Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the private member's business put forth by my colleague from St. Albert with regard to adopting the report on the business of supply.
I am reminded of people who get up nowadays to watch the 10 o'clock news. If we watch the news at fixed times, events unfold. We have a thing called real time and everyone knows that if we want real time news we go to CNN.
In the world today events unfold and there is technology and knowledge, yet the House and a lot of politicians fudge things. They make the way we address spending and the way we do business very political.
I will make a small point with regard to the ability of all citizens to monitor the government quickly and reliably. The government should have a transparent way of talking to people. To get the people's approval it should show them charts and explain the realities of what it is trying to do. That is done, as the member for St. Albert should know, by putting everything on the Internet where everyone can see it.
The previous speaker had some good ideas. He said the minister should appear before committee. There is nothing wrong with doing that at any time.
The member for St. Albert and his committee did some great work. The government was not sitting on its hands. It responded a number of times. In 1994 it tabled plans and priorities in the House. In 1996 the treasury board came up with performance objectives, which helped a bit. In 1997 House leaders got together and formed the modernization committee. Its work is ongoing and its recommendations are being worked on.
The member for St. Albert mentioned that the president of the treasury board in the year 2000 had a policies and evaluation report and a better method of accounting to parliament. Part of the recommendation is that we have some fundamental principles in the House. Through the act of 1867 the member is asking that the confidence convention on supply be reduced.
What are the implications of this request? It is probably a matter of debate. I do not have a lot of time today to discuss the pros and cons. However the current system functions well once we apply the initial reason the gentlemen quite rightfully put that in the act of 1867. It probably would have required a constitutional amendment and constitutional amendments are problematic, to say the least.
They are asking that they be empowered to increase or reallocate funds. We were elected as a government to do exactly that. We were elected to make sure we table the estimates, and we have done so.
The people elected our government based on a platform. In the platform are clearly stated priorities and objectives we want to accomplish. We were elected on that and we are accountable to that. We are not only accountable to the electorate but at the grassroots we have fireside chats with Canadians on a regular basis. The policies are fed back to the ministers who must account to the grassroots for how the policies are followed.
The events of the modernization committee have overtaken the recommendation. The member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough alluded to it. He said this was in the parliament of 1993, and we are now into 2001. We have a whole lot of new players in the House and we understand how these things are done.
I was parliamentary secretary to the president of the treasury board. I was there when the program was reviewed. I know all those lines and am one of the few who knows exactly where the money should be spent. I have gone to the Senate for the estimates so I understand something about the dynamics of spending.