Thank you, Mr. Drouin, for your insight. It's much appreciated.
Not only are you looking at a single year, but you are also focusing on just standing committees and not committees of the whole. More importantly, you didn't mention Canadians. They may not be here in this room, but there are Canadians—and it may be hard to believe even if they aren't university professors or members of interest groups—who review the main estimates themselves. Some of them may very well want to send a letter or write an email to their MP to ask about what is going on. That, too, has to be taken into account.
Ms. Ratansi, it is true—and the chair, himself, mentioned it—that the main estimates are somewhat hard to make sense of given that they are examined prior to the budget. I understand the problem, but I'm having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the argument that it doesn't work. We have been doing it this way for 150 years. Canada is an incredible country with the seventh largest economy in the world. The government does work fairly well, then. There's no need for urgency, no reason to panic. We are talking about a major reform.
Ms. Ratansi, you said we shouldn't be circling the wagon, but that may be what your minister is doing. That brings me to Mr. Whalen's comment that it might not be appropriate for this committee to study the process for considering the main estimates. In 2012, however, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates did, in fact, study the process for considering the estimates and supply. The committee addressed the alignment of the budget and the estimates in recommendation 6 of its report, which reads as follows:
That, to the extent possible, the budget items for a given year are reflected in the main estimates for that same year; and therefore that the government present its budget in the House of Commons no later than February 1 of each year; that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs pursue amendments to the Standing Orders, procedure and practice of the House of Commons in order to move the date on which the main estimates are presented to the House back to a later date in March; and that the Committee report to the House on its study by March 31, 2013.
Therefore, Ms. Ratansi, if you don't want us to keep circling the wagon, perhaps your minister should have taken into account that recommendation, which was issued by this very same committee, but with a different membership, in 2012. We aren't going in circles: concerns were raised and published four years ago, in 2012. Supposedly, we are drawing on Australia's model, but I can't see why we don't simply follow Australia's model. It has an identical parliamentary system to ours, and its government determined that the budget and main estimates should be presented on the same day. I don't feel that we are going in circles. Quite the contrary, actually—we are discussing an extremely important matter.