Green caucus rejects proposal for regular sittings of parliament during pandemic

April 18, 2020

OTTAWA – Green Party MPs will not support any proposal to introduce regular sittings of the House of Commons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opposition Conservative Party is demanding four sessions a week to allow MPs to hold the government to account. The Liberals reportedly are offering weekly sittings until the technical obstacles to virtual sittings are overcome. Greens say both options are unacceptable.

“It is not reasonable for the House of Commons to meet in person, unless we have to pass legislation to help Canadians,” said Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “Translators, staff, guards and MPs congregating is taking large chances against the advice of public health officials. And for what? The media spotlight of Question Period?”

“We can certainly organize Question Period at a distance through existing technologies, such as we are now using for Standing Committees. Andrew Scheer may be willing to put his desire for media coverage ahead of public health, but I think that Canadians expect a better example from their elected representatives.”

Ms. May said that MPs from all parties have been given abundant opportunity to provide input to the pandemic relief effort through the committees established by the government. “The government has been very open to ideas and criticisms and has shown itself willing to act on our proposals. The system is working and, as we do this work, we demonstrate the value of dispensing with partisanship and collaborating towards a common goal.”

Green MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) said that the proposed regular sittings would not be in the interests of democracy, as its proponents claim.

“Having a small group of MPs in Ottawa does not represent the country as a whole,” he said. “We need a system that gives all MPs the opportunity to represent their communities and regions. Let’s follow the example of other countries and work together online until this crisis is over.”

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