The existing thrice-weekly meetings of a special COVID-19 committee and the smattering of other committees still in session aren’t enough, Andrew Scheer says. CP photo

Full powers of Parliament must be reinstated, Conservatives’ Scheer says

The existing meetings aren’t enough

OTTAWA — Opposition leader Andrew Scheer said Tuesday that more powers of Parliament must be restored to properly scrutinize the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The existing thrice-weekly meetings of a special COVID-19 committee and the smattering of other committees still in session aren’t enough, Scheer said.

Among other things, the current setup doesn’t allow MPs to compel the government to produce documents or to get witnesses to testify, he said.

“This is not a partisan issue, this is about whether or not a democratic country like Canada should have a functional Parliament,” Scheer said.

“If members of the Bloc, or the NDP, or the Liberal backbench don’t believe that Parliament is an essential service, they should consider why they ran for office in the first place.”

The House of Commons adjourned in mid-March as the pandemic began to sweep across Canada and with it, the implementation of travel bans, mandatory isolation and physical distancing requirements.

In April, the parties agreed to postpone the full return again until May 25, next Monday.

If all four parties don’t agree that it ought to remain adjourned, it would resume then.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday his overriding concern is that if it does, MPs from far-flung parts of the country may be unwilling or unable to travel to Ottawa to be take part.

“Therefore there will be parts of the country that won’t be reflected in our democratic institutions,” he said.

Parliament has returned several times for single-day sessions to pass emergency aid legislation, and meanwhile the special COVID-19 committee also meets.

At the same time, one of the regular House of Commons committees still meeting was tasked with studying what would be required for the legislature to go entirely virtual.

The report of the procedure and House affairs committee released Friday made several recommendations, including that the House of Commons add virtual proceedings during the pandemic for all regular business, including voting.

It also suggested the possibility of a hybrid model, where some MPs could connect virtually and others be present in person.

Scheer said that’s the way he’d like to see things go.

“The bottom line is that virtual committee meetings are not a replacement for Parliament,” he said.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

County of Paintearth council hosts virtual delegation from RMA during June 2nd meeting

The RMA also usually hosts two conferences for municipalities in a given year

County of Paintearth releases summary of initial round of community engagement sessions

‘Various aspects of the existing Land-Use Bylaw and Municipal Development Plan were reviewed during the sessions’

Town council moves to re-open community playgrounds

Highlights from the Town council meeting of May 25th

Alberta discussing early Stage 2 economic relaunch

Nineteen new COVID-19 cases confirmed by government Wednesday

Israeli, Chinese policies ‘concern’ Canada, undermine freedom, says Trudeau

Israeli, Chinese policies ‘concern’ Canada, undermine freedom, says Trudeau

Former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz joins Enbridge board of directors

Recently retired from head of the Canada’s central bank

PM joins third pandemic summit amid campaign for Security Council seat

Ensuring poor countries access to an eventual vaccine

Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID after exposure to the virus: study

Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID after exposure to the virus: study

Nunavut RCMP to consider body cameras as tension between police, Inuit grows

Nunavut RCMP to consider body cameras as tension between police, Inuit grows

Stockwell Day steps down from several roles after comments about racism

Stockwell Day steps down from several roles after comments about racism

Trudeau to join global COVID-19 vaccine fundraiser amid calls for fair access

Trudeau to join global COVID-19 vaccine fundraiser amid calls for fair access

Most Read