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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. 

Trudeau says some promises ‘clearly’ touch provincial jurisdiction after premiers slam Throne Speech, but calls for unified approach

News|By Palak Mangat
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the Liberals' Throne Speech committed to 'more policies that would invade provincial jurisdiction than I could count.'

Throne Speech’s climate promises draws mixed reviews, with NDP saying it’s a rehash of old pledges

The Throne Speech promised action on climate change like the country has never seen before, but some experts and politicians are skeptical the Liberal government can deliver.

Former PM Turner was a ‘living legend,’ ‘a great defender of Parliament,’ say politicos

News|By Palak Mangat
While the conditions for Liberal longevity might not have been ripe, Liberal strategist Charles Bird says late former prime minister John Turner came to the leadership when 'he was already something of a living legend.'

Foreign policy focus in new session should be on China, U.S., and human rights, say Parliamentarians

News|By Neil Moss
'The No. 1 [foreign policy] priority is our relationship with the United States,' says Independent Senator Peter Boehm as the U.S. presidential election quickly approaches.

Political parties reach last-minute deal to temporarily change House rules for hybrid Commons, electronic voting

The rule changes includes a sunset clause, with the terms expiring Dec. 11.

‘Whatever it takes’: Trudeau says austerity not an option in the face of staggering job losses, health crisis 

News|By Beatrice Paez
The speech did not promise a full-fledged budget, but said an update to the feds’ COVID-19 Economic Response plan would be coming this fall.

‘I wrote this memoir from the heart’: former Supreme Court chief justice wins Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for memoir, Truth Be Told, a ‘unique and tantalizing glimpse’ into top court  

News|By Palak Mangat
'Writing this book has brought me close to Canadians and the wonder of our national diversity. This prize is the icing on the amazing cake that has been my life': former Supreme Court chief justice Beverley McLachlin.

Presidential election could change course on unilateral tariff use, but Canada-U.S. trade tensions will remain: experts

News|By Neil Moss
If Joe Biden wins the U.S. presidency, he will be constrained in the use of unilateral tariffs, say experts, while Donald Trump's re-election may leave Canada once again targeted by national security tariffs.

COVID-19 containment, economic recovery expected to drive fall lobbying

Lobbyists will also be keeping an eye on progress on the government's backlog of big-ticket legislation and regulatory reforms this session.
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