The House of Commons is set to convene today in order to pass emergency legislation to provide Canadians with financial relief amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Ahead of the meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau once again addressed Canadians from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on the current landscape surrounding the global pandemic. He also took that time to call on MPs for a sense of urgency in order to quickly pass the bill and get financial aid flowing to citizens and small businesses.
“Passing this bill today means getting you the support you deserve as soon as possible. When you are trying to help get money out to people, speed is of the essence, especially in an unprecedented situation like this one.”
Although Trudeau is urging speed from the Opposition, he added that government protocols would be upheld.
“I want to make it very clear, I believe in our democratic institutions. All of us in parliament must work together and Canadians need to see us doing just that,” Trudeau told media Tuesday morning. “So you have my unwavering commitment, we will protect and uphold our democratic values, we will protect and uphold our democratic institutions as we deliver to Canadians as quickly as possible.”
Despite Trudeau’s ask of efficiency, the emergency sitting of the House of Commons was suspended after only a few minutes.
A small group of 32 MPs was set to begin debate on the financial aid to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis, but House leader Pablo Rodriguez asked that it be suspended as it appeared to him details were still being negotiated.
The continued negotiations come on the heels of the Conservatives balking at a provision that would have given the government sweeping powers to unilaterally spend, borrow and change taxation levels without the approval of Parliament.
The Liberals have since adjusted that language, however, there appears to still be a concern from Conservative MP Scott Reid.
Reid has come forward saying that he’s defying his party to enter the House of Commons today and resist the quick passage of the package due to the constitutional precedent that has been set.
— Scott Reid (@ScottReidCPC) March 24, 2020
The eastern Ontario MP took to Twitter on Tuesday to send out a website entry that outlines why he will refuse the motion.
In the message, Reid wrote measures to allow government spending through an emergency period shouldn’t have been included in a big, complex motion that Friday, since they hadn’t had their first presentation in the Commons yet.
“The House adopted Bills that it had not actually seen and whose contents were, therefore unknown to the Members of the House. More colloquially, the House agreed to buy a pig in a poke,” Reid wrote on his site.
The Conservative MP points to multiple Bills as being problematic, including the motion to allow ministers to make decisions on taxes without parliament approval.
Due to the rushed nature of the Bills, Reid feels steps were skipped in the process.
“I do not deny that the COVID-19 crisis had, by the 13th, induced widespread panic among the public, in Canada and abroad. But panic is never, ever, an excuse to override our ancient political conventions,” wrote the Ontario MP. “These conventions are the oldest and best protections that exist for our political liberties.”
As for Government House Leader Rodriguez, he agreed with Trudeau’s urgency and tweeted a plea for swift action that also suggested that the House would reconvene later on Tuesday.
Canadians need support to get through this. Fast. The negotiations with other parties are still ongoing and the House will resume later today. We all need to come together and get this done. Canadians are counting on us. #cdnpoli
— Pablo Rodriguez (@pablorodriguez) March 24, 2020
This is a developing story that will be updated when more information is available.