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House of Commons resumes regular sittings despite pandemic, Nova Scotia shooting

FILE: The House of Commons in Ottawa on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

MPs have been forced to return to the House of Commons for regular business


Regular sittings resumed after political parties failed to reach an agreement on reduced in-person meetings


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he was confident an agreement could be reached


OTTAWA – In the wake of the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, and amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, members of Parliament have been forced to return to the House of Commons for regular business, after political parties failed to reach an agreement on reduced sittings.

As most of the country tries to work from home and practice physical distancing, a limited number of MP’s are back in the house debating procedure — in person.

Green Party MP Paul Manly kicked off the sitting by filing an official complaint the safety of MP’s is being put at risk

“The rights and privileges of many members is prima facie violated by any motion to proceed with regular sittings of the House,” he said Monday.

The Conservatives spiked an all-party agreement to hold one in-person sitting day a week, along with two virtual sittings, saying they need at least two in-person sittings to hold the government to account for its response in this pandemic.

“Though it’s clearly the case that in this pandemic and this crisis, we need more accountability, more oversight, not less of it,” Tory Leader Andrew Scheer said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously criticized the Conservative stance, but struck a different tone in the wake of the massacre in Nova Scotia.

“I don’t want to get into arguments with anyone today. We are working together among all parties to try and figure out a way to both protect and uphold our democracy to ensure there is proper accountability, while at the same time doing that responsibly,” he said at his daily briefing Monday. “I’m hopeful that by the end of the day today, we’ll have a clear path forward, that we’ll both defend our institutions and appreciate the context that we’re in right now.”

The Bloc Quebecois claims the Conservatives are holding parliament hostage.

The House of Commons is currently debating a Liberal motion on changing the rules for sittings.