Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, minister. Thank you for joining us this morning.
First, Her Majesty's official opposition wants to strongly reiterate that any change that may bring more transparency and align main estimates and supplementary estimates is in itself laudable.
Second, in theory, we are clearly talking about a reform of budgetary appropriations and of the process related to budgetary appropriations. However, it would also appear that, behind the facade, we are talking about a fundamental reform of Canada's parliamentary democracy, and I will tell you why. I believe that there are currently two opposing philosophies. There are two fundamental premises that you have indirectly addressed.
First is the premise where parliamentarians can better understand the budgetary processes—in other words, supplementary estimates and main estimates. That is the first premise. No one can be against it because it is good.
The second premise, which you also addressed, is the need for and importance of making the government responsible and accountable for its actions, including the budget, which is basically the government's main tool.
Those are the two opposing premises. When we look at our country's last 150 years, I think that our founding fathers and parliamentarians clearly chose the second premise. They chose the premise that tries to make the government responsible and accountable through the oversight of the use of public funds. Here is my question on that matter.
I want to bring you back to the mandate letter the Prime Minister publicly addressed to you. The fourth priority is to:
Strengthen the oversight of taxpayer dollars and the clarity and consistency of financial reporting. Ensure consistency and maximum alignment between the estimates [...]
That sentence shows the clash between the two premises. Your reform proposes clarity and consistency of financial reporting, as well as consistency and alignment of the estimates. On the contrary, your reform does not seem to really ensure and strengthen the oversight of public funds. We even have the impression that it's doing the opposite.
You yourself said:
more meaningful—okay, but government accountability, and the responsibility is less.
So there are two opposing premises and we, on this side of the House, want to ensure that the second premise, which has been maintained by parliamentarians for 150 years, will not be changed lightly. In addition, you are talking about a second standing order. Will there soon be a third one?
What do you have to say about the clash between those two philosophical premises that are important for our country's parliamentary democracy?