Justin Trudeau – iPolitics AM: Parliament to resume today, but in what format?
With just a few hours to go until the House of Commons reopens for business after a month-long winter hiatus, the parties are reportedly still working out the logistics of returning to regular parliamentary programming amid a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.
Speaking with iPolitics last week, New Democrat House leader Peter Julian seemed all but certain that a deal would be reached to temporarily move to an online-only virtual format, although the Bloc Québécois indicated that they would prefer to return to the hybrid model adopted last fall, which allowed for a limited number of MPs — and party leaders — to attend proceedings in person with the majority participating via video.
(While not quoted in the story, the Conservatives have previously expressed concern over the e-voting app that would be used to tally the yeas and nays for the duration of the remote sittings.)
According to the latest dispatch from Canadian Press, Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez has characterized the ongoing negotiations over pandemic protocols as “constructive,” although he declined to provide any additional details on the putative plan, which could nevertheless be presented to MPs as early as this morning.
Either way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to face his cross-aisle adversaries during the opening round of question period this afternoon, although his itinerary doesn’t specify whether he’ll be physically present in the Chamber, or join the proceedings via webcam.
He’s also planning to make an early morning virtual appearance at the opening session of the Climate Adaptation Summit, which is being hosted out of the Netherlands and, as per the website, will bring together “global leaders and local stakeholders” to launch a “comprehensive Adaptation Action Agenda that sets out clear commitments to deliver concrete new endeavours and partnerships to make our world more resilient to the effects of climate change.” (7:55 AM)
Back in the precinct, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has scheduled a mid-morning in-person media availability to share his thoughts on the imminent return of the House, during which he’ll likely reiterate his concern over the delay in vaccine deliveries, as well as the decision by newly installed U.S. President Joe Biden to nix the Keystone XL pipeline. (9 AM)
Later this morning, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh will share his priorities for the upcoming sitting — which, as per the advisory, include “fighting for paid sick days for people, making sure people get vaccinated and getting profits out of long-term care” — via Zoom. (10:30 AM)
Meanwhile, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul’s pre-sitting press conference will take place via Facebook. (9:45 AM)
Elsewhere on the Hill media circuit, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland joins her Associate Finance Minister Mona Fortier for a midday announcement and media availability. (12:30 PM)
While the advisory offers no additional information on what to expect from on the planned reveal, it’s worth noting that Freeland’s omnibus proposal to implement the new COVID support measures that she outlined in her fall economic statement is currently at the top of the government’s back-to-work legislative to-do list, and is on track to begin second reading consideration later today.
Also on the Commons docket: Conservative MP Bob Saroya will wrap up the first round of debate on his backbench bid to crack down on illegal firearms imports, which will go to a vote later this week.
ON AND AROUND THE HILL
The Parliamentary Budget Office releases a report on the estimated cost of Conservative MP Marty Morantz’s proposal to remove the capital gains tax from charitable donations that involve real estate or shares in private corporations. (9 AM)
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