NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh rises in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, as Parliament was recalled for the consideration of measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Saturday, April 11, 2020. Singh says he has not changed his position on the tentative deal struck with the Liberals, and Bloc Québécois about the conditions under which Parliament should resume. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Parties still can’t agree on how best to resume House of Commons

Argument is over how often to sit and use of virtual meetings

Canada’s political parties have until 11 a.m. Eastern time to reach a deal about how best to re-open Parliament or else the House of Commons is to resume on its normal schedule, but so far no consensus has been reached.

The NDP, Bloc Quebecois, and Liberals reached a tentative agreement to sit in person once a week, but Conservatives have said that is not enough.

Most parties say the only reason to be physically present in the House of Commons is to vote on legislation. The reason they proposed one sitting per week is so those votes can happen quickly, without having to reconvene an emergency session.

Two virtual sittings of the committee of the whole per week can accommodate all other needs, said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a Monday morning news conference

Those virtual sittings would not only minimize contact, but also make sure people in regions far from Ottawa would be able to question the government.

“It’s important to hear voices from parliamentarians across this country,” Singh said.

The NDP have three MPs in Ottawa, including Singh, who say they are prepared to stay in the capital as long as necessary to reach a deal with the other parties.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet accused the Conservatives of holding parliament “hostage” for partisan reasons, and said he wants to get to the business of serving Canadians and the people of Quebec.

The Bloc said its priorities during the next sitting of the House is to promote the needs of seniors, and the NDP cited students who will be out of work this summer as one of their top concerns.

Both the NDP and the Bloc said they were confident a deal could be reached by the 11 a.m. deadline.

The Senate has broken until at least June 2, though several committees have plans to meet virtually and the full body can be recalled if legislation need to be passed.

READ MORE: Stage set for resumption of Parliament as Tories reject virtual Commons sittings

READ MORE: B.C. police can now issue $2,000 tickets for reselling medical supplies, price gouging

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


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