Mr. Speaker, in the last Parliament that member and his colleagues voted in favour of many motions that delivered explicit instructions to committees to undertake particular studies and to do so within specifically prescribed timelines. That member has voted in favour of those initiatives many times.
This motion is about creating a committee. I believe in the independence of committees, but it is hard for a committee to be independent if it has not yet been created. This motion brings a committee into existence, which could then exercise its independence over its agenda. Paragraph (k) in our motion gives the committee the power to call certain ministers and the Prime Minister to appear as it sees fit. It retains the authority of the committee.
During the election, the Munk School wanted to have a debate about foreign policy. All of the other party leaders agreed, but the Prime Minister refused. He did not want to have a debate about his approach to foreign policy. It is therefore very legitimate in this Parliament to have the committee hearings and the discussions that the Prime Minister was unwilling to have during the election, and to force the Prime Minister to answer difficult questions about this vital foreign policy file in a way that he was unwilling to during the election.
These are vital issues, and this Parliament is very much the place where those things can be discussed. We can direct committees to have the tools to do it. We are not prescribing which ministers will be called and when. However, we need to be clear in this motion that when the committee asks for a minister or for the Prime Minister to attend and testify, it is not acceptable for the Prime Minister or the minister to simply refuse to show up. That has happened in the past, when ministers and the Prime Minister have been unavailable to the needs of the committee to hear information from them.
This section gives the committee the flexibility, but it also empowers the committee, so that when the committee says that it needs to hear from the Prime Minister, he cannot do what he did during the election for the Munk debates and just refuse to show up. He would actually need to show up and answer the challenging but important questions members of Parliament would put to him.