“If the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t hit,” said Drouin during a Thursday (August 20) phone interview, “I would have said it was a bad move.”
The Liberal MP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell noted that the pandemic has made a mess of all the government’s original plans for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The federal focus had to shift to figuring out how to maintain existing government services while devising immediate pandemic action plans to provide emergency income assistance to Canadian citizens left jobless, support the business sector and reduce the risk of a national depression, and also help provinces maintain public health systems, including finding supplies of personal protection gear for frontline workers and supporting COVID-19 vaccine research.
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell is a rural riding in Eastern Ontario and Drouin quoted an expression he heard often from his farming constituents during the past months to describe how the pandemic situation has affected federal government priorities.
“It’s hard to focus on something else in the barn,” he said, “when the cow’s stepping on your foot.”
Proroguing Parliament also means all existing government advisory committees are abolished. Parliament resumes sitting September 23 with presentation of a Throne Speech to introduce the new session.
Drouin noted that proroguing gives the government time to reassess and develop a new plan to continue dealing with the pandemic crisis, including a priority focus on economic recovery. He expects that will be the main focus of the Throne Speech, along with proposals for other issues that got pushed aside during the past few months while Parliament was in pandemic mode.
The MP also confirmed that all parliamentary committees are then revived and he dismissed Opposition allegations that proroguing Parliament is the prime minister’s attempt to stop the WE Charity inquiry. Drouin noted that the finance, ethics, and the government and operations committees will all reform in September, with Opposition MPs holding still the majority of seats on those committees. He observed that the WE investigation can continue if the committees wish it.
“It (proroguing) does not kill a committee’s power to bring back any issue it wants,” Drouin said. “I suspect it (WE inquiry) will be back somewhere.”