- Parliament reconvenes with a familiar seat map but a new set of challenges.
- However, Holland hopes to keep the dual format going until at least June 2022.
The House of Commons will reconvene after a nearly five-month hiatus, punctuated by an election campaign that resulted in a seat map that looks very similar to the one from the previous session of Parliament.
Today’s first order of business is to choose a Speaker to preside over the chamber’s proceedings.
Following that vote, Government House Leader Mark Holland told News that the following priorities would be to re-establish the hybrid model that allows MPs to dial in from outside Ottawa and enforce a new vaccine mandate for parliamentarians.
Already, the vaccine mandate is a source of contention. After weeks of silence and threats to challenge the new vaccination rules, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole confirmed to Radio-Canada over the weekend that all Conservative MPs have been vaccinated or have obtained a medical exemption. However, O’Toole would not say how many caucus colleagues could avoid the vaccine mandate by claiming an exemption.
BOIE, the committee of MPs that essentially governs the House, states that an MP may be exempted if they have proof of “a medical contraindication to full vaccination.”
O’Toole, who is challenging an organized challenge to his leadership in the form of a petition from a now-former caucus colleague, said he persuaded the holdouts to take a shot or produce documents proving why they couldn’t.
Meanwhile, Holland insists on a hybrid Parliament in which some MPs are physically present in the House of Commons while others speak and vote remotely. The final hybrid agreement expired when the House was dissolved before the September election.
“We must keep doing this and the flexibility it provides,” he said. “I don’t want to come back in March and re-litigate everything, wasting precious House time.”
O’Toole has rejected the restoration of the hybrid model, describing it as a cynical attempt by the government to avoid accountability and undermine the work of the opposition parties.
Source: CBC News