House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was hybrid.

Topics

Interruption to Proceedings—Speaker's RulingPrivilege

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised yesterday by the member for Calgary Centre.

The member contended that the decision taken by unanimous consent to adjourn the sitting of June 21, 2022, constitutes a breach of his privileges. He noted that due to the technical difficulties with our video conferencing system, he was unable to participate in the proceedings of the House when this decision was made. He equated this matter with previous situations where members were prevented from physically accessing the chamber and asked that the Chair find a prima facie question of privilege.

I thank the member for raising this matter. As I indicated in my statement yesterday, the sitting of June 21, 2022, was suspended due to a connectivity problem external to the House of Commons

It is clear to the Chair that there was no deliberate attempt to interfere with the member's ability to participate in the proceedings. When it was brought to the Chair's attention that there was a widespread outage preventing members from participating, the sitting was suspended. Once it became apparent that it would not be possible to resolve the matter quickly, following discussions with representatives of all parties, the sitting was resumed to allow a motion to adjourn to be presented. The motion was adopted with the unanimous agreement of all members present.

The Chair recognizes that the member was not able to provide his consent for that decision. It was specifically because some members could not participate that the House agreed to adjourn early. The decision was made with the express intent of protecting the rights of those members participating by videoconference. Continuing to sit in those circumstances would have been more problematic for the privileges of members than making a decision to adjourn,

Therefore, the Chair cannot find that this matter constitutes a question of privilege.

I thank all members for their attention.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to five petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

While I am on my feet, I move:

That the House do now proceed to orders of the day.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The question is on the motion.

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

The hon. opposition House leader.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, I request a recorded division.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #169

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I declare the motion adopted.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, in relation to the consideration of Government Business No. 19, I move:

That the debate be not further adjourned.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places or use the “raise hand” function so the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate in this question period.

Given the number of members who wish to participate, I want to make it very clear that I will not be recognizing members party by party. I will actually scan the House. However, if the same person is getting up all the time from the same party and others have not spoken, I will be going to those who have not spoken.

The hon. opposition House leader.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, if this were not so sad, it would actually be funny, but it is not.

What the government House leader is proposing is that we return to a hybrid system in the fall, when no other legislatures in Canada, provincially or territorially, and no other legislatures around the world, are doing it. Not even the mother Parliament, which returned to an in-person, non-hybrid sitting last July, is doing what the government House leader is doing, and complicit is his NDP partner, the NDP House leader.

There is no reason we cannot revisit this in August or September. If there is a need to go back to a hybrid Parliament, then we can agree to do that, but we are precluding this now.

I have heard the argument from the government House leader and the NDP House leader, who, by the way, must think they are doctors. Dr. NDP House leader and Dr. government House leader are predicting that some sort of variant is coming in the fall. Obviously, they are the world's pre-eminent immunologists, virologists and epidemiologists, because public health officials in this country are saying that we have to return to normal.

There is no reason for doing this. Why are the Liberals forcing us back to a hybrid Parliament when there is no reason to do it? It is because they want to hide. That is all this is. They hide from accountability and hide from transparency. They want to hide and not be accountable to Canadians, the voices that sent us here.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, the angrier somebody gets, the more it reflects on their position as opposed to the circumstance we are debating.

Let us take a step back for a second regarding the measures the member is talking about. If he is opposed to them, he and his colleagues do not have to use them. If they want to not use the hybrid provisions, then they can do so.

I am sure that when the vote happens later today, we will see all Conservative members here in the seats. I am sure all members will be voting in person. After that impassioned speech about how terrible these measures are, I am sure that in question period today we will see every single member of the Conservative Party here. We are going to see every vote taken in person, because of course this is a terrible affront to democracy, right? The anger is real, and because the anger is real, we are going to see them all here.

Here is what happened. At the beginning of the pandemic, of course we had no idea what was going to happen. We developed provisions that would give us the flexibility—

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I have indicated how I would do this, and I would just ask members to please give their respect to the parliamentarian who has the floor. There is 27 and a half minutes for questions and comments left, and I would just say there is plenty of time for others to ask questions or make comments.

Members can please hold their voices until then.

The hon. government House leader, if he could wrap it up, I can get to the next question.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, I am sure there will be many more questions, so I can come back to this.

I will say that, instead of debating this again and again, what we would give Parliament is stability for the next year, and we would give PROC, the procedure and House affairs committee, the opportunity to look at what may or may not be used beyond that. That would provide stability and clarity, and give us an opportunity to look at what worked, and that is the right way to go.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Again, I am still hearing voices, and I should not be, so please hold off on that.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Montcalm.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

June 23rd, 2022 / 10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, I have not heard very many arguments from the government House leader so far.

What I do not understand is why this government is in such a rush to decide about a hybrid Parliament right now, when health measures have been completely relaxed for public transit, precisely where there could be the most problems. I do not understand why we need to decide on this today, when there has been no spike in cases.

I think that we could make this decision when the House resumes, but apparently that is not possible. It seems to be urgent that we decide today on whether to continue with a hybrid Parliament, when that is not the type of work we should be doing here. This is the people's House.

I do not understand. I would like to hear the reasons behind this. I have still not heard any from the government House leader, apart from the fact that he wants to accommodate his team.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, this week, with the situation as it is now, many members have come down with COVID-19. The only way they can participate in the parliamentary debates and vote is through the hybrid system. The pandemic is ongoing. People are dying every day, unfortunately. This is a very serious situation.

This flexibility would give members the option to use the hybrid system. If things improve over time and members no longer want to use the hybrid system, then that will be up to them. They are not in any way obligated to use it.

However, if something changes, like with what happened with the omicron variant, we will need to be flexible and adapt. That is exactly what the motion would allow us to do.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, it is crazy, the over-the-top opposition by the Conservatives to what is a good, common-sense measure, given all the things the government House leader has said about the importance of actually having parliamentarians be able to participate. Even if members are sick with COVID and even if they are unable to be in this House, their constituents would not lose their voice and their constituents would not lose their vote. Those are important things, but we saw last night the unfortunate spectacle of the Conservatives monopolizing the entire debate on this issue, refusing to hear from any other party and refusing to yield the floor so that others could speak on this issue.

I would like to ask the government House leader if this measure today is, in part, because the Conservatives have been so selfish in trying to monopolize all of the House time and refusing to allow other voices to speak on this important motion.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Again, I seem to have the same offenders over and over again and they keep heckling and yelling. I would just say, if it is not members' time to speak, then they should not be speaking.

The hon. government House leader.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, I think we all need to take a step back here. What is being talked about is continuing something we have had for the last two years, which has given us incredible flexibility to represent our constituents, as people have been ill. Just last week, we had five members who had COVID, and we have many members this week, and they are continuing to be able to represent their constituents.

This would be for a year. If people are really against it, and I am hearing some people who really do not like it and that is fair, the procedure and House affairs committee is going to look at whether we would use these provisions outside of the pandemic or inside it, but it would be for a year. We have a committee that is going to be looking at all of the concerns. People are very passionate about this, saying that it should be used outside of a pandemic or that it should not be used outside of a pandemic. We need a parliamentary process to adjudicate that and to look at its relative merits, but how upset folks are getting is just not in line with what is here in front of us today.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, as I have listened to this debate, the Conservatives have obviously expressed their concern that this is somehow a deficit for democracy. However, as I watched the vote, there were a number of Conservatives who were using the tools that have been made available to us.

What I have not heard, and I would be interested to hear from the House leader on this, is any constructive proposals about how we can balance using virtual tools and also making sure that opposition members feel there is a legitimate ability to hold the government to account, which arguably is already there. They have some concern, but there has been no constructive debate. I presume this is something that can go on at PROC. We have been able to use these tools, but at the same time, if there are ways we can continue to make sure that the government is accountable to all parliamentarians in this place, then that is the place to do it.

Can the member elaborate a little on how he sees that process playing out?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. friend and colleague is absolutely right.

The first point I would make is that, in talking with all opposition parties, I have been clear from the outset that I am open to any ideas on how to improve on any concerns they have. Unfortunately, what came back was nothing, just that there was opposition to it. We are going to continue to ask for ways for this to be improved in the near term as we continue to try to have flexibility in a pandemic.

We are an enormously large country, and we do not want members who are sick to be in a position where they have to make the choice of whether they represent their constituents or whether—

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

We have a point of order.

The hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, regarding the statement that the government House leader just made on receiving no feedback from opposition parties related to hybrid Parliament—