Politics

Rookie MPs in Ottawa for a crash course on being a parliamentarian

Ninety-eight new MPs are in Ottawa to learn how to manage their budgets, get their parking passes and, later on, protect their sanity.

90 first-time MPs join 8 who have served in previous Parliaments for orientation sessions

Two newly-elected MPs - New Democrat Matthew Green, left, and Liberal Steven Guilbeault - take part in orientation sessions in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Ninety-eight new MPs are in Ottawa to learn how to manage their budgets, get their parking passes and, later on, protect their sanity.

The House of Commons last week began welcoming the rookie MPs — including eight who are returning to the job after some time away — for training sessions on how to set up their offices and find their way around the parliamentary precinct.

Jeffrey LeBlanc, principal clerk, said that learning how to hire staffers is usually the No. 1 concern of new MPs.

When the time comes for the House of Commons to sit again, MPs will come back for another round of training sessions that will include learning how to navigate the ins and outs of parliamentary procedure — a trickier endeavour with a minority government.

Collaboration a must, Bloc MP says

Stéphane Bergeron of the Bloc Québécois, elected again after having served from 1997 to 2005, said it's important for everyone in the Commons to keep cool heads.

"The temptation to want to do battle may be very strong, but I think that the citizens of Canada and Quebec did not elect us to return to an election immediately," he said Tuesday.

"So I think we have to be accountable to the people who sent us here and try to make this Parliament work by collaborating."

Among the lessons yet to come will be sessions with veteran MPs doling out advice — which LeBlanc said is often a good time to talk about how to balance work with real life.

"Their schedule is difficult to manage. They have a lot of demands on their time. They're travelling a lot," he said.

"I think that is a message that often comes out in the MP panel is the impact that the work has on their family life."

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