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Scheer presses for more House of Commons powers as coronavirus crisis stretches on

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer says return of parliament allows for ‘better legislative process’' Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer says return of parliament allows for ‘better legislative process’
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Tuesday that he and his party has been calling for the House of Commons to resume in-person, even with a smaller number of MPs physically present, because it allows for a “better legislative process,” including having committees being able to compel both documents and witnesses to help better hold the government to account. – May 19, 2020

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says more parliamentary powers must be restored to properly scrutinize the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says the existing thrice-weekly meetings of a special COVID-19 committee and the smattering of other committees still in session aren’t enough.

READ MORE: Some businesses begin to slowly reopen after long weekend

Scheer says among other things, the current set-up doesn’t allow MPs to compel the government to produce documents or to get witnesses to testify.

He says a demand that business in the House of Commons return to a new normal is not a partisan issue but a question of the need for the vital role of Parliament to be restored.

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The House of Commons adjourned in mid-March as the pandemic began to sweep across Canada, coinciding with the implementation of travel bans, quarantines and physical distancing requirements.

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It’s returned several times since for single-day sessions to pass emergency aid legislation, and meanwhile the special COVID-19 committee also meets.

Scheer also used the press conference to criticize the exclusion of Taiwan from the World Health Assembly meetings taking place over recent days.

Taiwan is among the few countries in the world that halted the spread of the coronavirus pandemic successfully and has lobbied for observer status at the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body.

READ MORE: Trudeau thanks Taiwan directly for ‘generous’ mask donation

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government supports Taiwan’s inclusion, Scheer said Trudeau hasn’t pushed too hard and that his comments were too little, too late.

Scheer has accused the Liberals of using a policy of appeasement towards China, which object’s to Taiwan’s participation in the WHO because it views the island as a breakaway province.

Canada, the United States and six major allies told the WHO that its ongoing exclusion of Taiwan has created a serious public health concern during the COVID-19 crisis.

They were not able to win access for Taiwan at the World Health Assembly meetings this week, after arguing that its early success at controlling the pandemic qualified it to participate as an observer.

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