Liberals, NDP, BQ agree to new plan for Commons virtual operation, Conservatives dissent

Conservatives won't agree to virtual Commons plan backed by all other parties because others won't accept their plan on how Commons committees should operate during the winter break.

The Canadian Press with CNC files

OTTAWA — The House of Commons has adjourned for a six-week Christmas break amid a dispute over how it should resume in the new year.

A motion that has allowed the Commons to sit in a hybrid format throughout the fall — with about 80 MPs in the chamber and the rest participating virtually to help curb the spread of COVID-19 — expires today.

The minority Liberal government wants the Commons to resume on Jan. 25 in the same format but with MPs using a new app that would make it easier and faster for them to vote electronically.

Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez says the BQ and NDP agree with the proposal, but not the Conservatives.

Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell says because the Liberals won't agree to his proposal on how to allow Commons committees to continue to operate during the break, he won't agree to the plan accepted by the other parties to let the Commons operate virtually.

Without an agreement, if the Commons needs to be recalled to deal with an emergency or Senate amendments to the assisted-dying bill, all 338 MPs would theoretically be expected to be physically present in the chamber.

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