Thank you, Chair.
I have just a few comments, some of them from the benefit of hindsight.
Like the chair, I've sat in opposition on this committee. I've sat on this committee with minority status and I'm sitting on this committee now in a majority status. One of the problems we have is that we operate without a subcommittee. There are pros and cons with all of that. My preference has been to see a subcommittee work effectively and efficiently. It streamlines our work here and eliminates a lot of the problems that come forward.
The disturbing part of all this—and I say this with all honesty—is that we started off this committee with a subcommittee. Though I may be taken to task for stating this, the opposition filibustered the subcommittee. I couldn't believe it. We were trying to come to decisions, and we had complete blockage and obfuscation at the subcommittee, which rendered the subcommittee useless. It disturbed me a great deal sitting there as a member on the subcommittee, trying to come to some form of agreement.
Mr. Allen recognized my frustration at that point, because we had to move forward. Unfortunately, we were not able to do so. This was not just one occasion. I've never seen this before in Parliament, not being able to move forward at a subcommittee. I don't know if it was a strategy, and I'm not going to suggest it was, or if it was just individuals with a peculiar focus and a set direction. But it's the first time since I've been in Parliament that a subcommittee was rendered useless. I thought it was tragic, and I believed we would feel the implications of it down the road. Well, here we are now.
I support the government on this position. The government did not play a role in it. We did not play a role in blocking that subcommittee. Unfortunately, the opposition did, and it should take responsibility for it.
I was deeply discouraged. Now here we are, going through the same thing that we could have handled effectively at subcommittee. But the purpose was to take any decisions or potential sensitivities or anything where we could find the hair in between and just refuse to do it. They wanted everything to be totally out of camera so they could make more political points. Once that happens, then you really start to lose trust in being able to work together. That is where this all started, and I say that with all honesty.
Maybe I'll respond to Mr. McKay's assertion. I respect Mr. McKay as a member in good standing, of long standing, a member with a solid reputation here on the Hill. However, Mr. McKay was probably not aware of how the priority of the F-35 study was progressing.
There were six chapters. If the government had wished to use the weight of its majority, it would not have had to study the F-35 first. We could have moved the priority. We could be talking about the F-35 six months from now instead of today. But it was a government initiative, and we recognized some realities and some government concerns. So we decided to make this a priority. We agreed and made the motion to advance the study and make it a priority. That was done in good faith.
There might have been some people even within the government, at different levels, who might not have appreciated that. But the committee made that deliberation fairly and honestly, knowing that the opposition was not going to object to the study. It was a clear statement of fact. There was certainly no obfuscation on behalf of the government in moving forward on the F-35s. We have more than cooperated in advancing this as a priority.
We moved out of camera last time. As Mr. Allen has said, we expected to be in camera on this. Quite frankly, so did I. My personal preference was to be in camera, simply to maintain the consistency of our process. But then a number of people said no, let's make an exception to demonstrate good faith. Quite frankly, some people could misconstrue that as an opportunity to play to the media.
Let's just deal in good faith. Let's move forward. Let's see how it works. Can we effectively do this? Of course, what happened right off the bat? There was complete politicization of the process. Complete. We saw what happened at this committee. I don't have to remind my colleagues of what took place at this committee and how we became effectively neutered through the entire meeting. We simply, once again, had another filibuster, and away we went again. We just were not effective.
It didn't work, unfortunately. I wish it had worked.
If Mr. Ravignat and I have a difference of opinion, by golly, let's have it, with no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We move forward. We have some different thoughts. We bring motions. I would love to get back to that. But right now, we've moved this committee, regretfully, into a procedural process rather than an investigation-of-facts process. It's to the detriment of Canada and to the detriment, I think, of the parties involved at the committee level.
I'm disappointed. I don't know how we're going to get over this, Chair, I really don't, because the genie's out of the bottle on this. Everybody wants to move forward on this for their own political purposes. The opposition simply wants to grab hold of this chain and keep yanking it until there's no more life left in the chain. I understand that. The government, obviously, will at some point want to say fine, we have other business, so let's move on. I think we all recognize those realities.
I'm just suggesting to my colleagues that as we move forward, we all take a little deeper breath on an issue like this. And when the floor is given, hopefully there will be a clear indication of why. If it's to go in camera, obviously, there's a reason for that. But I would hope that once we are in camera, the discussion as to why could maybe take place. If at some particular point either the government or the opposition has a great deal of difficulty with that, then let's see if we can talk our way through it and get it resolved.
Chair, I would deeply love to have this committee get back on track. I really would. I have worked on this committee for eight years.
It's certainly no reflection on the chair. As I mentioned, I believe that your decision on this was wrong, but that's fine. That's just a difference of opinion, and we're entitled to that. If I didn't say that, I wouldn't be honest with the chair.
I would hope that we would move forward. I'm not going to belabour the point now. Denying the government an opportunity, in the chair's description of fairness, I think, quite frankly, isn't fair. It isn't fair, as I said in my comment earlier, to say to the government that because you have the majority, we'll listen to the opposition and let them talk, and if they want to make a motion, it's the same thing; we know you want to go in camera, supposedly, so by the time it comes to you, we're just going to hold you off.
It really makes things a challenge for the effective operation of this committee.
I will make a last point, Chair. I don't know what the precedent is for this. The chair might be totally right in his statement. I don't know. Right off the bat, the chair said that when you have the floor, there will be no motions. Is that the way it works? Does the chair have that latitude and luxury to say that if I have the floor now, I'm prohibited from making a motion? I've never heard of that before. If it is within the rights of the chair to dictate that, if the chair did that simply to try to move this meeting forward and have a pre-meeting before the meeting so that it wouldn't complicate this situation, fine. I can appreciate that. My concern, of course, is what kind of precedent that sets. Is it a process we follow, or is this an exception to the rule to sort of speed up our process?
I don't know. If the chair could at some point—maybe not now, because he might not have the answer—provide some clarification on that.... And it doesn't have to be publicly; it can be privately. It's not my role to try to put anybody on the spot here or make things difficult for someone, but I think we do have to have some clear rules moving forward, and I would certainly appreciate some clarification at an appropriate time on that.