Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I plan to show you that I have not lost my touch, at least I hope I haven't.
Thank you for your testimony. I have two matters to bring up and not a lot of time to do it.
Times have changed in terms of transparency, and that is a good thing. You gave us a great example of that earlier on.
For the Bloc Québecois, it is quite normal for the public, and, by extension, the media, to be able to have access to our expenses, given that people have questions about them. It is their money, after all. We feel that this is a very important question.
With expenses posted, we might look forward to the time when even more details may be available on the Internet. Ms. May, for example, pointed out the costs of air travel. We do not know whether a member flew economy or business class, nor how many times he or she did so. But we know that business class is much more expensive. This possibility would answer the public's question about that.
My first question is for you, Ms. O'Brien, or for the person with you. It is about the importance of protecting privacy. We have a law about that. People might want to know whom we are meeting with, and why.
Also, there are all those cases of whistleblowing, including the one at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, where the person was fired because of the revelations she made.
Someone meeting with an opposition member of Parliament could be targeted by the government. It would not matter who, because in the list of expenses, you could see that they went to a restaurant, for example. I am sure that you will tell me that people will be more careful in cases like that. But it is a problem that we should think about.
Everyone feels that their consciences are clear by saying that they want more transparency. But it not the same for everyone at the moment. And it has to be. We cannot ask each member of Parliament to reveal more and more all the time, as if this was the dance of the seven veils.
The other part of my question deals with independence. Mr. Watters, you made me sit up and take notice when you said we have to be careful. Yes, but sometimes there is nothing better than a real example for showing the importance of independence.
With the exception of the Liberals, every party has been non-recognized at some stage, when they had fewer than 12 members. A non-recognized party can be subject to the scrutiny of the Board of Internal Economy. I will not remind you of the case, but it has happened to us, as you know full well. But despite our requests to the Board of Internal Economy and to the other parties, everyone washed their hands of the matter and it was decided that the discussions would be held without the party there. It took several meetings and, because it all went on behind closed doors, we knew nothing about it. This ties in with what my colleagues said earlier.
We suffered the consequences after the fact. In my opinion, the Board lacked all credibility and legitimacy in that study, given that the people affected were not able to be there.
So, in terms of independence, I also feel that there is certainly some room for improvement.
Could you comment on the two points I have raised?