Mr. Speaker, I also want to give our party's support for a committee on national security. It would be a positive thing to have.
I also want to register my disappointment that in her remarks today the minister did not make any reference to the charges that were made by the Auditor General the other day about major problems in terms of the work she has done in terms of national security. It would have been very helpful if she would have made a comment today in response to the Auditor General. Those were very serious charges and they should have been responded to by the minister responsible.
We do support the establishment of this particular committee. It comes as part of the democratic reform package of the government. However I want to point out one thing that counteracts democratic reform.
The Liberals are talking about this being a joint committee of parliamentarians, members of the House of Commons and members of the Senate. Members of the Senate are not elected and are not accountable. It is not a democratic institution and this is part of democratic reform. I am sure this committee should be a committee of elected parliamentarians.
I see the parliamentary secretary smiling. He knows the point I make. He knows the member from Sarnia would make exactly the same speech if he were speaking in the House today on this particular issue. If we are serious about parliamentary reform then there is no place in a modern democratic society for a legislative body that is not accountable to the people of the country.
When we appoint people to a commission, such as the CRTC or any other commission, those people are accountable because they have term limitations and are accountable to the government and to the House of Commons. When their terms expire they are replaced by someone else. Some of those commissions review regulations and some issue licences. They are not institutions that are legislative bodies that make decisions on public policy.
I say to the government across the way that the Prime Minister speaks loudly when it comes to democratic reform but he tiptoes through the tulips when it comes to any real reform of democratic institutions. This is another indication today of the Prime Minister not changing anything in terms of democratic reform.
The committee to be established would review security in the country, which is a very positive thing and something we certainly support. We support the idea that it will have broad responsibilities for issues of national security.
The second thing I want to stress is the non-partisan environment. Security is too important an issue to be controlled by a partisan agenda. I want to suggest, and I wish the minister was here, that the committee be composed of an equal number of government and opposition MPs so it will be truly non-partisan in nature. I would like the government to take a look at that as a possibility.
The committee should also have broad access to information because, without that, it will be ineffective and any work it does will be superficial at best.
Finally, the sensitive nature of the information must be respected by all members of the committee but, at the same time, it should not amount to a gag order on members of the committee being unable to speak out about national security.
We support this. I wish the minister had commented on the Auditor General's report. I also wish the government would not put members of the Senate, the unelected and undemocratic body, on this particular parliamentary committee.