Very good. Thank you, Chair.
Minister, thank you very much for coming. I've congratulated you privately. Let me publicly congratulate you on your ascension to cabinet.
While I have a moment, I will also give my public congratulations in addition to my private ones to my colleague Filomena Tassi, who has also been appointed deputy whip of the government. I wish both of you well. I know you'll do a great job.
Minister, thank you so much for being here. As you can appreciate, this is like the last meeting with your predecessor. These really aren't meet-and-greets, hi-how-are-you courtesy meetings. We specifically called you in to deal with a couple of issues that are affecting our work. I can't go too far. We're limited because it's in camera work, but I don't think it's any big secret that the work at committee has seized up until we get these issues resolved. I can't get into the specifics, but we need some answers here that will allow us to get back to work, so I'm going to be dealing with some rather mundane issues to most people, but they are critically important for us.
You stated that you have deep respect for committees. I've heard this from the government. The Prime Minister enunciated it during the campaign all the way through and said committees were going to matter and were going to be respected. That's the issue. One of the big issues was that we were in the midst, as you rightly alluded to, of going through the Chief Electoral Officer's report. We were doing good work. We had our sleeves rolled up. We were identifying things that we could quickly agree on and setting aside the harder things that we needed to spend time on. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Bill C-33 landed with a thud in the middle of our work.
It left us with a real problem, because if you say you respect the work of the committees, then it would have made sense for you to wait until we had issued at least some reports to give some advice on legislation you might be considering. But the way it was done, there was total disregard for the work we're doing. It left us—me anyway, I'll speak for myself—feeling that it is a make-work project. Why bother doing all this if the government is going to ignore it and just do what it wants?
There is that issue. Then the second, somewhat attached issue is this. I appreciate Mr. Graham's raising it, and you did allude to it in part, but I really need something clear on this, Minister, with respect. The second part of this is going forward. I had said we wanted an absolute guarantee that you aren't going to do that again. Mr. Chan and Mr. Graham argued that we could appreciate that the government can't give that kind of a blanket assurance in case we get bogged down. I understood all that. Again, I think you made some reference to that in your remarks.
What we were looking for was respect for our process, to find some way we could communicate so we would know what you are considering and you would ask us if we would turn our attention to that particular area to give you our thinking and to help advise you. You can choose to take it or not, but to just continue to produce electoral reform bills—and, by the way, as you know, getting rid of some of that awful unfair elections act stuff is a priority.... But procedures matter and committees matter, so we need some assurance that the work we are doing is actually meaningful and that the government is considering it; otherwise, why would we bother doing it? We would just go on to other things.
I'm looking for two things, if you will. One is an acknowledgement that the government was wrong. An apology would be nice and not that difficult, because it really was so wrong and disrespectful. Second, I'd like a further undertaking that there will be more dialogue so that we can actually do work that does help inform your decisions in a timely way.
Thank you, Chair.