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Trudeau avoids scrutiny by cutting sitting days in House of Commons

The Liberal government, which is set to limit House of Commons sitting days this year, is part of a plan to a concerted effort to avoid scrutiny, opposition MPs have said.

As of today, the PMO has announced that the House won’t resume sitting until Nov. 22, almost two months after the election.

This is a record low of parliamentary sitting days, which has sped up under the liberals but has been in decline for decades. Parliament has sat for 76 days this year; it sat for 86 days in 2020 and 75 days in 2019. It sat for 122 days in 2018, the last full year that the Trudeau government had a majority.

“They don’t like being in Parliament. It’s like we’re bothering them,” said Bloc Québécois House Leader Allain Therrien in an interview. “In the last session, there was often only one Liberal MP in the chamber. The others were participating virtually … The legislative calendar was very light. Not much was happening. And now we see it is continuing.”

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party won a majority in 2015 with a campaign platform that made extensive promises to improve Parliament’s role as a check on the power of government. But why are the number of sitting days dropping significantly?

NDP House Leader Peter Julian said the opposition parties will continue to work together at times to order witnesses and documents from the government when required.

“These are parliamentary powers. It’s actually, I think, more unusual when we have majority governments that Parliament doesn’t exercise its powers … because the majority party tends to shut down that accountability,” he said.

“This is a minority Parliament. That’s what Canadians chose. And so parliamentarians, I think, will be using the powers that we have available to all parliamentarians in order to make sure that there’s full accountability and disclosure to Canadians.”

Conservative House Leader Gérard Deltell has also called for Parlaiment to resume ASAP.

“Canada’s Conservatives want to get to work in the House of Commons,” he said. “The Prime Minister’s vacation time is over, it’s time to get to work."

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