Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all of the ministers and your officials who are here today.
I am going to perhaps take a little bit of a different tack. We also wish to speak about the main estimates here as well, and after spending four years on public accounts, it's something that I do have a certain amount of interest in.
Here are just a couple of the highlights. The Canadian Space Agency, there is recognition that 16.4% of its voted appropriations were not spent. This is a normal type of situation that occurs. These are things that do happen.
With the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, certainly some changes have been made there. It's a different request that you have, especially for SSHRC, in its requesting only $1.9 million for specific projects in 2016-17. Of course, there's the Canada first research excellence fund, and how it is being split within the various participating agencies.
These are some of the things that we do see. In the main estimates, we look at what is involved with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council with increases in various areas....
In some of the discussions that I've had with these organizations and, of course, as was mentioned by Mr. Arseneault, and also our colleges and universities and polytechnics there, they're looking at ways to make sure that the dollars that are being allocated are allocated in a manner that is going to help innovation. It's to make sure that we have the incubators that are there. I think when you have your discussions with those officials they'll be very pleased to be able to expand upon some of their concerns and issues.
Minister Bains, one of the things that you mentioned in your notes had to do with supporting clean tech. As someone who lives six miles from 53 windmills, I take a look at the energy that is actually used in order to produce them, and try to find out the information on just how many years that one windmill would have to spin before we actually pay for that. For someone that lives in the province of Alberta where we have the best, the cleanest technology in the world as far as our oil and natural gas is concerned, I don't see any mention about oil and natural gas.
What I see is clean tech, as though that is the only definition that this government is able to deal with.
I don't see it particularly in the budget, as I had gone through it. Again, you speak in the budget about how a low business investment is the biggest single drag on Canada's economic growth. This is one of the critical aspects that we have right now, where we have companies and businesses that are saying that there's no way we can invest in certain areas. The assumption is, well, don't worry. We have green tech. We have this tech; we have that tech. You'll have lots of places to put your money, but where's that money going to come from in the next few years?
These are the issues that we have. Of course, there are arguments that we have with regard to whether or not we should be able to get our natural resources to tidewater—these are critical components as well in discussions—recognizing that the oil used as people were driving here does not come from Canada. It is from countries such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and Iran. The dollars that are spent, the income that comes from those countries is not spent on the infrastructure that we need.
Therefore, if we can make sure that we have Canadian oil and gas industries treated fairly and looked at in a positive light rather than only this one direction, I think you'll find we'll do as we have always done, which is to lead the world as far as technology is concerned and lead the world as far as regulations are concerned. I believe we'll find there is going to be an extremely positive position from there.
I see you're very close to the button, Mr. Chair. When I get a chance later, I would then like to speak about some of the issues as far as Statistics Canada is concerned, and small businesses.