Canada govt mulls holding virtual parliament session during Covid-19 crisis

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The Canadian government is exploring the possibility of holding virtual sessions of Parliament to pass legislation, as part of emergency measures to counter the impact of Covid-19 crisis.

The idea has been mooted by Pablo Rodriguez, a leader of the ruling Liberal Party in the House of Commons, in a letter to the Speaker Anthony Rota, as well as leaders of three major Opposition parties.

The proposal comes as the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempts historic bailout measures for employers and workers across the country. As the coronavirus crisis became pronounced in March, the House of Commons was suspended, but sittings with the minimum number of members required were held on March 23 and 24. While the House remains suspended till April 20, Trudeau has called for another emergency session in the week ahead to pass more measures.

Rodriguez’s effort comes in that context, as he wrote to the Speaker seeking to gauge “ability of the House of Commons administration to support and facilitate virtual sittings”. He pointed out that Canadians are working from home and only leaving for essential chores. He stated, “It is only appropriate that Members of Parliament practice these same measures, and adapt the way that we conduct our business during the time the House cannot meet on a regular and normal basis.”

While the response from Opposition leaders to this proposal has been positive, it will require changes to the Standing Orders governing the running of the House of Commons, for business to be conducted remotely.

The number of people killed by the Sars-CoV-2 virus in Canada has jumped by just over 20 per cent to 258 in a day, officials said on Sunday.

On Sunday morning, the number of those diagnosed with Covid-19 had risen by almost 12 per cent to 14,426, the public health agency said. The respective figures on Saturday were 214 deaths and 12,924 positive diagnoses.

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