Mr. Speaker, let me first say that the hon. member's comments are more than just laughable. They are incredible in their very nature, since I recall not too long ago, when there was another commission that was brought before the public of Canada. It was called the Gomery commission.
The only difference between that commission and the public inquiry that this Prime Minister is proposing we have is that the terms of reference for the Gomery commission were set by the government of the day. Why should that not happen? It seems my hon. colleague is fairly critical about this government not setting its own terms of reference, but going outside to an independent third party.
As Justice Gomery himself said in his report, because of the narrowness and the restrictions placed upon him in the terms of reference given to him to conduct his commission, there was over $40 million of taxpayers' money that he could not account for because he was prevented from trying to find out where that money went, due to the restrictive nature of the terms of reference placed upon him by the sitting government.
We clearly are not going down that road. We are asking an independent third party, an eminent Canadian, to set the terms of reference to guide this public inquiry. That is far more appropriate, in my opinion, than anything the opposition, the former Government of Canada, had done in the Gomery commission inquiry.
However, we have done more than that. In total, in terms of information access and transparency concerns that the member opposite raises, I want to give a sense of some of the things that this government has done in making sure that this government is not only more transparent and accountable but that we have given more access to ordinary Canadians in finding out information about this government.
We have many additional crown corporations that were not previously covered under the Access to Information Act that are now covered, for example, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Via Rail, Atomic Energy of Canada, the National Arts Centre, and the list goes on.
The Federal Accountability Act is about making government more open and more transparent, and providing Canadians with greater access to information. The Federal Accountability Act, as we all know, is the strongest piece of anti-corruption legislation that this country has ever seen, and it was initiated and brought forward into the legislative realm by this government.
As all members of the House know and as my hon. colleague across the floor knows, the administration of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act is not of a political nature. It is a legal obligation. Decisions regarding what information needs to be protected or released are based in law.
Parliament recognized that the public right of access to information needed to be balanced against the legitimate need to protect sensitive information to permit the effective functioning of government. In fact, the provisions of the act allow for the access of information on a variety of government operations. At the same time, it protects some of the very important information, such as the right of Canadians to privacy and the right of Canadian business to keep critical commercial information.
This government has shown it is very effective. In fact, last year the government processed a record of almost 29,500 access to information requests, far more than any other government in history.