COVID-19 crept in and working from home became the new normal. With countries now resuming in-person work environments, Canada is a Runaway. Trudeau’s Canada still believes COVID-19 is far from over.
If you look around the western world, countries have resumed normal working routines in the private and public sectors, including in-person parliamentary procedures, but the Canadian parliament is still projecting Trudeau onto big screens.
Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and the Parliament of the European Union have resumed normal business, but Canada always has to step out of the box. In addition, the Parliament of Canada differs from other institutions in major Canadian provinces, which are again holding in-person sessions of their respective legislative assemblies.
Canadian politicians vote, debate and listen to their peers in a hybrid parliament, with some members present in person and others continuing to participate online.
You see, Canada’s hybrid parliament has divided politicians much like the back-to-office movements have divided Canadians in the workplace.
Not to mention that legislatures in conservative provinces like Alberta never fully deviated from in-person sessions, with only a brief period of remote voting in May 2021.
MPs from Conservative parties are calling for Canada’s parliament to resume in-person proceedings without delay, as they believe doing business via Zoom can lead to compromised accountability.
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On the other hand, the Liberal Group has very different views on this issue. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has tabled a proposal for a hybrid permanent parliament that would encourage more people to get involved in politics by reducing the onerous travel regime and offering more flexibility.
Here, too, the liberals are trying to escape the seriousness of the situation. Maybe they’re trying to save face. Liberals want to continue their business with Zoom only to dodge these tough and scathing questions and debates. They want to save themselves from the journalists sitting in the foyer. They want to continue online, perhaps because they don’t have the answers to tough questions and setbacks.
Speaking on an episode of Hub Dialogues this week, Conservative MP Michael Chong said: “It reduces accountability because they don’t have to be physically present to answer urgent questions. They can often read scripts on their screens without having the physical cut and shove of a debate. “
He added: “Furthermore, they don’t have to physically attend to the house.” So they don’t have to go through the press box in the foyer in front of the entrance to the House of Commons. They can escape scrutiny from dozens of journalists who are happy to ask them questions about their portfolios.”
Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said that while he supports a hybrid parliament in general, he has found it more difficult for lawmakers to connect online.
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“My experience in politics is that it becomes even more difficult to form bipartisan coalitions to get things done, especially with MPs that you haven’t developed a relationship with prior to virtual work,” Erskine-Smith said.
He noted that any transition to a hybrid parliament would need to include a “more solid personal connection building component”.
The virtual procedure can only negatively impact their ability to hold government to account, as ministers can more easily dodge questions with prepared remarks that are technically not allowed during Question Time, or skip Question Time without the obvious signal sign of one empty chair.
Clearly the Liberal government is looking for ways to evade accountability. The government’s lack of true spirit is undeniable, and it is evident in the current state of the nation.