Mr. Speaker, I have been extremely careful since coming to this responsibility not to comment on the agenda of the commission.
Let me say that immediately upon becoming Minister of National Defence I said at that point that I hoped and we expected the commission would report by March 31, as its mandate called for. That should not have come as a surprise to anyone.
Subsequent to that, based on a request by the commission, the government for the third time extended the hearing period and has asked it to report by the end of June. There is no question that if the commissioners decided they were not going to call certain witnesses then obviously they could not appear to testify.
The decision always rested, since March 15, 1995, with respect to who would be called and what would be done with the commissioners and not the government. They chose the road they
did and they were completely at liberty to do that. However, the government did make the decision that it was in the best interest of the Canadian forces in turning the corner on what we have to do to ask the commissioners, after three extensions, to report by June 30.