In response to the remarks made by Mr. Whalen and Ms. Ratansi, I would say that the current process is very positive.
I think that Canadian society has enjoyed a fine democracy since 1867 because the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party has always been in power. I'm aware of that fact, and I recognize it.
The Liberals, however, have a tendency to pursue any reform with great haste, which can sometimes be a very good thing. It has led to legislation that has improved our democracy.
The Conservatives are politically inclined to be more cautious and adopt a more gradual approach in their analysis of proposed reforms. That, too, has been extremely beneficial to Canada's democracy, preventing the adoption of certain reforms that would have hurt the political freedom not just of Canadians, but also of members.
Mr. Whalen, you said the purpose of the reform was to make sure members do a better job of holding the government to account by having access to figures that are more accurate than those provided for under the current process. You may be right, except that the change would shorten that accountability period, which Mr. McCauley and I believe is fundamental, as I'm sure you do. The proposed reform would shorten that absolutely crucial period.
All House of Commons committees have to scrutinize the main estimates. Ms. Ratansi said it would be useful to see how much time we had spent studying the main estimates last year, but we would need to start by knowing how much time all House of Commons committees had spent studying those estimates. If we are to proceed logically and rationally, we would need to determine how much time all House of Commons committees had spent studying the estimates since 1867. We can't consider only the amount of time spent last year before concluding that, at the end of the day, it had taken less time than previously thought.
There's something else I'd like to talk about, the third pillar, which deals with vote structure. Again, I was taken aback by the senior official's response when he appeared before the committee, and I say that with all due respect. He said that, right now, in Ontario and Quebec, the provincial government can transfer money from one program to another. That gives rise to transparency issues and opens the door to one program serving as a front for another.
To fix that problem, Ontario and Quebec capped the proportion of funding that a ministry can transfer from one program to another at 10%. I asked the official whether the proposed reform would establish a limit on the maximum amount of funding that could be transferred from one program to another. He said no. Therefore, the third pillar, vote structure, is another concern of ours.
Rather than continue talking, I will turn the floor over to you so you can respond to what I just said.