That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, beginning on Friday, June 24, 2022, and ending on Friday, June 23, 2023:
(a) members may participate in proceedings of the House either in person or by videoconference, provided that members participating remotely be in Canada;
(b) members who participate remotely in a sitting of the House be counted for the purpose of quorum;
(c) provisions in the Standing Orders to the need for members to rise or to be in their place, as well as any reference to the chair, the table or the chamber shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the virtual and hybrid nature of the proceedings;
(d) the application of Standing Order 17 shall be suspended;
(e) in Standing Orders 26(2), 53(4), 56.1(3), and 56.2(2), the reference to the number of members required to rise be replaced with the word “five”;
(f) the application of Standing Order 62 shall be suspended for any member participating remotely;
(g) documents may be laid before the House or presented to the House electronically, provided that:
(i) documents deposited pursuant to Standing Order 32(1) shall be deposited with the Clerk of the House electronically,
(ii) documents shall be transmitted to the clerk by members prior to their intervention,
(iii) any petition presented pursuant to Standing Order 36(5) may be filed with the clerk electronically,
(iv) responses to questions on the Order Paper deposited pursuant to Standing Order 39 may be tabled electronically;
(h) should the House resolve itself in a committee of the whole, the Chair may preside from the Speaker’s chair;
(i) when a question that could lead to a recorded division is put to the House, in lieu of calling for the yeas and nays, one representative of a recognized party can rise to request a recorded vote or to indicate that the motion is adopted on division, provided that a request for a recorded division has precedence;
(j) when a recorded division is requested in respect of a debatable motion, or a motion to concur in a bill at report stage on a Friday, including any division arising as a consequence of the application of Standing Order 78, but excluding any division in relation to the budget debate, pursuant to Standing Order 84, or the business of supply occurring on the last supply day of a period, other than as provided in Standing Orders 81(17) and 81(18)(b), or arising as a consequence of an order made pursuant to Standing Order 57,
(i) before 2:00 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions at that day’s sitting, or
(ii) after 2:00 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or at any time on a Friday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions at the next sitting day that is not a Friday,
provided that any extension of time pursuant to Standing Order 45(7.1) shall not exceed 90 minutes;
(k) if a motion for the previous question under Standing Order 61 is adopted without a recorded division, the vote on the main question may be deferred under the provisions of paragraph (j), however if a recorded division is requested on the previous question, and such division is deferred and the previous question subsequently adopted, the vote on the original question shall not be deferred;
(l) when a recorded division, which would have ordinarily been deemed deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on a Wednesday governed by this order, is requested, the said division is deemed to have been deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions on the same Wednesday, provided that such recorded divisions be taken after the other recorded divisions deferred at that time;
(m) for greater certainty, this order shall not limit the application of Standing Order 45(7);
(n) when a recorded division is to be held, the bells to call in the members shall be sounded for not more than 30 minutes, except recorded divisions deferred to the conclusion of Oral Questions, when the bells shall be sounded for not more than 15 minutes;
(o) recorded divisions shall take place in the usual way for members participating in person or by electronic means through the House of Commons electronic voting application for all other members, provided that:
(i) electronic votes shall be cast from within Canada using the member’s House-managed mobile device and the member’s personal House of Commons account, and that each vote require visual identity validation,
(ii) the period allowed for voting electronically on a motion shall be 10 minutes, to begin after the Chair has read the motion to the House, and members voting electronically may change their vote until the electronic voting period has closed,
(iii) in the event a member casts their vote both in person and electronically, a vote cast in person take precedence,
(iv) any member unable to vote via the electronic voting system during the 10-minute period due to technical issues may connect to the virtual sitting to indicate to the Chair their voting intention by the House videoconferencing system,
(v) following any concern, identified by the electronic voting system, which is raised by a House officer of a recognized party regarding the visual identity of a member using the electronic voting system, the member in question shall respond immediately to confirm their vote, either in person or by the House videoconferencing system, failing which the vote shall not be recorded,
(vi) the whip of each recognized party have access to a tool to confirm the visual identity of each member voting by electronic means, and that the votes of members voting by electronic means be made available to the public during the period allowed for the vote,
(vii) the process for votes in committees of the whole take place in a manner similar to the process for votes during sittings of the House with the exception of the requirement to call in the members,
(viii) any question to be resolved by secret ballot be excluded from this order,
(ix) during the taking of a recorded division on a private members’ business, when the sponsor of the item is the first to vote and present at the beginning of the vote, the member be called first, whether participating in person or remotely;
(p) during meetings of standing, standing joint, special, special joint, except the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency, and legislative committees and the Liaison Committee, as well as their subcommittees, where applicable, members may participate either in person or by videoconference, and provided that priority use of House resources for meetings shall be established by an agreement of the whips and, for virtual or hybrid meetings, the following provisions shall apply:
(i) members who participate remotely shall be counted for the purpose of quorum,
(ii) except for those decided unanimously or on division, all questions shall be decided by a recorded vote,
(iii) when more than one motion is proposed for the election of a chair or a vice-chair of a committee, any motion received after the initial one shall be taken as a notice of motion and such motions shall be put to the committee seriatim until one is adopted,
(iv) public proceedings shall be made available to the public via the House of Commons website,
(v) in camera proceedings may be conducted in a manner that takes into account the potential risks to confidentiality inherent in meetings with remote participants,
(vi) notices of membership substitutions pursuant to Standing Order 114(2) and requests pursuant to Standing Order 106(4) may be filed with the clerk of each committee by email; and
(q) notwithstanding the order adopted on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, regarding the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency, until the committee ceases to exist and where applicable,
(i) the committee shall hold meetings in person only should this be necessary to consider any matter referred to it pursuant to subsection 61(2) of the act,
(ii) members who participate remotely shall be counted for the purpose of quorum,
(iii) except for those decided unanimously or on division, all questions shall be decided by a recorded vote,
(iv) in camera proceedings may be conducted in a manner that takes into account the potential risks to confidentiality inherent in meetings with remote participants,
(v) when more than one motion is proposed for the election of the House vice-chairs, any motion received after the initial one shall be taken as a notice of motion and such motions shall be put to the committee seriatim until one is adopted;
that a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that this House has passed this order; and
that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to undertake a study on hybrid proceedings and the aforementioned changes to the Standing Orders and the usual practice of the House.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise on this motion and talk about the extension of hybrid provisions for one year and the opportunity for the procedure and House affairs committee members to study the issue of either the use or the non-use of those provisions as they deem through their process and their recommendations thereafter.
I will take us back for a moment to March 2020. As the whole business of the pandemic was unfolding, it was about a week before this House shut down when I had a conversation with the House administration at that time asking what the pandemic plan was and what we had on the books. Of course, those who wrote it had put something together, but it became apparent very quickly upon looking at it that the intersection of what was planned with what happened in real life meant that the plan, frankly, was not of much use.
We then began a process, and I want to thank members from all parties, reflecting back on those early days in March 2020, as we attempted to find a way for Canada's Parliament to continue to do its business and to make sure that, notwithstanding the fact that we had this incredible public health emergency that sent people to their homes, Canadians knew that the seat of their democracy continued to function, continued to get bills passed and continued to put supports out there for them.
Before I talk about some of those supports, I want to take a moment to thank the House administration and officials who worked with us to create these tools and innovations to allow our democracy to continue to function. In an incredibly short period of time, an ability was developed to participate and vote virtually. This eventually led to a voting app and other refinements that have enabled members, whether or not they are sick, whether or not they are unable to be at the House for medical or other reasons, to continue to participate in the proceedings of the House and to make sure they are not disenfranchised and their constituents continue to be represented.
Members would remember that Canadians and businesses were reeling in those early days of COVID, and some three million jobs were lost. There was a real state of folks not knowing where things were going to go. Small businesses were left unable to serve their customers and wondering what their future would be. It was specifically because of the provisions we put in place, which all parties worked on with the House administration, that we were able to still get those supports adopted and make historic support available to make sure that businesses and individuals did not fall through the cracks.
Now we see the economy roaring back, and 115% of jobs lost during the pandemic have come back, compared to below 100% for the United States. We see us being a world leader in economic growth, number two in the G7 and trending towards being number one next year. It is absolutely evident that the supports that were put in place to make sure that Canadians did not fall through the cracks were what got us there.
When we think of the bravery of people opening a small business, taking a chance and putting themselves out in the world, putting their shingle out and hoping to survive, there are a lot of things they have to prepare for, such as the possibility that their product may not be as popular as they had hoped, or the long hours that they, and the people they employ, will have to put in to try to make the business successful. Of course, it is not reasonable for folks to expect that a global pandemic will be the thing that shuts them down. It was, in fact, those hybrid provisions that enabled people to get that work done.
The pandemic continues, but before I talk about the continuing pandemic, I will take a moment to talk about all the things that we got done, and not just those historic supports.
As the pandemic came and went, as we thought it was over last November and we thought that things might be returning to a sense of normalcy but we got hit by omicron, the flexibility of Parliament meant that we were able to continue to get the job of the nation done. We can take a look at how much Parliament was able to accomplish from January to June: 14 bills, not including supply, were presented, and we introduced seven bills in the Senate on a range of important issues. Many of the bills that we are passing now or that have just passed through the House are going to the Senate, and it is our hope and expectation, particularly with the great work that was just done on Bill C-28, that the Senate will be able to get that done as well before it rises for the summer. This was all done using the hybrid provisions.
Let us take a look at some of those bills.
Bill C-19 is critical to grow our economy, foster clean technology, strengthen our health care system and make life more affordable for Canadians in areas such as housing and child care.
Bill C-18 would make sure that media and journalists in Canadian digital news receive fair compensation for their work in an incredibly challenged digital environment.
Bill C-11 would require online streaming services to contribute to the creation and availability of Canadian stories and music to better support Canadian artists.
Bill C-21 would protect Canadians from the dangers of firearms in our communities, making sure that we freeze the market on handguns, attack smuggling at the border and implement red flag provisions to address domestic violence.
Bill C-22 was brought forward to reduce poverty among persons with disabilities in Canada and is part of a broader strategy that has seen more than one million Canadians lifted out of poverty. That is particularly remarkable when we think that it was this government that set the first targets ever for poverty reduction. After we set those goals, we have been exceeding them every step of the way, and Bill C-22 is a big part of that strategy.
Bill C-28, which I talked about a minute ago, deals with the extreme intoxication defence. It is a great example of Parliament in a hybrid environment being able to work collaboratively to ensure that we close an important loophole to make sure that the extreme intoxication defence is not used when murder has been committed.
These are just some of the bills that we have been able to put forward, and we have been able to do so in a way that empowered all members of Parliament to be able to participate, whether they had COVID or not.
To give members a sense of the challenges, not only was all of this done using the hybrid system and during the middle of a pandemic, but it was done while dealing with obstruction. We saw all the times the Conservatives obstructed government legislation. In fact, 17 times over the past 14 weeks, the Conservatives used obstruction tactics, using concurrence motions and other tactics to block and obstruct, in many cases, legislation that was supported by three out of the four official parties here. They took the opportunity to obstruct, yet despite that, we have been able to make great progress.
The Conservatives support Bill C-14, yet we ended up spending a night because they were moving motions to hear their own speakers. At the MAID committee looking at medical assistance in dying, where there was incredibly sensitive testimony, witnesses were not able to testify because of the tactics and games that were happening here in this place. However, despite all that, in a hybrid environment we have been able to move forward.
Let us look at last week. Last week there were five members of the Liberal caucus who had COVID, and one of these people was the Prime Minister. I do not know how many members there were in other caucuses, but all were still able to participate in these proceedings. Every day, unfortunately, thousands of Canadians across the country continue to get COVID. Sadly, many of them are in hospitals and, even more tragically, many of them are dying. This pandemic is still very much a reality.
What we have seen over the last two years is that every time we try to start a parliamentary session, we spend weeks debating whether we should or should not continue using the hybrid system. Parliament deserves stability. People are still getting COVID. They have the right to be able to participate in this place, and as has been demonstrated by the incredible amount of work we have been able to get done during the pandemic, from historic supports in the deepest, darkest time of the pandemic to the more recent times dealing with a whole range of legislation that is absolutely critical to Canadians, these provisions allow us to continue to do the work of this nation in extraordinary times.
I do not think we should be in a position such that every time we start Parliament, we continue to have this debate. Canadians need predictability, as we do not know where this pandemic or public health circumstances are going. Canadians need predictability until the House of Commons, through a committee process, can evaluate the utility and usefulness of the provisions outside of a pandemic reality to see if they should be extended or used. We need to have a proper, thorough debate in that venue, hearing from witnesses, hearing from parliamentarians, taking a look at what was accomplished and at what could be done better or differently.
We are already seeing big improvements in everything, from the services that are being delivered to interpretation. I look forward to PROC's work to see whether or not these provisions have utility, but until then, this measure would give us the stability for PROC to do its report and for Parliament to continue to function in incredibly challenging times.
That is why I think it is only prudent to pass this measure now. It is so that Parliament will have the stability to do its work, so Canadians will know this work will not be interrupted, and so we can focus instead on the business of the nation.