I want to comment, maybe, or to ask some questions building upon some of the other questions that have come up.
Mr. Sorbara asked you about an independent mechanism, which as a committee we did discuss in the previous Parliament. There was cross-party support, I think. Certainly, I supported the idea of a different method by which the Auditor General's budget could be set, other than by going cap in hand and making a funding request.
As for how we got here, yes, it seemingly was not a problem until 2017. Even in 2011, with the deficit reduction act, which was optional for the Office of the Auditor General, the Auditor General of the day chose to accept and participate in the deficit reduction act. The Auditor General at the time thought it was the right thing to do to support the objective of the government of the day.
At that time, the Auditor General told the committee, which was chaired by our esteemed former colleague David Christopherson—and David reminded us of this repeatedly in the last Parliament—that it was going to hurt, but that they could do it, that they would participate and, yes, they had the resources to do what they needed to do.
What changed between then and 2017? I'm not even really interested in litigating that at committee. The point is that we need to have a way that your office can get the resources it needs to do its job without seeming like any other department that goes before Finance and Treasury Board and says, “Here are the things we would like to do and here is the budget we need.” The government of day has to say, “Well, you're competing with all these other interests. Here's what you're asking for, but we're not going to give you all of it—we're going to give you some.”
An independent officer of Parliament can't operate in that environment. An independent officer of Parliament, one who is as critical as the Auditor General, has to know that he has the resources. When you appeared at committee in the last Parliament, your response in the negative in answer to what is a standard question asked by every chair—“Do you have the resources to do your job?”—was unprecedented. It's a real problem.
It doesn't help Canadians for anybody to get into point-scoring or anything on this issue. I completely agree that we need to have an independent mechanism by which your office is resourced properly, and I'm very glad to hear that there's already discussion with PCO. I hope that this can just quietly happen and we can it put aside and not worry about whether or not you have enough money.
This brings me to the present context, where it's even more uncomfortable, Monsieur Ricard, in that you are appearing before us as the interim Auditor General. I understand that a permanent Auditor General for the next 10 years will have to be named within the next few weeks at the latest, I think. I'm not even certain what deadlines we're under. It is not fair to you or to anybody who holds your office, especially under an “interim” tag, to have to be involved in a budget submission that the Minister of Finance has to juggle among other competing priorities.
I don't know if I even have a question here. This is a rant and a recitation of some of the history. I'll ask you to comment on any of these points in whatever time I have left.