Politics

'OK, let's make history': Hybrid House of Commons convenes to debate COVID-19

"OK, let's make history." With those words from the Speaker of the House of Commons, a hybrid meeting of members of Parliament got underway today.

For 1st time in history, MPs can either be in their seats or log in virtually

Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May is pictured on a large screen as she delivers a statement via teleconference during a meeting of the COVID-19 Pandemic Committee in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. May was the first to talk. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"OK, let's make history." With those words from the Speaker of the House of Commons, a hybrid meeting of members of Parliament got underway today.

For the first time in Canada, MPs are being allowed to participate in parliamentary debate either from their seats in the House of Commons or by logging in online.

Large screens are suspended on either side of the Speaker's chair, and many of the nearly four dozen MPs present in person are watching them avidly as their colleagues across the country raise a range of issues.

It's not, however, a normal sitting of the House of Commons, with all the rules, traditions and privileges that entails.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks and is projected onto large screens. Today saw Canada's first-ever hybrid parliamentary committee in the House of Commons. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Parliament itself is adjourned and has been largely replaced by meetings of a special committee focused almost exclusively on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Conservatives and Bloc Québécois had argued that was no longer sufficient, but lost out in a vote last night that saw the NDP back a Liberal plan to continue with the COVID-19 committee in the hybrid form that began today.

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