian workers, businesses and their families.
This is not to say, of course, that ethical matters are not important. Of course they are imperative. That is why we have devoted these meetings to this subject. That is why the ethics committee is devoting meetings to this subject. That is why the government operations committee is devoting meetings to this subject. I really fail to see what we will get out of having meetings ad nauseam, over and over, until the witness list is “exhausted”, of course only to the satisfaction of Mr. Poilievre.
I have one more point. We have to keep in mind that at the end of the day, while this issue is important, we can't be distracted from all those issues that I mentioned before.
I'll leave it there, Mr. Chair. Thanks very much.