P.E.I. MPs get set to return to Ottawa as House of Common resumes next week
Pandemic restrictions have limited most MPs to virtual appearances
Sean Casey is looking forward to getting back to the House of Commons.
The Charlottetown MP has not been in Ottawa since the pandemic restrictions were put in place in mid-March.
But when the House of Commons resumes next Wednesday with a speech from the throne, Casey will be there in person.
"We were sent home the 14th of March and since then the House of Commons has been more or less at the kitchen table with a headset on looking into a laptop, as has caucus and standing committees and everything else, so this will be the first time in person," Casey said in an interview with CBC News.
Casey says P.E.I. health officials have deemed MPs are essential workers, which means they will not have to self-isolate for 14 days when they return to the Island.
'We do have to have more assistance'
MPs will be tested for COVID when they return.
Their self-isolation ends when the test comes back, which is usually within a couple of days. They will then be tested a second time seven days later.
Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey said he will take part virtually from his riding. But he and other MPs will return to Ottawa when they are assigned to be there in person.
Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay, P.E.I.'s only federal cabinet minister, will be in Ottawa for the throne speech, as will Malpeque MP Wayne Easter.
Easter said the focus of the fall session will be the continued fallout from the pandemic.
"I think we do have to have more assistance going forward for airports and airlines. I'm worried about where we are in Atlantic Canada," said Easter.
'There isn't any burning desire ... to force an election'
"We need more assistance for the tourism industry. We are not out of COVID yet. But we are certainly not out of the damage that COVID has done to the business community and I want to enforce those concerns with a number of cabinet ministers in Ottawa."
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole is downplaying talk of the Tories triggering a fall election, saying he's more focused on holding the Liberal government to account — but some political observers are not ruling out a fall election.
Casey describes the likelihood of a fall election as "remote."
"There isn't any burning desire on the part of the prime minister to force an election, he's been very clear on that," said Casey, who is the chair of the Atlantic Liberal caucus. "I don't see it as a realistic possibility this fall at all."