I haven't had a chance to finish my own remarks. You'll recall, Mr. Chair, that I just finished reading the motion.
Members would benefit from hearing the English version a second time, given that the break for the vote interrupted the flow of our discourse earlier. Just in case members have forgotten the motion as it's written now, I'll read it in English.
The motion is:
1. the Committee begin a subject matter study of Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019, and other measures on Monday, April 29, 2019, if the Bill itself has not yet been referred to the Committee;
2. the Committee hear from departmental officials on the subject matter of Bill C-97 on Monday, April 29, 2019, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.;
3. if Bill C-97 is referred to the Committee by the House during the subject matter study of the Bill, all evidence and documentation received in public in relation to its subject matter study of Bill C-97 be deemed received by the Committee in the context of its legislative study of Bill C-97;
4. the Clerk of the Committee write immediately to each Member of Parliament who is not a member of a caucus represented on the Committee, to inform them of the beginning of the subject matter study of Bill C-97 by the Committee and to invite them to start working on their proposed amendments to the Bill, which would be considered during the clause-by-clause study of the Bill;
5. Members of the Committee submit their prioritized witness lists for the study of Bill C-97 to the Clerk of the Committee by no later than noon on Thursday, April 18, 2019, and that these lists be distributed to Members that same day;
6. the Committee hear from witnesses on Bill C-97 from April 29, 2019, to May 16, 2019;
7. the Committee invite the Minister of Finance to appear on Bill C-97 on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and that officials appear from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., if necessary;
8. proposed amendments to Bill C-97 be submitted to the Clerk of the Committee in both official languages by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at the latest;
9. the Committee commence clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-97 on Monday, May 27, 2019, at 11:00 a.m., subject to the Bill being referred to the Committee;
10. the Chair may limit debate on each clause to a maximum of five minutes per party, per clause; and
11. if the Committee has not completed the clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill by 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, all remaining amendments submitted to the Committee shall be deemed moved, the Chair shall put the question, forthwith and successively, without further debate on all remaining clauses and proposed amendments, as well as each and every question necessary to dispose of clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill, as well as all questions necessary to report the Bill to the House and to order the Chair to report the Bill to the House as soon as possible.
Let us go through some of my concerns with the motion as currently written.
First of all, we would like to see the minister testify from 3:30 until 6:30 on May 1, 2019, rather than just from 3:30 to 5:00. We'd like to specify, or we want the wording to specify, that members may pose any questions to the minister related to this bill or his conduct as finance minister, and that the chair shall not interrupt such questioning. Three hours is a more reasonable amount of time than an hour and a half. Furthermore, we would limit the finance minister's opening remarks to no more than 10 minutes so that we can focus on questioning. The finance minister had a chance to give a speech in the House of Commons. He doesn't need to repeat it here. Any members who are concerned about his opening statement can refer themselves to his very lengthy opener during the budget introduction in the House of Commons. If they have any confusion whatsoever about either what's in the budget or what the finance minister thinks of the budget, that speech can answer those questions. Therefore, we don't need to burn committee time listening to him speak for half an hour. That is our principal request.
Second, points 10 and 11 are particularly objectionable, because they restrict our ability to properly debate this omnibus budget bill. Last year, we all stumbled upon a very strange section of the previous omnibus budget that gave us deferred prosecution agreements. Few in this room understood the consequences of that amendment.
To your credit, Mr. Chair, you acknowledged that deferred prosecution agreements did not belong in the budget bill. Mr. Fergus likewise, and very presciently, acknowledged the problems with that section of the bill. The foresight that Mr. Fergus exhibited in that debate is quite startling, now that we have seen events unfold subsequently. I don't know; maybe Mr. Fergus can jump in on this discussion and tell us if he was able to foreshadow just how important his predictions of trouble would become. If you look at the last three months of discourse in this country and you match that discourse with Mr. Fergus's observations, you can only conclude that he has a degree of clairvoyance that is quite frankly terrifying. That he could have foreshadowed so much trouble in so few words is really impressive....