Too early for parliament to resume full sittings: Trudeau

The Green Party of Canada said it will not provide unanimous consent for frequent in-person sittings until public health advice backed the move.
Justin Trudeau

Ottawa, April 20 : Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that it was too early for the country’s House of Commons to resume full sittings from Monday when the COVID-19 pandemic was still ravaging in the country.

Canada is making progress in the battle against COVID-19 but will have to be extremely cautious about removing physical distancing measures and other restrictions, Trudeau said at his Sunday’s press conference.

“We’ve seen the numbers trending in the right direction, so we need to keep doing what we’re doing and keep being extremely careful,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trudeau as saying.

Without unanimous consent from parties on an alternative arrangement, the House is scheduled to resume full sittings from Monday after it was suspended five weeks ago.

MPs from across Canada are expected to return to their seats unless the ruling Liberal government and opposition parties can agree on an alternative arrangement while public health officials continue their push for nationwide physical distancing.

“We are in a situation where our public health authorities, our experts and common sense tell us we need to continue to limit our movements,” Trudeau said.

“We need to continue to work from home, we need to continue to do everything we can to ensure that people are kept safe from further spread of this pandemic,” he added.

With physical distancing order still in place, political parties have been negotiating over how to continue fulfilling their parliamentary roles while respecting safety protocols.

So far, no parties have advocated for the House to reconvene with all 338 MPs returning to work in Ottawa.

The ruling Liberal Party proposed one in-person sitting with a limited number of MPs per week bolstered by a virtual sitting to prevent COVID-19 from spreading among all 338 MPs along with their staff, clerks, interpreters, security and cleaners.

But the opposition Conservative Party pushed for three in-person sittings per week with a smaller number of MPs and two hours per day for question period.

Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party asked for the House to meet in-person once per week, on top of two virtual sessions that would involve hearing from a larger contingent of MPs.

The Green Party of Canada said it will not provide unanimous consent for frequent in-person sittings until public health advice backed the move.

As of Monday, 36,039 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed across the country, with 1,625 deaths.

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