When we get into these situations, I usually like to preface my remarks by saying that these remarks are not necessarily for anyone around the table but rather for people at home who might be interested in how our democracy works.
You see, democracy is, for all intents and purposes, the exercise of power, despite what all the nice, fancy words come down to. And of course the exercise of power in a Parliament goes by the numerics of that Parliament. So the weakest in the chain likes to exercise as much power as the number that can possibly be permitted by the rules and regulations of the institution itself to take place, or more appropriately, usually, the ability of that individual or group of individuals to be able to use--some people would use the word “manipulate”--the tools at their disposal.
Mr. Harris is exactly and very much wrong when he says that this committee is very much different from municipal or other provincial legislative committees. This committee's job is to take a look at the minutiae and the finer details and to examine very closely, of course, not only the legislation passed down to it from Parliament but also anything else the committee chooses to entertain in its area of responsibility. Parliament as a whole, as a body of 308 individuals, very structured, very time-sensitive, cannot do that, whereas committees are very flexible and do not have the kinds of time constraints the House does. So this is exactly the same sort of reason that there are committees municipally, provincially, and of course federally.
When we talk about new Canadians perceiving the committee work, I would suggest that many new Canadians, if they come from a democracy, do come, usually, from democracies that have a republican system. But many come from countries governed by dictators and autocrats. This country is a constitutional monarchy. When you come to this country, you know that it is a constitutional monarchy, which means it's a democracy. And the crown is simply a symbol of the governing party or the government at the time.
So I think new Canadians would readily adapt to this system, because they know it's founded on democratic principles. Actually, if I may be so bold as to suggest, we get things done much faster than do most republican systems because of that, because of the Westminster style of governance. So I think new Canadians would readily adapt and appreciate the workings of this committee under the whole parliamentary system.
This committee is reflective of Parliament. The one thing, though, that is constant is this. They used to say there are two constants: death and taxes. Actually, there are three. And one of them is change. Change does not mean less or more respect. Change is just that. Things change. When we don't want to change, that's when we run into disrespect and many problems.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.