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View John Brassard Profile
Thank you, Madam Chair.
As I look at these recommendations, and I think I expressed this concern yesterday, the generalized sense of what these recommendations look like is that many of them are forward looking, perhaps beyond what the mandate of the committee is with respect to this study. I went through it again and I want to make this clear. It is important that we all get a sense of what we would like to see in this, and those recommendations are disjointed, in my view.
I go back to the original motion that was put before the House, the House order on April 11. It is:
(m) the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to study ways in which members can fulfill their parliamentary duties while the House stands adjourned on account of public health concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the temporary modification of certain procedures, sittings in alternate locations and technological solutions including a virtual Parliament, provided that (i) during the period the House stands adjourned pursuant to this order, the provisions applying to committees enumerated in paragraph (l) shall also apply to the committee, however, the committee may consider motions related to the adoption of a draft report in relation to this topic, (ii) the committee be instructed to present a report no later than May 15, 2020, (iii) any report which is adopted pursuant to subparagraph (ii) may be deposited electronically with the Clerk of the House, and shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House on that date;
The rest of the motion talks about receiving evidence.
From my standpoint right now, we need to look at this on a macro level. Many of these recommendations look beyond what our mandate is. Given the time to study this properly, we can push this off to study further a little later on.
What we're dealing with right now are recommendations on the current crisis. Of course, we've seen evidence, even when we first started this study on April 16, that things are starting to change significantly right across the country. There are legislatures, as we know, that are opening up. Businesses have been opened. There are several more businesses that are opening. People are working. I think that, at a minimum, what we need to do today, as we go forward with these recommendations, is to set and be the example of what is happening and what is reflective across this country.
It doesn't necessarily mean the fact that all 338 of us are going to come back, but I think the basis of our recommendations needs to reflect how Parliament is going to function, function as we're used to, whether or not that's a hybrid model of Parliament. We have to get back to some sense of normalcy where there is a level of accountability that occurs. The place to make that happen is in the House of Commons, but there are options available to us. As we narrow down these recommendations, we really need to focus on how we're going to function properly.
As the House sits now, it's adjourned, but obviously, May 25 is coming up, when the House is expected to reconvene. That should be our sole focus. Any talk about the future of Parliament, changing the Standing Orders and all of that stuff, we can deal with at a later date. The basis of this motion is in relation to the COVID-19 crisis. I think all of us can agree that has evolved greatly over the course of the last couple of months. We're in a position right now where we, as leaders in this country, should be making recommendations to Parliament that we get back to a sense of normalcy.
I'm not talking about full normalcy in terms of Parliament, but some sense of normalcy to show that leadership and to make sure that Parliament is functioning and that it's functioning well, and that there is a level of accountability that exists. I think that is well within our mandate. Looking beyond to the future, as many of these recommendations do, we can do later.
Right now, let's stick to what we are mandated to do and make sure that we come out of this with recommendations to Parliament that will allow us to function.
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