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NDP, Conservatives want new hybrid approach in Parliament

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated May 20, 2020 at 12:37 pm PDT

FILE - NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh talks to reports on Parliament Hill following a caucus meeting in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Summary

The parliamentary pause is set to expire on Monday

During the pandemic, the House of Commons has been holding tri-weekly meetings

Talks continue to determine in what form Parliament may or may not return next week

OTTAWA (NES 1130) — Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party wants more transparency on where federal relief funding is going.

To do that, he adds, there needs to be a return to a more normal operation of Parliament.

During the pandemic, the House of Commons has been holding tri-weekly meetings — one in-person and two remotely — but he’s suggesting following the example of other governments.

“The example of the UK is a hybrid system that seems to be working. It allows for space in Parliament, it allows for voices from around the country to be heard. So there is a good reason to move to that type of hybrid form of Parliament, where there would be the presence of parliamentarians, virtually as well as in person,” Singh said.

“We want more powers,” he adds. “We want to make sure that money that’s being put out by the government goes directly to workers, that it’s tied to jobs, that it’s tied to employment. And to do that, we need to get back to a more normal operation of Parliament.”

The Conservatives also support the hybrid approach.

The parliamentary pause is set to expire on Monday, unless the four main parties agree to extend it.

Talks continue to determine in what form Parliament may or may not return next week.

The prime minister says it continues to function with one in-person and two virtual meetings every week.

“We’re working right with other parties in the house to try and figure out what the best way for us to move forward, to continue our democratic processes, to continue to have a strong functioning parliament and democracy, while at the same time ensuring that we are keeping everyone safe,” Justin Trudeau said.

Parliament was initially suspended in March due to COVID-19.

In April, after being forced to return to the House of Commons, members of Parliament approved a plan for a reduced number of sittings for the next month.

On Tuesday, Opposition leader Andrew Scheer said more powers of Parliament must be restored to properly scrutinize the government’s handling of the pandemic.