It is now 1:35 p.m. The meeting has been going on since 11 a.m. this morning. I'm just taking the time to get myself set up, since this is my first speech.
Just like you, we have activities in our ridings. The people who are listening to us today have the opportunity to see us in person and see that we are hard at work in Ottawa. Yes, we are working. I should give them a bit of background about what is going on, however.
Under Standing Order 106(4), we can sign a written request to call a meeting when, unfortunately, we are unable to obtain certain answers on a given issue. As indicated in the wording of the request, the reason why I supported my Conservative colleagues in making this request is that, unfortunately, I could not get the answers to my questions.
During the last parliamentary session, I was constantly amazed at how much room was left for different interpretations. In life, I have always been told to get to the bottom of things to make sure whether what is being said is true or false.
In the last hour and a half, according to what has been put on the table—and this is a perception, I want to emphasize that—there seemed to be nothing wrong, nothing to worry about. We told ourselves from the outset that everything was perfect, that this meeting would be so uncomplicated, for once, that we could take the time left to us to work in our ridings and meet the people we have only seen virtually all year. Personally, I found that reassuring. I thought it would be a simple meeting, since the colleagues opposite had absolutely nothing to worry about. I thought it would be a two-hour meeting to shed some light on the subject of the written request made under Standing Order 106(4).
We were asked what was the point of doing this at this time, between two parliamentary sessions. In fact, the work is still going on. The House of Commons is actually open. I'm very happy that we can see each other in person, that feels good. I was told that I was dancing behind the screen. What we're experiencing right now is a bit like what I have experienced. I was introduced to this along with all of you. For hours and hours, we have heard speeches that often ran counter to the proposals before the committee, just to kill time. We keep hearing people saying we don't want to waste time, but we are wasting time. They say they want to get to the bottom of this, but they don't want to allow us the opportunity to ask questions.
In fact, what we should be asking is why things are so complicated today. Anyone who has nothing to hide or fear should be willing to go ahead and get to the bottom of things. Sadly, someone made a speech saying that they felt threatened. That's a defence mechanism. I will say to the people who are listening to us that this is perfectly normal, this is what happens in committee.
However, here is what it's like in real life. It's summertime. We are not sure what's coming up. According to my schedule, I will be back with you on September 20, in person. That will be very exciting. In the meantime, I don't want to repeat what we did last summer. I am convinced that none of you want to do that.
Some people feel that if you open the door once, you'll have to open it the next time too. The proof is in the pudding: We have already opened the door, based on an item we had. There were no worries, everything was perfect, we were going to meet the following week. There may be other proposals; it depends on what people want to do.
Trust and transparency issues fall under the purview of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. We are an oversight committee. Every committee has its strength. Ours is very considerable, and equally important.
It is easy to say that we are trying to look for dirt and dig where there is nothing to dig up. Beyond all that, we are demonstrating something to people. Essentially, technically, the results shouldn't be a big surprise. We simply saw, and I will reiterate, that 95% of the Liberal MPs paid $30,000 to Data Sciences and the Liberal Party paid $1 million to NGP VAN. Accordingly, we want to ask the founder of Data Sciences some questions. If things look good, this will be over; if they don't, then something else will happen. People need to know what's going on.
People say time is precious. I'm sure some of my colleagues have meetings scheduled in their ridings in an hour. I myself have one at 5 p.m. People want to see us. They also want to see that we're not wasting our time. Well, we have just shown them that we did waste our time. At this point, I think that by 2 p.m. we will have finished hearing from everyone who wanted to speak. We are ready. Everyone has spoken. We all know how the vote will turn out. Let's vote on the amendment. Soon, when we feel comfortable and we are in agreement, we can vote on the motion.
Why should we do this? I think that the clerk has the right to enjoy her summer, too. We can do our work and our planning efficiently and effectively.
You know where I stand. We still agree on the basic wording. The work will resume on September 20. There will be requests then, but we will be able to stay focused.