Tasha Kheiriddin: Another ‘virtual' hybrid Parliament could be a dangerous thing in government hands

Have you always wanted to be an MP, but dread the thought of commuting to Ottawa? Well, you can go ahead and expand your career horizons now that the House of Commons has approved yet another session of a hybrid Parliament. Last week, MPs voted along party lines, with 180 Liberal and NDP members versus 140 Bloc Québécois and Conservatives, in favour of House sittings that combine in-person and virtual participation.

Tasha Kheiriddin: Another ‘virtual’ hybrid Parliament could be a dangerous thing in government hands
© Provided by National Post Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks via videoconference during question period in the House of Commons on Jan. 25, 2021.

The government’s official line is that this plan respects health guidelines and protects MPs from COVID exposure. “If we have no hybrid measures, there’s an obligation for members to attend regardless of their health circumstances, regardless if they’re immunocompromised,”  said Liberal House leader Mark Holland . “It is absolutely unacceptable, in a pandemic, to force them into circumstances where their health is at risk.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole didn’t buy that line. “It’s totally unacceptable for Mr. Trudeau to go to big meetings such as the (COP26) one in Glasgow, but not be able to meet here on the Hill,” he thundered. “What are the Liberals afraid of? The answer is obvious. Justin Trudeau has an aversion to accountability.”

The irony with the Conservatives’ complaint is that a hybrid Parliament helps them duck the question of just who is and isn’t vaccinated in their caucus, an issue that has dogged them since the election. MPs from all parties will choose to work virtually for any number of reasons, including spending more time in their constituency, or at home with a newborn baby. And with millions of workers now demanding the right to work at least partially from home, it may seem retrograde to argue that legislators should be an exception.

But is it? Is Parliament just a workplace like any other? Can the cause of democracy truly be served when people are not staring each other in the eye, debating the laws that will govern the life of every Canadian?

As Parliaments around the world are discovering, there are pros and cons to virtual sittings. When politicians aren’t all in the same physical space, Opposition parties party might find it harder to convey their displeasure at government responses in question period, for example. A scattering of thumbs-down emojis doesn’t have quite the same impact as a good old-fashioned braying and desk-thumping chorus in the Commons. And if the government plays procedural hardball, or the Speaker makes a ruling the Opposition disagrees with, MPs can’t muster the same response they could in person, which could decrease accountability.

  • John Ivison: Will inflation leave Trudeau with a bloody nose?
  • Sabrina Maddeaux: Lacklustre Liberal throne speech promises to worsen economic problems

Then there’s the dress code. While no one is likely to strip down to the  full Amos this session (Will Amos, the former Liberal MP who had problems with on-camera nudity, didn’t run in the past election), there is sufficient concern about sartorial standards that the Speaker recently warned MPs to maintain the same attire that they would in person. Members have also been instructed not to wear masks with slogans or corporate logos, since advertising and props are forbidden in the actual House of Commons. Last session , all manner of items made an appearance , including a deer head, a painting of colourful turbans, and a green screen (yes, it was the Green party). Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is already taking heat for showing off his bicycle on camera.

All these distractions could easily be avoided if MPs were required to use a stock backdrop (perhaps a shot of their actual House seat?) or a standard-issue mask. And virtual participation might even enhance productivity in certain contexts, such as committees, which could continue sitting even when Parliament is not. The ability to hear witnesses remotely could expand connection between legislators who would otherwise not be able to present themselves in person.

The reality is that, with the work-from-home revolution, some form of hybrid Parliament is probably here to stay. We had better make it work. The government owes it to Canadians to ensure that the hybrid system isn’t used cynically, as a way to duck responsibility, and instead prove that it can be used properly and ethically, as a way to enhance our democracy.

Postmedia News

News Related


Amy Schneider's Epic 40 Game Winning Streak On ‘Jeopardy' Comes To An End

Amy Schneider will always be a champion in our eyes. During Wednesday’s episode of “Jeopardy!”, Schneider’s 40 game winning streak came to an end. After breaking record after record to ... Read more »

Buying Canadian lithium firm part of China's aim to dominate high-tech manufacturing, MPs told

© Provided by National Post Arcadia Lithium mine in Zimbabwe, which a Chinese company offered more than US$400 million to buy in December. China buying a Canadian lithium mining company ... Read more »

Sabres goalie Aaron Dell suspended three games for hit that injured Drake Batherson

Aaron Dell has been suspended three games for the dirty hit that injured Drake Batherson and got him out of the All Star Game. Senators all-star Drake Batherson was injured ... Read more »

Samsung reports 53% jump in profit despite supply chain woes

© Jung Yeon-je Pandemic-driven working from home has boosted demand for devices powered by Samsung’s chips, as well as home appliances such as televisions and washing machines South Korean tech ... Read more »

Los Angeles to Ban New Oil and Gas Wells, Phase Out Existing Ones Over Health Concerns

© Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images Los Angeles is the third government entity in the Los Angeles County to approve a measure prohibiting and phasing out oil and gas ... Read more »

‘Now Hiring Hamilton' seeks to help small, medium-sized businesses with worker shortages

Hamilton’s small and medium-sized businesses are getting some help tackling worker shortages. © (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) A new initiative from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Mohawk College is looking ... Read more »

Robredo ‘conflicted' over legalizing abortion in rape cases

— Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday admitted that she is conflicted on whether aborting pregnancy resulting from rape should be legalized. “I will be very honest with you, Boy. ... Read more »

Analyzing the NHL's goal race: Who's the Rocket Richard favourite?

Chris Kreider tallied goal No. 27 against the Coyotes to pull even with Alex Ovechkin on Saturday night. His next score put him ahead of the rest of the league. ... Read more »

NHL Rumour Roundup: Will Canadian buyers be at a trade disadvantage?

Ahead of a brief St. Louis Blues road trip to Vancouver and Calgary on Sunday and Monday, Justin Faulk was asked about playing north of the border and if it ... Read more »

Capricorn horoscope today, 27 Jan, 2022: Your focus will increase!

Capricorn horoscope today, 27 Jan, 2022: Your focus will increase! What will your day look like in terms of health, romance, finance and fortune? Read everything here. Prediction– Success in ... Read more »

Ontario housing market so red-hot most buyers are skipping inspections, say home inspectors

Home inspectors in Ontario say the hot seller’s market is preventing most buyers from getting inspections done, which in turn, is forcing a large number of inspectors to leave the ... Read more »

Mann versucht zwei Menschen in Sarg in die USA zu schmuggeln

Im Sarg eines angeblich toten Marinesoldaten wollte ein Mann zwei Mexikaner in die USA schleusen. Laut Angaben des US-Justizministeriums war der US-Bürger im Oktober an einem Kontrollpunkt in Texas nahe ... Read more »

Robert Irwin Says He's Ready to Join 'Dancing With the Stars': 'I Reckon It's About Time' (Exclusive)

© Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Robert Irwin is ready to follow in his older sister, Bindi Irwin‘s, dance steps. The 18-year-old animal conservationist is open to the idea of competing on ... Read more »

Video of alleged white nationalists door-knocking in Alabama goes viral on TikTok

© TikTok user @itsmalloryh A home security camera video showing alleged white nationalists going door-to-door in Alabama has gone viral on TikTok – TikTok user @itsmalloryh A home security camera ... Read more »

UK ‘considering sending hundreds of troops to Eastern Europe' amid Russia-Ukraine crisis

© AP Members of Ukraine‘s Territorial Defense Forces – AP British military officials are reportedly deciding whether to send hundreds of troops to Eastern Europe after Washington asked the UK ... Read more »

Oklahoma City woman accuses ex-lawmaker of sexual misconduct

© The Oklahoman/Gannett Lawmaker Resignation Assault Allegation – The Oklahoman/Gannett An Oklahoma state lawmaker who resigned abruptly last week has been accused by an Oklahoma City lobbyist of touching her ... Read more »

Liverpool news: Jurgen Klopp seeks midfield solution as academy prospect praised

Liverpool youngster Mateusz Musialowski has been praised by another one of his Liverpool teammates. The academy player, who has been dubbed “the Polish Messi”, is said to have left Reds ... Read more »

LGBTQ Afghans at increased risk of rape, torture under Taliban rule: report

A report published Wednesday said that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Afghanistan have faced increased security threats to their lives and “dramatically worsened” conditions since the Taliban took ... Read more »

Large percentage of NY municipalities won't allow legal weed sales

Southampton, along with several Long Island towns, will not permit the sale of recreational marijuana. Shutterstock Some of Long Island’s most popular summer hot spots aren’t high on legal weed ... Read more »

Psaki grows defensive when asked about Biden-Xi talk on COVID origins

White House press secretary Jen Psaki bristled Wednesday when asked about President Biden’s claim that he pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to be transparent about the origins of COVID-19 — ... Read more »

James Harden's frustration not only uncertainty facing Nets' Big 3

When the Nets put their Big 3 together, they did so with the hope that their trademark characteristic would be winning. Instead, their first full season together — especially what’s ... Read more »

Inside Rangers' contract talks with Ryan Strome, option they won't choose

Regarding the Rangers, one off the NHL lead in overall victories and in regulation victories as of Wednesday afternoon: 1. The Blueshirts are engaged in ongoing talks with the representatives ... Read more »

Pyongyang fires two suspected ballistic missiles: South Korea

© Provided by Al Jazeera North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has presided over a flurry of missile tests this month [File: KCNA via Reuters] North Korea fired what appeared ... Read more »

Catalonia pardons women executed for witchcraft

© Getty Images Tens of thousands – mostly women – were condemned to death across Europe (illustration from 15th century Switzerland) The Catalan regional parliament has formally pardoned hundreds of ... Read more »

France, 14 countries ask Mali to let Danish forces stay -statement

© Reuters/PAUL LORGERIE FILE PHOTO: A soldier is pictured at the headquarters of the new Takuba force in Gao PARIS (Reuters) – France and 14 other countries urged Mali late ... Read more »

AmEx soars most since 2020 after card spending hits record

American Express Co surged the most in more than a year after the card giant boosted forecasts for revenue and profit and said spending on its cards climbed to a ... Read more »

Federal court blocks Alabama's new congressional map

A federal court blocked Alabama’s newly drawn congressional map on Monday, ruling that it likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it only includes one district where ... Read more »

Wall Street experts zero in on just how the Fed might drain liquidity

Wall Street analysts have been busy war-gaming just how quickly the Federal Reserve might start shrinking its balance sheet. Now attention is also turning to exactly which parts of the ... Read more »

Goldman, Citigroup strategists say it's now time to buy equity rout

After a sell-off that put global stocks on course for their worst month since the start of the pandemic, strategists from Goldman Sachs Group to Citigroup say it’s now time ... Read more »

Nearly 30% Of People Are Most Excited For This Comedy Movie In 2022

Universal Pictures/YouTube The decade of the 2020s has been rough so far, to say the least, and the entertainment world hasn’t snuck by unscathed. As a result of the COVID-19 ... Read more »

Extra Push: Capex outlay in FY23 pegged at Rs 10.5 lakh crore

© Provided by The Financial Express The Centre via Budget may invest 18% more in FY23 than in FY22 at around Rs 6.53 lakh crore to retain its budgetary capex ... Read more »

'Inflation no reason for ECB to change track'

The European Central Bank has no need to fundamentally change its assessment of the inflation outlook or accelerate policy tightening, according to Governing Council member Gediminas Simkus. Euro-area monetary policy ... Read more »

Billionaire investor Bill Ackman reveals a $1.1 billion Netflix stake — and says his hedge fund bought about 3.1 million shares since Friday

© Reuters/ Allen Fredrickson Bill Ackman. Reuters/ Allen Fredrickson Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square invested in Netflix, buying about 3.1 million shares since Friday. The billionaire’s hedge fund now commands a ... Read more »

Strengthen regulation of GM food; ‘Ban GM food'-demand unreasonable

© Provided by The Financial Express The provision in the draft regulation that holds that FSSAI approval of a specific GM-origin food/ingredient holding unique identification from the Biosafety Clearing House ... Read more »

Farm Factor: Fasal Bima cover sees a big drop

By Sandip Das The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the crop insurance scheme jointly sponsored by the Centre and states, is facing the twin problems of many state governments ... Read more »

Adele sparks fears her Las Vegas residency will never happen after stage set is removed and major artist fills her slot

ADELE fans are growing increasingly worried the singer will never perform her Las Vegas residency after tearfully cancelling her first gig with just hours to spare. The Brit superstar's Weekends ... Read more »

US Fed is far behind the curve on controlling inflation

© Provided by The Financial Express Only twice before in modern history, in early 1975 and again in mid-1980, did the Fed allow the real funds rate to plunge to ... Read more »

The Emotional On-Set Moment That Bonded The Spider-Man: No Way Home Cast

Marvel Entertainment/YouTube Many fans still don’t seem to be over “Spider-Man: No Way Home” following its release. It is, after all, the only film so far to feature all three actors who have ... Read more »

2022 Farmers Insurance Open Thursday tee times, TV and ESPN+ streaming info

The PGA Tour’s West Coast swing has moved from the Coachella desert to the San Diego coast for this week’s 2022 Farmers Insurance Open. © File photo Farmers Insurance Open ... Read more »

Fear the beard: Unshaven Michael Thompson fires 64, trails Billy Horschel by one after first round of Farmers Insurance Open

SAN DIEGO – The beard works. © File photo Farmers Insurance Open Michael Thompson, who makes one think of Grizzly Adams when they take a glance, began growing his now ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic