April 20, 2020
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada today asked the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, to protect the rights and privilege of members of parliament by suspending sittings of the House until further notice.
The Speaker will rule in the near future on a point of privilege raised by Green MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith).
Speaking in the House this morning, Manly said that the rights and privileges of many members would be violated by any proposal to proceed with regular House sittings in which they could not participate.
“Parliament is not a debating club for the benefit of large organized political groups or parties,” said Manly. “Parliament is an assembly of duly elected members. All MPs are equal, just as their constituencies and constituents are equal.”
Manly said that under existing provincial quarantine orders, members from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador could not participate in House sittings without undergoing a 14-day quarantine, isolated from their families, upon returning home.
“Quebec members have also been asked by their government not to travel. The idea of a small number of MPs meeting in Ottawa violates their privileges and offends the efforts of the Quebec government.”
The Green Party opposes any proposal to reintroduce regular sittings of parliament until public health advice makes it possible for every member to attend. Parliament should reconvene only when it needs to debate and vote on urgent legislation.
Green MPs urge the Speaker to pursue a virtual Question Period without delay.
“Businesses across the country have demonstrated leadership, shifting their workspaces online to respect social distancing,” said Jenica Atwin (MP, Fredericton). “The House of Commons should be no different. When legislation needs to be passed, you can count on Green MPs to be present in the House of Commons. All other debate, including Question Period, can and must be done virtually.”
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