Thank you again, Mr. Chair.
Look, though I'm enjoying this discussion, I know that Mr. Julian suggested that perhaps the ordinary way these things are dealt with is by virtue of the subcommittee. I can't help but feel that it might have been an appropriate forum for much of today's discussion.
Frankly, Mr. Julian, I agreed with almost everything you said in your speech. Doing this the normal way, with the subcommittee getting the witnesses and establishing how to proceed, is not the portion of the motion I objected to. Where I think we have a point of disagreement—and I don't know if you'll come around to seeing things my way or not—is in the portion of the motion that discusses each of the parties bringing forward their witnesses and the committee hearing them until every list is “exhausted”. To my mind, that is in fact an indefinite period of time that would allow one party or another, if it so chose, to put in 200 witnesses whose testimony might have limited probative value. If the subcommittee wished to get together and discuss a path forward, that would be a very healthy discussion. If the motion included language demanding that the committee hear from every single witness that every member of this committee could put forward, I think we would create an environment that would be ripe for abuse, frankly.
Mr. Cooper, I take your comments with great respect. I always find you to be articulate. There is no effort to demean the importance of the issue that is currently before this committee. My experience on this committee, since this Parliament has begun, has been extremely valuable to me. I've been very fortunate to have front-row tickets, in some ways, to the economic emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are three sources of information that have been as valuable as anything for me to get new ideas that I could use to help influence the government's approach to various policies: conversations with stakeholders, including in my own community; conversations with MPs from different parts of the country and different parties; and the finance committee. It was really an incredible experience for me to learn about things like the need to invest in the mental health of those who serve on juries in serious trials. It was really valuable to me to learn about the role of the Great Lakes Commission, which I knew very little about before the testimony. It was very informative for to me hear, at a granular level of detail, what investments in a green recovery might be able to offer in terms of the future growth of Canada's employment numbers and environmental and economic health. I could probably list about 200 different examples of testimony that I found valuable and was able to have conversations with colleagues about.
There is a global pandemic on the go. It will require our continued attention and a world-class response if we are going to best serve the interests of Canadians. I do not view that position to be mutually exclusive to the idea that the current study before the finance committee is also important. Both things can be true at once. My only point is that I don't want this scheduling issue to turn into a forum to have as many witnesses as one party may like for potentially political opportunism rather than the substantive probing that I think has taken place to date and that I agree should have taken place to date. That's why I supported most of the motions that have come before this committee, with perhaps the exception of one motion when my power went out. I lost connection immediately before a vote on an issue that I would have supported.
My only hope is that we can get together, be reasonable human beings and, as in virtually every other project, exercise or initiative that I've ever been a part of, try to figure out how long this should properly take and try to figure out where the real information should come from so that we can focus on the issues at hand rather than background noise, which will just confuse the issue for perhaps the purpose of keeping it in the newspapers, when there's actually an emergency that we need to respond to. I would pray that the committee members, whom I've enjoyed my time with, would share my desire to advise the government on what policies it can implement as part of the effort to build back our economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I promise you, Michael, I'm not trying to be tricky. I want to have a solid inquiry through this committee. I think it's been valuable to date. What I do want to avoid is turning it into an exercise that is something other than a probative exercise, which would detract from our ability to advance policies to keep roofs over heads and food on the table.