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

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

The existing meetings aren’t enough

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.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake beachgoers spark safety concerns

‘You’re putting your life at risk,’ tweets Rachel Notley

Conservatives call for Trudeau to testify at committee on WE Charity deal

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is already investigating whether Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act

Beat the heat this summer with pop-up spray parks

Starting next week, spray parks will be popping up in neighbourhoods across… Continue reading

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Quebec police continue search for father, one day after missing girls found dead

Bodies were found in a wooded area of Quebec City suburb

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Canmore RCMP respond to multiple hiking injury calls this weekend

EMS and RCMP responded to three separate and unrelated hiking accidents in Kananaskis Country.

You can’t put a price on memories

Some people would rather buy something than sell something. Some people are… Continue reading

Masks and gloves: Elections Saskatchewan preparing for pandemic election

REGINA — Elections Saskatchewan estimates it will need 400,000 face masks and… Continue reading

Quebec police say they found 2 bodies in St-Apollinaire during search for 2 girls

SAINT-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continue to search for the father… Continue reading

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA chief Don Fehr reflect on RTP, CBA deals

Gary Bettman and Don Fehr finally have a chance to catch their… Continue reading

NHL’s road to Edmonton and Toronto featured plenty of obstacles

Since early March, the novel coronavirus has affected almost every decision facing… Continue reading

Florida sets record week for coronavirus deaths

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida’s coronavirus death rate rose again Saturday, setting… Continue reading

Trump’s defiant help for Stone adds to tumult in Washington

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s intervention into a criminal case connected to… Continue reading

Most Read