Three reasons to like Canada’s exercise in ‘virtual’ sittings of Parliament

Three reasons to like Canada’s exercise in ‘virtual’ sittings of Parliament

By Shachi Kurl, Executive Director

Now that virtual sittings of Parliament have completed their third week, perhaps it’s time to talk about something other than the novelty factor.

Not that it hasn’t been entertaining to learn which cabinet minister couldn’t figure out his or her mute button, or who had the best bookcases. But the breathless tenor of reportage in the style of “political celebrities, they’re just like us!” has obscured a more substantive discussion about why moving the business of governing Canada’s people online carries with it long-term implications for democracy that are beneficial.

That the internet is the world’s greatest equalizer is a cliché. It is, however, also true. Absent the grand backdrop, the lights, the acoustics and the thunder of desk-banging in the Commons chamber, Question Period, a showdown former prime minister John Turner famously referred to as “Bullshit Theatre,” now finds itself mostly stripped of said bullshit. No better time, then, to refocus attention and coverage on the subjects raised and debated.

First, the drama of the show, when it is held in person, is usually brought to us through what sometimes feels like the relatively narrow lens of the designated theatre critics: Parliament Hill-based reporters, who understand the ins and outs of politics, most of whom are very fine people, but many of whom have not worked recently or for any substantial length of time outside Ontario.

Little wonder that Angus Reid Institute polling shows only Ontarians, on balance, believe they are well-represented by Parliament, while those most likely to say the opposite live farthest from Centre Block’s postal code, in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

For the rest of this piece, please view it on the Ottawa Citizen’s site where it was initially published.