Motion to Extend Hybrid Sittings to April 30, 2022
Honourable senators, I will be brief, but I do want to put my comments on the record.
I support extending hybrid sittings to the end of April. Tomorrow is April 1. If we extend to the end of April, it will give people a chance to transition to regular sittings on May 1. I would support reverting to regular sittings on May 1 and that hybrid not be extended beyond the end of April.
I have to say that hybrid sittings are a benefit. I live in the easternmost part of the country. We don’t have direct flights. The best bet to get to Ottawa is the 5:20 a.m. flight, so you have to get up at 3 a.m. You don’t know when you’re going to get home again because flights are often delayed or cancelled. I’m very familiar with the Sheraton at the airport in Toronto and also the Marriott in Montreal, because cancellations are not something that is unknown to me.
It is horrendous to travel, so the hybrid sittings have been a benefit. However, when I look at the Senate and our work, I think that it has had a devastating impact on the Senate. It certainly has had a devastating impact on the Finance Committee. We just finished speaking about that when we discussed Bill C-15 and Bill C-16. We have one regular sitting a week now for the Finance Committee, and it is same for the Banking Committee.
We need more. How can we in the Finance Committee provide oversight of government spending when we are so limited in our meeting times? I think that we really do need to revert to our regular sittings.
The other issue that concerns me is sometimes I feel as if we are in a bubble in Ottawa. When you look at people in the private sector — I have family members and a lot of friends who work in the private sector — they are all returning to their regular work schedules. Employers are having welcome back events for their employees. The government is supporting opening the economy again. We’re not setting a very good example by continuing to look at extending our hybrid sittings.
That is the basis of my comments. I will support extending the hybrid sittings until the end of April, but I would prefer that we revert to regular sittings May 1 so that we can do our work as parliamentarians. Thank you.