You asked two other questions. One is on how you would go about informing, educating, in a sense, members of other committees about the importance of the estimates process. I thought Peter is by far in the best position to answer that. He's been in the business for a long time.
The other question you asked had to do with what's called the budget in Canada, and the estimates, which in every other country in the world is also part of the budget. I'm exaggerating. In many countries of the world it's brought together and they seem to be able to do it. My guess is—but I don't know—for the countries that do have it together, I don't get the impression that they do a whole lot better job. I'm not sure why that is.
But I do think in the parliamentary system we have, where the government is going to fall if you don't approve their budget, that most of the time it's not going to fall. Most of the time they won't accept these things. You have to be looking at the estimates in a lot longer term than the process of “it's this week to do it”. It's those MPs, and there were a number of them in past Parliaments—I could name them—who took two or three years to get a very important change made. I think in the estimates process, all the parliamentary dynamics say, “Work, work, work. We have to get it done today”, and that's exactly the wrong thing. You have to see it as a longer term job and develop expertise among the different members of your party.
One of the MPs at the time was a member of the Liberal Party. And the Liberal Party was taking an awful lot of public heat and was called all kinds of nasty things for always voting with the government. I got to know him quite well. There were some votes that made no sense whatever to me, so I asked him, “How come you vote for these stupid things?” He said, “Well, do you know how many votes I make in a year in the House?” I don't know the number. He said 3,000. I have no idea. He said, “I can only personally study about 30 issues in depth. What do you do when you don't have enough time to do something? You go to the people you trust and they happen to be your party colleagues. So if I'm voting with them, it's not all that surprising, is it?” I had to agree that, no, it's not.