Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Stanton, for your presentation, and to all of you for the work that you've done.
I'm going to start by saying that—at least for me, and I think for most members of Parliament on this board—we don't want to see, three years from now, costs escalating yet again, there seeming to be no answers as to why, and the taxpayer looking back on us and saying that we said yes to this without really giving it thorough oversight.
When I see the differences, for example, in the square footage that we were given as the small, medium and large options, which are being changed today, the explanation sounds reasonable to me, but at the same time it's not something I'm an expert on. I'm concerned that the same thing could happen with the costs. When we're talking about a 38% escalation cost, if you tell us that's normal, we believe you.
I guess what I'm asking is this: Can the taxpayer, and those of us who are members of Parliament representing the taxpayer, be assured that there is somebody there and that there is a check there so that these costs won't escalate even further? It's just like the square footage. There's a reasonable answer as to why we were given different square footage amounts a while ago, as compared to today. Can we be assured that these costs will not escalate beyond this 38%?
In the private sector, there's somebody paying the bill; there's a business case being made, and that usually helps provide checks and balances. I absolutely understand that in this setting we don't have that, but I, for one, want to be able to look the taxpayer in the eye and say that we, as members of Parliament on BOIE, did everything we could to ensure that these costs didn't escalate and that there wasn't a blank cheque given.
I would like some assurances around that. I'll leave that as a comment, and maybe somebody wants to speak to it.
I do have a specific question. I think Mr. Wright referred to the excavation changes. Is there an update? I think the previous number was $48 million for that cost. I'm just wondering if that is changing, and whether we'll be given updates on that.
Second, in regard to the decision we're being asked to make, are we actually making a decision, or are we giving the minister our position? I know that recently the state broadcaster reported that BOIE recommended the $733-million option. Obviously, the CBC was in error, because we hadn't made that decision, but I just want to know that the minister hasn't been told that we've made a decision, and whether this is a recommendation or a decision point.
Those are two questions, and then I just have one more quick comment after that.