In light of the recent Covid-19 outbreaks and the arrival of a variant in New Brunswick, the Official Opposition is calling on government to allow virtual participation in the routine proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, should the need arise.
“Every MLA should have the opportunity to participate fully in the business of the Legislative Assembly, and the technology is available to permit elected members to participate remotely” says Official Opposition House Leader, Guy Arseneault. “Parliamentary bodies in other jurisdictions have adapted to the new reality of Covid-19 and modified the rules for participation by elected members in the affairs of Parliaments and/or Legislative Assemblies, we can and should do the same.”
After Minister Cardy refused to give unanimous consent to allow virtual sittings of the House, the Official Opposition tabled a motion urging the Speaker to ensure that technology is adopted in the Legislative Assembly that allows for virtual participation in the affairs of the Legislative Assembly. Motion 26 was presented by Interim Leader Roger Melanson and seconded by Official Opposition House Leader Guy Arseneault in December 2020.
“I believe the majority of the members would feel better knowing they have the option of participating virtually should an outbreak occur in their zone or in Zone 3, or should they need to self-isolate” says Guy Arseneault. “If the majority of members vote in favour of our motion, Minister Cardy will not be able to subvert the will of the House and single-handedly prevent the use of technology for virtual participation for routine proceedings.”
Arseneault says the drastic spike in Covid-19 cases in January should be a wakeup call for government. “Government has shown a serious lack of transparency in recent months and needs to be held accountable now more than ever. Covid-19 is still all around us and there may be future lockdowns in the province, but the important work of the Legislative Assembly should not be compromised when we have tools to allow full remote participation.”