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

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer
Halloween spirit out in the City of Wetaskiwin

City of Wetaskiwin residents show off their Halloween decorations

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

A man runs across the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘No manual or checklist:’ Yukon ditching fall time change this year

The territory decided to adopt year-round daylight time in March

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains makes an announcement regarding vaccine procurement, in Toronto, on Wednesday, Aug., 5, 2020. Despite its status as an artificial intelligence hub, Canada has yet to develop a regulatory regime to deal with issues of privacy, discrimination and accountability to which AI systems are prone, prompting calls for regulation from businesses and experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Canada crawling toward AI regulatory regime, but experts say reform is urgent

5 million images of shoppers collected without consent at Canadian malls

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

(Photo submitted)
Rimbey resident avid author despite Parkinson’s

Wins more accolades for her writing

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

(Pixabay photo)
Spoooky, scaaaary: The ultimate Halloween-in-quarantine playlist

All the costumes, trick-or-treating and spooky-season fun is essentialy off the table due to COVID-19

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Most Read