“OK, let’s make history”: hybrid House of Commons convenes to debate COVID-19

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OTTAWA — “OK, let’s make history”: with those words from the Speaker of the House of Commons, a hybrid meeting of members of Parliament is now underway.

It’s the first time in Canadian history that MPs are able to either be in seats in the House of Commons or logged in virtually to debate.

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, tradition and privileges that entails.

Parliament itself is adjourned, largely replaced with meetings of a special committee focused almost exclusively on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois 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.