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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. 

Feds’ policing reforms should respect self-governance of Indigenous people, say experts, Parliamentarians, in wake of deadly, violent run-ins with police

News|By Palak Mangat
'Our relationship with police has been one of violence, from the colonial nature of everything that has happened in Canada,' says Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in Port Alberni, B.C.

Lack of privacy oversight could hurt buy-in for COVID contact-tracing app, say critics

'I get we're in a pandemic, and I'm very supportive of using the technology, but until I know that it respects the basic rights and has the highest standards, I can't see that it's going to work,' said MP Charlie Angus.

‘I felt silenced’: voices missing from Upper Chamber’s systemic racism debate, say some Senators, highlighting need for hybrid model

Senator Mobina Jaffer is among those who say the in-person-only approach to spring Senate sittings limited participation and worries it will remain in place when Parliament returns in September.

Mounting deaths stemming from police wellness checks a ‘wake-up call,’ says Senator

‘We need to address poverty and support community programs to prevent many of the situations that police are being asked to handle with guns and handcuffs,' says NDP critic Don Davies.

New NAFTA comes into force after months of testy renegotiations, but ‘disruptions’ will need to be addressed

News|By Neil Moss
'We all have to expect that there's going to be some bumps over the next six months,' said Ohio-based trade lawyer Daniel Ujczo.

Backroom, Capitol Hill lobbying key to fighting possible return of tariffs, says MP Wayne Easter

News|By Neil Moss
'At least at this stage, it's better to work the backrooms, work the players that have some influence with the White House, and try to ensure that such a threat doesn't become a reality,' says Canada-U.S. group co-chair.

‘Just not the same’: Parliamentarians plan Canada Day festivities around the COVID-19 pandemic

Feature|By Palak Mangat
'We do not celebrate the existence of this country in the same way other people do, because we think that the existence of this country came at a price to our ancestors and to us,' says Senator Murray Sinclair.

Transformative global pandemic could bring positive changes to society, but will require ‘an incredible amount of political will,’ say politicos, pollsters

News|By Abbas Rana
The deeper the impacts of COVID-19, the more likely that major changes will occur in our society, says EKOS president Frank Graves.

MacKay’s victory could be a ‘threat to the party unity,’ says Conservative MP Kusie

News|By Abbas Rana
'Peter MacKay has a proven track record of uniting Conservatives, and that's precisely what he's doing in the leadership campaign. And that's what he'll do if he's elected as leader,' says Conservative MP Michael Cooper.
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