I'll leave number three for you.
Question number one concerns the key barriers. I might be dreaming in technicolour here, but it seems to me that there is a huge job to be done, and I think it rests with this committee to really look into the process of oversight at the program level. How can parliamentarians do it? It's not only your committee, it's all the others. You have the mandate on this committee, I believe, to deal with other committees and their work on the estimates, to kind of figure out what needs to be done.
I think the second thing that is closely related to this is that in an awful lot of committees the government members are protecting the government. The opposition members are protecting the opposition, and the question is, how can each party get something of value by overseeing, on behalf of all Canadian citizens, how the government is spending their money? There are answers to this. I have some of my own, but I don't live in your world, I've never lived in your world.
It is a very difficult question, but I think it you address it openly and say the people on the government side have a certain belief that they have the right kinds of programs.... They vote for it. We know they do. But what's wrong with the opposition members saying, “Well, you're going to have that, but let's at least understand what is happening. Why do you need that amount of money to achieve those specific results?” If opposition members see that as a waste of money, they can't change it but they certainly have a better idea how to communicate with the Canadian people as to why a change would be a good idea.
The government members, it seems to me, since they are in favour of the programs, would be in a better position to defend why it is exactly what their policy requires. It seems to me there is a zone here. I don't know exactly how to do it, but I sort of raise this as an issue of what parliamentarians should do. They should try to develop a way of testing it down to the party level at some stage.
On question number two, if I understood it correctly, talking about the sort of contribution process and deputy ministers, committees, and all that sort of thing, one of the things that's very big on the contribution agreement is.... Some of them are huge, but as Mr. Williams mentioned to you, the committee can certainly ask for an evaluation of that. In the past this was a perfectly normal thing for a parliamentary committee to do—ask the government for an evaluation of it, and in that evaluation they might even suggest that they consult with the members of the committee in doing it. This is a way, at least it was in the past, where you could get information over a period of time and come to some kind of understanding of what this huge thing is and why it needs to be the way it is, and what might be wrong with it.