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Bloc Québécois leader, caucus in isolation after staffer tests positive for COVID-19

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The leader of the Bloc Québécois and the party’s entire caucus are in self-isolation after a staff member tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The preventive measure was announced Monday afternoon by the party’s spokesperson in a statement, who said members are taking the proper precautions.

“We will all be screened to ensure the health of our team and strictly adhere to public health guidelines,” said Carolane Landry in a statement. “There is no risk involved. Rest assured that we take this situation very seriously.”

READ MORE: Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade in isolation while awaiting COVID-19 test results

Landry said the staff member who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, works in leader Yves-François Blanchet’s office.

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Bloc MPs will be working virtually while they await their test results.

The precaution comes as the parties in the House of Commons continue debating amongst themselves how the chamber will work once business resumes next week amid the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

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The Liberals are proposing a hybrid system which would allow some MPs to be physically present while others would participate via video conference.

Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez said Monday that “definitely the NDP and the Bloc are open” to the proposal.

“We have to find a way to have those regular sittings of the House … but taking into consideration that we can’t be 338 (MPs) in the same room so we have to find a way to vote (electronically), which is the critical part here,” he said outside a cabinet retreat in Ottawa where Trudeau and his ministers were holed up.

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Rodriguez said the Commons administration is working on an application to allow for secure, transparent, remote voting but, until that can be tested, he suggested there could be “Zoom votes.” He added that he’s open to other ideas for remote voting that opposition parties might suggest.

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However, the Conservatives have indicated they are opposed to electronic voting in any form. They’ve suggested that there are safe ways for all 338 MPs to vote, such as having staggered voting with a limited number of MPs allowed into the chamber at a time.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the Conservatives are being “completely irresponsible.” What’s happened to the Bloc is a “warning” about what can happen if too many MPs gather together in the same place, he added.

Theoretically, all 338 MPs could return to the House of Commons next week but Rodriguez said he’s hoping all parties will agree to limit the number who actually show up for the opening couple of days until they can vote on how the chamber should function going forward.

The Liberals have only a minority of seats and will thus need the support of at least one of the main opposition parties to pass their proposal for hybrid sittings with electronic voting.

With files from Global News’ Marc-André Cossette and the Canadian Press