The COVID-19 pandemic forced many legislatures around the world to adopt or expand their use of digital technologies in order to continue exercising their core functions of legislating, studying issues of public policy, scrutinizing governments and representing constituents. In the face of physical distancing requirements and lockdowns, the Parliament of Canada introduced information and communication technology (ICT) – such as Zoom and, in the House of Commons, a new e-voting app – to expand its capacity to hold remote and hybrid chamber and committee meetings. Senators and members of Parliament had to adapt quickly to participating in Parliament remotely and to engaging with each other, and with citizens and stakeholders, in an increasingly digital environment.
This HillStudy examines the experiences of Canadian senators, members of Parliament, and parliamentary staff with digital parliament during the pandemic. It places this experience in wider context of that of parliamentarians and parliamentary staff in other countries and jurisdictions – especially those that adapted ICT to fit similar Westminster traditions and procedures in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, among others. It also highlights recent research by academics, the Samara Centre and the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the possible effects of digital parliaments on core parliamentary functions.
Read the full text of the HillStudy: Digital Parliament: Canada in Context
By Martin McCallum, Library of Parliament