Tuesday, March 17, 2020

How to Parliament without infecting everybody

Given the title, some might be expecting a long, drawn out, complex and complicated post, detailing the byzantine procedures needed. That's not the case.

Instead, look at how parties, right now, present bills to the floor that all of their members agree on. Simply, they discuss it beforehand.

Normally, just their caucus will. That means a Liberal bill will see all the Liberal MPs discuss it, offer ideas, suggestions, improvements, and so forth, and finally settle on a bill that all, or at least most of them, are happy with.

I am, of course, grossly over-simplifying. That's part of what I do on the blog, give you the basics. The fact remains, however, that this same process is how you can draft a bill with multi-party support.

We've seen this in Federally already, as Parliament shut down earlier. We've seen this in provinces that have needed quick legislative action. We've seen this around the world. In short, governing parties are inviting opposition parties into those discussions before the bill is even finished. The result is that the bills presented already have all-party support. And as such, the actual floor vote becomes less important.

This brings me to Quorums. BC is looking at this. The Quorum in the House of Commons is 20. That means any time 20 MPs are in the commons, they can pass legislation. You do not need all 338 seats filled.

In fact, if you keep 1 out of every 8 MPs home, you can have the following:

19 Liberals
15 Tories
4 Blocquiests
3 Dippers
1 Green

This mirrors the current party makeup in the house, but at a 1/8th ratio. It has 42 members, more than enough to ensure 20 are on the floor in the event someone has to use the restroom. It allows for MPs to present the concerns they have and get it on the record, and it gives them plenty of physical room between one another for social distancing.

In short, we do not need to abandon either our Parliamentary System or our Social Distancing recommendations. We can do both, if, with some perhaps strange modifications.

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