Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Minister, for joining us today—to Mr. Knubley, as well.
You started out by saying any tough questions should go to Mr. Knubley, so perhaps I should direct them all that way at this point.
All kidding aside, thank you for taking the time to be with us today. I was hoping I was going to get to spend a couple of hours on the court with you in a month, but that's not going to happen.
I just wanted to take some snippets from your presentation today and apply them to some of the questions that I've been asking. I think other witnesses who have been giving testimony have been bringing this forward as well.
I'm just going to read a couple of pieces out. “As we've heard...in this committee, statistics should not be a partisan issue”, and in the past there have been statistical matters dealt with with little openness and transparency. Also, “more action is needed to ensure decisions on statistical matters are made independently and based on professional considerations.” More directly to the point we've heard “concerns about the representativeness” of the new council and the “potential for partisan appointments”. Finally, “As for why we're creating a new council, the rationale is simple: transparency and strategic focus.”
I guess what I want to get at is that I understand the words on paper. I also understand there are some things in this bill that do provide more power to the chief statistician. There are also movements that are taken away from that. This isn't a one-way train to openness, transparency, and keeping government out of the process in terms of statistics.
When I look back at previous appointments to the innovation committee, I see that five out of the 10 people were Liberal donors. We've had the president of MaRS on that committee, who then came back and made a recommendation to give clusters funding. I'll be interested to see what happens with that.
While I understand what you're putting on paper, I question whether the partisanship is not embedded directly into this bill to begin with. I think that the record shows that when these people are appointed there's already been a tinge of disappointment. It resulted in a $800-million fund brought forward in the budget. That's a huge concern when we're looking at statistics going forward.