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Challenges to virtual sittings not insurmountable, say MPs, experts, but reforms should reflect House’s diversity

By Beatrice Paez      

Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez says the House could resume sitting virtually within the next four weeks and says the House Speaker's team is working on it.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, pictured on March 24, 2020, at the emergency sitting of the House, where a small contingent of MPs across parties convened to pass the feds’ emergency COVID-19 legislation. The House administration is in the process of assessing how to convene Parliament virtually, with an eye towards setting it up within four weeks’ time. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

In the absence of daily televised parliamentary sittings, many MPs have been consigned to the sidelines of the pandemic, operating largely behind the scenes as they tend to constituency issues and keep tabs on the federal government’s evolving and unprecedented response to the coronavirus. But the looming prospect of convening the House virtually holds the promise of bringing greater scrutiny, say experts and current and former MPs, though there’s much to debate over which aspects could—and should—be swiftly adapted to the digital age. 

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MPs scrutinize parole board following report on murder of Quebec woman

The parole strategy for convicted killer was ‘completely unacceptable,’ says CSC commissioner Anne Kelly after a report found the authorities missed warning signs before a woman’s death last year.

Freelance translators raise concerns over proposed terms of new contract

Some of the proposed changes include a requirement that freelancers be available for 15.5 hours a day, the elimination of pay for some duties currently covered, and longer exposure to distance interpreting.

Payette’s resignation yet another self-inflicted wound for Trudeau Liberals, say former senior Grits

News|By Abbas Rana
Justin Trudeau should take his time and follow a proper screening process in choosing Julie Payette’s successor, says Prof. Donald Savoie.

Sloan’s ouster should have come earlier, say Conservative observers

News|By Palak Mangat
'Since his election, Mr. Sloan has conducted a master class of bigotry and bullying,' says Conservative strategist Geoff Norquay, who served as a top aide to former prime minister Stephen Harper.

House agrees to extend hybrid sittings, takes step closer to adopting remote voting app

News|By Beatrice Paez
It's up to each leader of the four recognized parties to inform the House Speaker they're 'satisfied' that all issues have been addressed and to give the green light for adopting the app.

Beyak retires from Senate, ‘stands by’ defence of residential schools

News|By Palak Mangat
Her decision to retire takes place just ahead of the Senate’s return on Feb. 2 and on the first day of the House of Commons’ return from its holiday recess. 

Employment numbers ‘devastating,’ indicate ‘very profound’ economic crisis brewing, says NDP MP Julian

News|By Mike Lapointe
Employment numbers in Canada have dropped for the first time since April 2020, when record government spending began propping up the job market. Observers say they're not surprised by the decrease.

Finance, trade, and climate bills should top Liberal priorities as House returns: MPs, stakeholders

The Liberals can start with low-hanging fruit in bills C-14 and C-18.

Carr’s cabinet post praised by Prairie stakeholders, but experts and MP wary of road ahead

Jim Carr is one of four Liberal MPs elected in the three Prairie provinces, and is now representing the region at the cabinet table.
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