Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank the officials for coming here today.
There are some questions that are really disturbing about what is happening here, specifically with the member for Pickering, who is having his coffee. Maybe if he would come to his seat, we could address some of our concerns.
As the deputy minister has stated, over 50 million trips are made abroad every year. There are a large number of Canadians travelling overseas, and as pointed out, there are unfortunate circumstances that require consular assistance--this year alone, 250,000 new cases, as the deputy minister said. Right now, there are 26,000 open cases being handled by consular people.
The members opposite were in the government and were responsible for the administration of government services. As you can see in their title, they write the word “Honourable”, which means they were members of the Privy Council and subject to the highest clearance available to see the operations of the Government of Canada. This then goes to the point very clearly that they know exactly how the Government of Canada works, because they were part of the Government of Canada.
But what is really disturbing is when they go out publicly and, for cheap political points, accuse the same department that they had been working with, insinuating that it is racist, that there's racism in the department and a two-tier system in the department.
I want to ask the member for Pickering, who was in charge of consular services at that time, what was he doing if he feels that this department that he's talking about--