Hybrid Parliament can stay, but ministers should show up in person: committee report

Hybrid Parliament can stay

A House of Commons committee says the pandemic-era practice of allowing federal elected officials to vote virtually should be allowed to stay.

Members of Parliament on the committee for procedure and House affairs studied the issue of the hybrid Parliament last year and their report was tabled today.

It contains a series of recommendations, including that MPs continue to be allowed to appear in the House and at committees by video teleconference — but that ministers appear in person.

The practice was introduced in 2020 as the House of Commons joined the thousands of workplaces across the country that closed their doors and went virtual at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, a debate has ensued about whether MPs should be allowed to continue appearing virtually when there are no public health restrictions preventing them from doing so.

The committee recommends that the House of Commons administration look for ways to improve the situation for interpreters who have reported workplace injuries due to the poor sound quality of virtual platforms.

In the House on Monday afternoon, the committee's chair, Liberal MP Bardish Chagger, called the study that led to the report a "fruitful conversation, really bringing our Parliament into the 21st century."

But Conservatives dissented to the report, with MP John Nater saying in the House that the hybrid Parliament was a "pandemic necessity" but the report goes "too far, too fast" in keeping it around.

He said that there should be "multi-party consensus" for any permanent changes.

The report calls for the committee to review the measures again within a year of the beginning of the next Parliament, which will be sworn in after the next federal election.

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