I did say “personally”. There is no personal condemnation.
But, Madam Chair, I think you, as chair, also have a responsibility; the responsibility is to see that the mandate of the committee is followed, and the mandate of this committee has totally blown apart. It's going in a direction that is not synonymous with its original intent.
Now, instead of being a tool for change and/or an avenue with which the government can move forward with constructive comments and constructive suggestions, this committee has been politicized and now it just becomes another witch hunt. And the witch hunt changes by the meeting, by the day.
Any statement that has been made and/or any motion that is passed should, at some particular point, then, be the focus of that. Instead, comments and/or motions mean nothing. Commitments mean nothing. We go on to the next motion, and whether it's spurious or whether it's related to the previous motion or not, it's on to another topic, another subject.
When I did speak out in public on this issue, the one issue that concerned me.... When I take a look at the number of witnesses who have come before this committee over this past three to four months, and the time and the effort from all of the witnesses, let alone the time and the effort of all the members of Parliament, let alone all the time and the effort of all of the staff, we have not put ourselves in a position to make one solid, concrete suggestion and/or motion that would lead to the betterment of government, that would lead to a better direction of government, that would lead to a greater level of accountability in the government going forward.
Now, literally, if we ever wanted to do a study, we could take a costing on how much we are costing the Ontario taxpayer and the Canadian taxpayer across this country and not putting forth anything of value. If this were a “business”, all we would have is a huge investment and no return.
I cannot imagine the Canadian population taking a look at what we're producing. What are we producing? Where are our reports? Where are our suggestions? Where is the definitive direction that says, “We have a mandate and it is (a), (b), and (c), and we are following it because we are producing this, this, and this”?
We have a number of things we started to get our teeth into, things that are very, very important. As I mentioned before, the one issue that probably has been haunting Parliament for years is the accrual accounting issue, and this committee, to its credit, dealt with it in an intermediate step. This is an issue that, if it comes forward to fruition, will mean millions and millions and millions of dollars will be affected by government decisions that should be made with more information—more current information, more adequate information, and more dedicated information. That is the direction this committee should go in if it wants to follow its additional mandate.
If we don't want to be a government oversight accountability committee, then fine, let's go on. If we want to be a condemnatory and investigative source looking at everything that's taken place in the past six months, two years, five years, or ten years, and try to affix blame, if this is a name-the-blame committee, then so be it, but then let's change the mandate of this committee, because we have gone totally away from the direction and purpose of this committee.
Once again, the motions coming before us today will deal with one issue, one-off subjects. They're certainly not dealing with the long-term recommendations that we are going to make to Parliament. Where can we go with these other than simply have another witch hunt? That's all they are. The unfortunate thing is that they are there for partisan purposes; we all realize that. And I think that all members of this committee have been guilty of that, regardless of the side they sit on, regardless of whether we're in opposition and/or in government, because we've been there—with the exception of the Bloc and the NDP. I understand the reality of sitting on the other side and wanting to throw barbs and nails, but at some particular point we have to get on with the job.
When we continue down this path, Madam Chair, we are not getting on with our job. So I make one last plea to my colleagues. Some of my colleagues will say, oh, well, are you trying to be holier than thou; excuse me, let's understand the political reality of the times and let's just get on with this, whether it's a motion to bring back a witness or.... I know we have another motion coming forward to bring back a cabinet minister again, which would be for the sixth or seventh time now. We didn't even finish questions the last time, because there were no more.
Madam Chair, we are going in so many different directions. We've had witnesses come before committee on the motion that's coming forward. Regrettably, we said that we would deviate from the original intent of this committee, and here we go ahead, against the will of the government. But I understand that the opposition controls the destiny of the committee, and they said no, no, we're going to move away from the purpose of this motion and we are going to deal with an issue that is really not in our mandate, as we want to be able to try to make some political hay of it.
So what I'm suggesting, Madam Chair, is that I'm deeply disturbed by my colleagues moving in a direction that I find counterproductive to the whole purpose of this committee. I'd like to hear from the chair on this issue, on the record, as to whether or not she believes in the original intent of this committee, and I'd like to know, Madam Chair, if we should perhaps call in either Madam Catterall and/or Mr. Williams, who put the motions before the House that brought forward the spirit and intent of this committee, to see if we can get back to the basics of what we are supposed to be doing, because here we are, going around and around the table talking about motions that don't serve the intent of the committee. That, to me, Madam Chair, is a travesty. As I mentioned before, if we were to fully investigate the cost of this, I would expect that we'd be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars—hundreds of thousands of dollars—with nothing to show for it.
As a taxpayer of Canada, I would be mad as hell with the fact that we are just taking my dollars and using them for personal partisan gain and not expressing the actual will and intent of this committee.
I'd like to talk a little bit more about this, Madam Chair, but I know that a couple of my colleagues have some concerns on this as well, so I'll come back to this matter in a minute.