Full powers of Parliament must be reinstated, Conservatives’ Scheer says

Full powers of Parliament must be reinstated, Conservatives’ Scheer says

OTTAWA — Opposition leader Andrew Scheer said Tuesday that more powers of Parliament must be restored to properly scrutinize the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The existing thrice-weekly meetings of a special COVID-19 committee and the smattering of other committees still in session aren’t enough, Scheer said.

Among other things, the current setup doesn’t allow MPs to compel the government to produce documents or to get witnesses to testify, he said.

“This is not a partisan issue, this is about whether or not a democratic country like Canada should have a functional Parliament,” Scheer said.

“If members of the Bloc, or the NDP, or the Liberal backbench don’t believe that Parliament is an essential service, they should consider why they ran for office in the first place.”

The House of Commons adjourned in mid-March as the pandemic began to sweep across Canada and with it, the implementation of travel bans, mandatory isolation and physical distancing requirements.

In April, the parties agreed to postpone the full return again until May 25, next Monday.

If all four parties don’t agree that it ought to remain adjourned, it would resume then.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday his overriding concern is that if it does, MPs from far-flung parts of the country may be unwilling or unable to travel to Ottawa to be take part.

“Therefore there will be parts of the country that won’t be reflected in our democratic institutions,” he said.

Parliament has returned several times for single-day sessions to pass emergency aid legislation, and meanwhile the special COVID-19 committee also meets.

At the same time, one of the regular House of Commons committees still meeting was tasked with studying what would be required for the legislature to go entirely virtual.

The report of the procedure and House affairs committee released Friday made several recommendations, including that the House of Commons add virtual proceedings during the pandemic for all regular business, including voting.

It also suggested the possibility of a hybrid model, where some MPs could connect virtually and others be present in person.

Scheer said that’s the way he’d like to see things go.

“The bottom line is that virtual committee meetings are not a replacement for Parliament,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Andrew Scheer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer up to four active COVID-19 cases

Province announced 77 new confirmed cases across Alberta Friday

Red Deer woman loses student visa, ‘has no choice but to leave’ Canada

Victoria Forschle and her family came to Canada in 2008

Agriculture trade show is a must, says Red Deer chamber

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce promotes trade show

$21M of improvements to be made to Olds College

More than $21 million in improvements will be made to Olds College,… Continue reading

Canadian economy adds 953,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls

OTTAWA — Nearly one million more Canadians had jobs in June than… Continue reading

Survey suggests 40 per cent of Alberta doctors have considered leaving province

CALGARY — A survey by the Alberta Medical Association suggests more than… Continue reading

NHL, NHLPA ratify RTP, CBA extension; Toronto, Edmonton unveiled as hub cities

TORONTO — The NHL remains on course to resume its pandemic-delayed season… Continue reading

Fast-moving Tropical Storm Fay makes landfall in New Jersey

NEW YORK — Fast-moving Tropical Storm Fay made landfall in New Jersey… Continue reading

‘Are you wearing protection?’: Daters struggle with COVID-19 compatibility

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Baltimore on Friday struck down a… Continue reading

Red Deer sports groups sticking to racially sensitive names for now

Professional sports teams Edmonton Eskimos and Washington Redskins are reviewing their team names

Genetic non-discrimination law is constitutional, Supreme Court says

OTTAWA — In a split decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has… Continue reading

Most Read