(Ottawa) Like millions of Canadians, MPs see the possibility of returning to normal business after 15 months of telecommuting with mixed feelings.
For most elected officials, returning to normalcy means traveling and being away from loved ones.
However, MPs are eager to return to the daily routine as soon as the COVID-19 epidemic is eradicated.
Since September, the Commons and its Standing Committees have been operating on a hybrid basis. A small group of MPs in Parliament is physical, while the rest are involved in parliamentary activities.
During the first six months of the epidemic, MPs sat for only one or two days at a time to pursue various emergency measures. There is a minimum number of elected officials.
Government whip Mark Hollande said he was “blown away” by how Commons staff were able to work out the hybrid formula. However, he does not want to continue it when the epidemic is over.
I have no doubt about the importance of meeting in person. Failure to do so has caused us to miss opportunities. Physical existence in Ottawa is essential to the work we do. There was a fruitful exchange of ideas, contingencies of opportunity to discuss and a lot of established links. These are really important things for Parliament to work on.
Mark Holland, Government Whip
Christine Normandin, the deputy parliamentary leader of the Black Cubacois, claims that teleworking has become a reality.
Elected fresh in October 2019, she enjoyed only a few weeks of regular parliamentary activity. OmTo me Normandy says he still knows his 31 Black Cubacois comrades.
« [Mais] It’s not like having a caucus in person, having everyone in the House of Commons together and having conversations at the same time. These cannot be done while we are in Zoom. ”
New Democrat MP Daniel Blake does not want to pursue a virtual debate formula despite the benefits of working from home.
“I have been very happy to be close with my children for the past 15 months,” he admitted. Being at home and not traveling 10 hours a week is great and even more so for some co-workers. This is the precious time we lose and we cannot recover. ”
According to Mr. Blake, the hybrid parliament created a completely different atmosphere and culture. He was lonely in some ways.
Politics is the art we hear. It’s hard to do when you can’t see each other.
Daniel Blake, NDP MP
Mark Hollande said it was difficult for him to run a party of 155 MPs due to lack of personal contact.
He said new MPs do not have the opportunity to get to know or get to know their colleagues better. It became more difficult to get to know the new MPs from the opposition parties and to give crucial connections to the survival of the minority government.
“You usually get to know them in the hall and in the committee rooms. We can’t. In some ways there is a lack of integration because we have not been able to establish these relationships, ”Mr. Hollande argued.
Conservatives are eager to get back to normal.
“Anyone who has seen the talks over the past year will say that video conference talks are not really a substitute,” Conservative whip Blake Richards said in a written statement. From the beginning [de la crise sanitaire], We argue that these measures should be temporary and that MPs should personally return to work when it is safe to do so. ”
MPs Blake, Hollande and Normandy were of the opinion that a consensus of all parties was needed if we were to pursue certain aspects of the hybrid formula.
“There are definitely positive things,” M. notes.To me Normandine.
Participating some distance, she said, could encourage people with small children or want to start a family to get into politics. She is also wondering if you can adopt a virtual partnership in certain situations like a blizzard.
“No one wants the House of Commons to be 100% virtual,” said a Saint-Jean member. No one wants that. We need to find balance. ”