Virtual desktop session of the national Assembly: a historic first in Quebec city

Séance virtuelle de l’Assemblée nationale: une première historique à Québec

Ministers and members of parliament from the opposition troqueront the solemn blue Room for a videoconference Friday, then that will be held the first sessions in virtual history of the national Assembly.

Rather than a period of questions online, the political parties represented in Québec city have agreed to hold four sessions on the platform Teams (a total of six hours) which will take the form of parliamentary committees.

At 15h, the minister of the Economy Pierre Fitzgibbon will introduce the new forum. For the members of the opposition, this will be the first opportunity to question a member of the government since the outbreak of COVID-19 has forced the suspension of the work of the assembly, the 17 of march last.

According to Mr. Fitzgibbon, the minister of Labour, Jean Boulet, will respond in turn to questions of his critics parliament.


For the parliamentary leader of the Parti québécois, Martin Ouellet, these four sessions will continue next week are a “compromise”, since the prime minister showed himself to be “refractory” to resume the parliamentary debates.

“I think I don’t need to explain that Danielle McCann has less time to give to be able to do that in the next few weeks,” illustrated by François Legault last week, about his minister of Health.

In return, the opposition parties have agreed to provide the government with the issues that will be addressed. The ministers will avoid having to surround himself with an army of officials who could provide them answers on-the-field, as is the case in the study of credits.

Find the right tone

“The goal is not to be partisan, but to get answers to lots of questions, understand their intentions,” says Martin Ouellet. For example, several programs have been put in place, but there are companies that didn’t touch anything because they fall in the cracks.”

The spokesman of the liberal economy also felt that the tone will be more “positive” in this time of health crisis. “We will have to find the right balance,” explained Dominique Anglade.

It stresses that the government must in particular explain how it envisions the economic recovery, while prime minister Legault has announced major changes in the coming months. “If there is a before and an after, which must be different, I expect that the vision and the actions that will be posed are also different,” said Ms. Anglade.

Live… from the house

The four sessions on the schedule will begin with a video introductory of the president of the national Assembly, François Paradis. Then, only the president of the parliamentary commission will be on site, in Quebec city, while members of the opposition will participate by videoconference.

But don’t expect to be able to spy on the homes of the elect: the back-up plans will be replaced by images of the national Assembly. Meps will also have an additional challenge, then they will need to time their own speaking time, under penalty of cut the micro.

“It’s like a pilot project that will allow us to see how we are capable of advancing the cause of democracy in a context of virtual”, said Dominique Anglade.

If the liberal mp should be made to the minister from his home, Martin Ouellet, he will opt for the constituency office. “Like that, I will not have my dog or my children that may be behind during a procedure”, he said with a chuckle.

Attention at the open mic

And small advice to the elected officials that have the potential for the exercise: pay attention to your words, even when you think you have closed your micro.

The Country of Wales, one of the first legislatures to have adopted the sessions virtual, the minister of Health, Vaughan Gething, has learned the hard way on Wednesday. “This is what its tab* problem?”, he launched about a colleague from the same party, while he believed that it was inaudible.

Among the twenty participants, several elected officials have had difficulty to hold back a giggle. Mr Gething, him, had to call the mp in question to apologize.

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