April 10th, 2020
On accountability in the House during crisis time
As the House of Commons sits to pass its second round of emergency legislation to sustain Canadians through the COVID-19 crisis, MP Rachel Blaney is playing an extremely important part in all of this from her home. Rachel, in her role as party whip, has been tapped as the NDP’s lead on accountability measures and the role Parliament will play over the duration of the crisis.
“Accountability is important for every government, but even more so during these unprecedented times. We asked for committees to meet during the crisis, and the Finance and Health committees are already doing that to evaluate the government’s response,” she said. “In these fast changing times, committees and conversations with Ministers lead to changes in programming that gets help out to more people.”
With the introduction and acceptance of today’s unanimous consent motion in the House of Commons, the Standing Committee on House Procedure and Affairs (PROC) will now also be meeting regularly to discuss the creation and implementation of a virtual sitting of Parliament. Rachel is one of the members of that committee and looks forward to exploring this new concept in Canadian democracy.
“The challenges with a virtual sitting are enormous, but with today’s technology it should be possible. It’s harder for Canada than most other jurisdictions because we have to consider things like simultaneous broadcast in both official languages and how to manage that online. Internet connectivity, depending on where Members of Parliament may live, can be another challenge,” she said. “Public Health is telling Canadians we cannot be traveling or even leaving our homes frequently. I hope Members of Parliament are leaders in this and not traveling across Canada like they normally would.”
Rachel says her biggest priority is making sure the government is held accountable to rural and remote communities during these times. “With MPs who are already near Ottawa being prioritized for meeting in the House for public health reasons, we have to make sure that the voices of MPs who live further away aren’t lost. The constituents of North Island – Powell River are my top priority and I’m looking forward to finding new ways to bring their voices to the Federal Government.”
"We’re all stressed out right now and I think it’s really important to remember to be kind to one another and while we’re all living through this, I just want to remind everyone to stay safe. We’ve seen some preliminary success here in BC and we need to keep it up. Every time you decide to stay home you could be saving someone else’s life.”