Mr. Speaker, the member for Provencher is quite right. He has helped to give the background to that unfortunate chapter in the history of the work of our committee.
We certainly wanted the testimony of two years ago to be applied to the current situation and put in context. The other reason we did that was it was clear that the previous public accounts committee had made a commitment to keep the testimony confidential.
Notwithstanding what games Chuck Guité himself was playing in terms of letting that testimony be heard earlier so that he could have a later appearance before our committee, we felt an obligation to respect the principles and practices of this place with respect to confidential testimony.
Let me say one more thing about heavy-handed tactics used at the committee by Liberal members. We have repeatedly, time and again, heard from members suggesting that the Auditor General really did not say it was $100 million. In fact the President of the Treasury Board even used a fictitious report to suggest it was $13 million. Time and again the member for Toronto—Danforth suggested that most of the $100 million could be accounted for.
They went after us any time we tried to raise questions about the $100 million, that it was a misrepresentation of the Auditor General's report, and of the facts. We clarified it with the Auditor General when she came back to our committee just a week or two ago. She said, “We view the conclusions of our audit as serious and troubling”. She went on to say:
It is not because of a lack of rules or procedures that were in place and it is important to understand how it was allowed, why it occurred and how it was allowed to happen for several years because if we do not understand that then how will be ensure that it doesn't happen again? I can assure you it is not because there aren't rules and procedures in place.
She gave us a very strong mandate to say that we are talking about at least $100 million and we are not sure that we got value for money. She said it could be more.
Let us not for a minute try to diminish the significance of the task at hand and try to suggest to Canadians that really it is a figment of our imagination. We know this is real. We know it is serious. If we do not get to the bottom of it, it is an insult to Canadians, it is an affront to Parliament and it certainly will not help restore confidence in democracy in Canada today.