Parliament back today as UK-variant breaches borders, election rumours persist

Canada's Parliament returns today with opposition parties expected to press on border controls and vaccination while the governing Liberals show no signs of working to avoid a spring election.

The Canadian Press with CNC files

OTTAWA — The federal government’s handling of COVID-19 is set to dominate the agenda when Parliament resumes today.

Members of Parliament are expected to work together to again allow virtual attendance in the House of Commons as many provinces remain in lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic.

They are also set to adopt an app that will let MPs vote remotely.

Yet those shows of unity are likely to be the exception rather than the rule as opposition parties have indicated they plan to press the minority Liberal government on a number of fronts.

That could start with grilling the government over any plan to tighten border controls amid evidence the so-called UK-variant of the COVID-19 virus is now entering Canada.

While the Liberal government has not closed the border or supervised isolation requirements for those entering Canada, it has committed to prevent people who don't have a sick-leave plan from being able to collect the federal government's sick-leave benefit while in quarantine if they leave Canada.

The government will also face questions about vaccination timetable, which has been affected by Pfizer’s recent move to deliver only a fraction of the shots it promised over the next few weeks.

Looming in the background will be the ever-present threat of a snap spring election, with the opposition accusing the Liberals of wanting to send Canadians to the polls — a charge the government denies, but so far has done nothing to avoid.

The government will also be under pressure to lay out its plans to identify and appoint a new governor general after Julie Payette resigned last week over allegations of overseeing a toxic workplace.

 

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