CANADA POLITICS Head of the House of Government wants another year...

Head of the House of Government wants another year of hybrid parliament for deputies

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Liberal House leader Mark Holland said Monday the government plans to allow MPs to appear virtually for another year.

He made the announcement after speaking with House of Representatives leaders from opposition parties.

Rules to allow MPs to appear virtually in the House of Commons and vote using an app on their phones were introduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when health officials urged people to work from home.

Since then, millions of Canadians have returned to work in a variety of ways.

Holland said the government would push ahead with a proposal to extend the hybrid virtual parliament for another year.

He said that flexibility is still needed. He pointed out that five MPs, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, contracted COVID-19 last week and were unable to attend in person.

Holland said he was sympathetic to calls from the opposition pews for MPs to be in person in the House of Commons and is committed to having government members physically present to answer questions, barring illness or a new variant of COVID-19. which is cause for concern.

House of Commons in Ottawa, Tuesday March 24, 2020 Rules to allow MPs to appear virtually in the House of Commons and vote using an app on their phones were introduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when public health officials urged people to work from home. (Adrian Wilde/Canadian Press)

Whether this will satisfy conservatives remains to be seen. They insist that MPs take their seats except in special circumstances such as illness or non-event events such as funerals.

Conservative House leader John Brassard plans to discuss a plan to expand the virtual parliament at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

Holland said the plan includes asking a parliamentary committee to look into MPs’ use of the virtual voting option and app.

Monday marks the first day in months that MPs can enter the parliamentary precinct buildings regardless of their vaccination status.

It was announced last week that the COVID-19 vaccination mandate would be suspended in the area following the government’s decision to lift the mandate covering federally regulated sectors such as air travel and the federal civil service.

One MP who welcomed the news was Saskatchewan MP Cathay Wagantoll.

She has refused to disclose her vaccination status and has not been able to take her seat in the House of Representatives since the rule went into effect last November.

“I look forward to taking my seat on Monday if all the details come together so that I can be there,” she said in a statement last Friday.

“I am no longer denied the right to represent my constituents in the House of Commons – a welcome result and a good use of the unanimous consent proposal.”

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