Hybrid and virtual Senate committee meetings to start after dispute resolved

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OTTAWA — The Senate has resolved a dispute over how its committees should operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to get underway this week.

An attempt to get the committees started two weeks ago failed amid finger-pointing and accusations of obstruction between Conservative senators and members of the Independent Senators Group.

The dispute revolved around Conservative concerns that the Senate was moving toward holding fully virtual committee meetings.

Conservative Senate leader Don Plett feared virtual meetings could eventually become the norm, even after the pandemic is over.

After negotiations with the leaders of other Senate groups, senators have now unanimously adopted a motion by Plett that will see committees meet, where possible, in a hybrid format — with some members in person and others participating virtually.

The motion allows for fully virtual meetings in limited circumstances but makes it clear the new committee arrangements are strictly for the duration of the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2020. 

The Canadian Press