Politicians to meet virtually for legislative committees

·1 min read
For the first time, the P.E.I. legislature has invoked new rules to allow MLAs to participate in proceedings remotely.  (Brian Higgins/CBC News - image credit)
For the first time, the P.E.I. legislature has invoked new rules to allow MLAs to participate in proceedings remotely. (Brian Higgins/CBC News - image credit)

For the first time, the P.E.I. legislature has invoked new rules to allow MLAs to participate in proceedings remotely.

MLAs were advised Monday by the clerk that the legislature is implementing its "virtual hybrid proceeding provision," which allows MLAs to participate either in-person or via the internet.

Under the current schedule, the first test of the new rules will be a meeting of the standing committee on education and economic development, scheduled for 1:30 pm Tuesday.

Hybrid proceedings are allowed under rule 114 of the legislature, which came into effect at the start of 2021, "in urgent or extraordinary circumstances" at the discretion of the speaker.

For committee meetings, guests are required to participate remotely, while the committee chair is required to be in the chamber. Media are allowed to attend but the public is not. Proceedings are to be made available to the public through the legislative assembly's website.

Decision will be reviewed

The decision to move to hybrid proceedings will be reviewed Jan. 17, based on public health conditions at that time. The next sitting of the legislature is set to begin Feb. 22.

The move to hybrid or virtual proceedings has led to challenges in other jurisdiction, beyond people forgetting to take themselves off mute.

In Ottawa, virtual proceedings have led to technological problems, security concerns, staff burnout, and the decision on whether to implement them has itself become a topic of debate among political parties.

Former Liberal MP William Amos stepped down from his committee and parliamentary secretary duties in 2021, after twice being caught naked on his web camera during parliamentary proceedings.

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