Canadian MPs meet online in first virtual session of House of Commons

Canadian MPs meet online in first virtual session of House of Commons

Some MPs couldn’t figure out how to unmute themselves

OTTAWA — Canada’s first-ever virtual House of Commons kicked off this afternoon with almost 90 per cent of MPs dialed in to start.

The House of Commons special committee on COVID-19 is meeting via videoconference this afternoon. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said in his opening statement that he could see that 297 of the 338 MPs were online at that moment.

The special committee was struck as a way to circumvent the rules that govern how official sittings must occur, while further discussions are held about whether those rules can be changed to allow virtual sittings of the House officially.

Just as many Canadians have discovered moving in-person meetings to the virtual world, MPs experienced some technical glitches — mostly with the audio.

Some MPs couldn’t figure out how to unmute themselves, others accidentally began to comment when they didn’t mean to unmute. The biggest problem appeared to be with the translation, a glitch that continually had some MPs complaining they couldn’t hear or that the translation was being played at the same volume as the actual speaker.

Most MPs appeared good-humoured about the problems. Health Minister Patty Hajdu laughed at herself when she was unable to initially figure out how to unmute her microphone.

Being outside the chamber brings its own host of issues, though thus far no children or pets have made an appearance.

Blanchet did have to pause his opening speech because something in his office was ringing. He assured people it was not a fire alarm as he tried to find the source of the noise. Unlike the real House of Commons, Speaker Anthony Rota did not chastise him for the interruption.

He did however chastise MPs he caught taking photos of their screens. Much like photos are not allowed to be taken during House or committee proceedings, Rota told them they are not to take photos of MPs on their screens.

He said he knows it’s a “historic” day but warned them not to post any photos they have taken on social media.

While Rota and MPs can see squares of anyone who is dialed in, the public can only see the person who is speaking, which is similar to the way parliamentary sittings are broadcast in normal times.

Hajdu was the first member of cabinet to issue a statement, thanking front-line and essential workers for their service, and Canadians for doing their part to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada.

“We are seeing hopeful evidence that Canada’s COVID-19 epidemic is slowing down,” she said.

She said the length of time it is taking for the total number of confirmed cases to double, has gone from about three days in late March to more than 16 days now. However Hajdu said the outbreaks in long-term care homes are responsible for more than three-quarters of all deaths in Canada.

“This is indeed a tragedy,” she said.

The rest of the afternoon is now reserved for questions from MPs to ministers, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is participating in the virtual committee meeting from his home office in Ottawa.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Alberta reported its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since December 16 on Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Alberta reports 1,521 additional COVID-19 cases, 674 new variant cases

Daily case total the highest since mid-December

Tyler Campbell, 28, pleaded guilty last November to manslaughter for shooting Ponoka’s Jeffery Kraft, 20, on Dec. 15, 2019 on a rural road just outside Lacombe. Kraft’s supporters were outside the Red Deer provincial court on Tuesday. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Man who pleaded guilty to killing Ponoka man in 2019 seeks new lawyer

Tyler John Campbell expected to apply to change guilty plea after judge rejected suggested sentence

(Black Press file photo)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not pilot new curriculum

Says it will participate ‘when appropriate’

File Photo
Fire restrictions in place for Red Deer and Lacombe Counties

Fire restrictions may be elevated to a fire ban at anytime, Lacombe County says

A cross made out of hockey sticks at a makeshift memorial is silhouetted against the setting sun at the intersection of a fatal bus crash near Tisdale, Sask., on Monday, April, 9, 2018. A virtual tribute is planned to mark the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
VIDEO: Humboldt Broncos team to be honoured on third anniversary of fatal bus crash

16 people died and 13 were injured when a semi-trailer ran a stop sign into the path of the hockey team’s bus

Buckingham Palace officials say Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Alastair Grant
Flags drop, bells toll as Canadians remember special relationship with Prince Philip

‘He was often portrayed as a brisk or brusque, rough character… but it’s that other side of him, the caring individual who spent time with people and asked questions and showed compassion’

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Stettler’s own Renegade Station is kicking off the spring season with a brand new single - to be released April 9th. (Photo submitted)
A brand new single is on the way from Stettler-based band Renegade Station

Free Free Free hits all streaming platforms on April 9th

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau waits for a virtual meeting to begin with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ottawa, Friday February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa mulls exempting more workers from Canada-U.S. border shutdown: Garneau

Canada-U.S. border has been closed to people travelling for vacations and other non-essential visits since March 2020

A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto on January 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls: Statistics Canada

Figure released this morning outpaced the 259,000 gain seen in February

FILE - This file photo dated July 10, 1947 shows the official photograph of Britain’s Princess Elizabeth and her fiance, Lieut. Philip Mountbatten in London. Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died aged 99. (AP Photo/File)
Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies at 99

Philip spent a month in hospital earlier this year before being released on March 16

Campbell River city council will continue its 2020 policy of waiving late fees and NSFs. (Mirror File photo)
53% of Canadians teetering the brink of insolvency: survey

A majority of Canadians admit they’re just $200 away from not being able to pay their monthly bills

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney listens as the 2021 budget is delivered in Edmonton Alta, on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Kenney faces criticism from doctors, his own caucus, over new COVID-19 health rules

Alberta now has more than 10,000 active cases, about 43 per cent are variants

Most Read