Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor. (Photo by Bernard Thibodeau)

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor. (Photo by Bernard Thibodeau)

MP REPORT: Parliament still working, despite what some are saying

Alistair MacGregor is the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

Alistair MacGregor

MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

Members of Parliament are still working in the roles the people of Canada elected them to do, namely holding the government to account and scrutinizing its various policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though the House of Commons has been, with the exceptions of March 24/25, April 11, April 20, April 29, May 13, May 25/26, and June 10, effectively adjourned since March 13, there is still debate and discussion within the chamber. We are now utilizing a hybrid model, which allows MPs to attend either in person or virtually through the Zoom platform.

There were serious concerns from public health officials in having the full House of Commons resume, as it would have required all 338 of us to fly back and forth across Canada, potentially acting as the perfect vectors for the spread of COVID-19. Even if only a small number of MPs were to participate in person and respect physical distancing rules, it would still leave many constituencies across Canada without effective representation, especially because there is no mechanism to allow for remote voting. It is certainly not a replacement for the full House of Commons, but it is an adequate measure for the time being.

The Special Committee on COVID-19, composed of the entire membership of the House of Commons, and the various standing committees that are meeting regularly each week are providing MPs with an appropriate avenue to question all aspects of the government’s strategy to combat this pandemic. The five-minute back and forth question rounds are proving to be a far superior option to the 35 seconds that are given during a usual Question Period. They are allowing for more substantive exchanges and follow-up questions, especially if a minister does not give a satisfactory response.

The regular calendar had the House of Commons sitting only until June 23, meaning that there was less than a month left to go before we adjourned until our scheduled return on Sept. 21. The House does not normally sit through July or August, but the NDP caucus managed to negotiate sittings on July 8th, July 22nd, August 12, and August 26th so that we can hold the government to account through the summer.

My goal through this pandemic has always been to get more help to more people more quickly. We now have a model where every MP has the chance to participate and represent their constituents, whether virtually through the Zoom platform or in-person in the House chamber. Throughout this pandemic, we have constructively used our leverage in the House of Commons to make programs and benefits better and have worked to provide more accountability from the government while respecting the physical distancing recommendations of our public health officials. Despite this pandemic, Canadians have continued working hard, and as Members of Parliament, it is important that we do the same.

Alistair MacGregor is the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

federal government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Darrel McLeod won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2018 for his first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. His newly-released memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, follows as a sequel. (Black Press Media file)
Critically acclaimed Sooke author releases new memoir

Peyakow follows as a sequel to Darrel McLeod’s first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Downed trees account for the majority of power outages, according to BC Hydro, which plans to spend more money on tree pruning and hazardous tree removal in coming years in the face of changing weather and growing patterns caused by climate change. (Photo courtesy of the City of Langford)
BC Hydro says safety guides tree removal policy

Crown corporation says it will work with property owners wherever possible

(Photo by Mojpe/Pixabay)
Canadian kids extracting record amount from Tooth Fairy

Our neighbours in the U.S. receive slightly less from Tooth Fairy visits

Capital Regional District headquarters entrance on Fisgard Street in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria regional services get a $575,000 boost from Safe Restart Grant

CRD allocates latest grants to help service areas affected by pandemic challenges

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark. (Black Press Media files)
Former B.C. premier to testify at money laundering hearing today

Attorney General David Eby has been added to the witness list as well

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to table budget that’s expected to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Robinson released a fiscal update last December that said the impact of the pandemic on B.C.’s economy was uncertain

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five western Vancouver Island First Nations celebrate legal fishing victory

Court ruling confirms Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights in case dating back to 2003

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Most Read