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Government Senate rep proposes less partisan review of pandemic response

Last Updated Oct 27, 2020 at 5:14 pm MST

The Senate of Canada building and Senate Chamber are pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is tapping Sen. Marc Gold, a constitutional law expert and former chair of the Jewish Federations of Canada, to serve as the Liberal government's representative in the upper chamber. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The government representative in the Senate is proposing the upper chamber carry out a comprehensive review of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to leaders of the various Senate groups, Sen. Marc Gold argues that the past few weeks have demonstrated the need for a “a less partisan and more dispassionate forum” to oversee the government’s response to the health crisis.

Gold’s letter follows a partisan fight in the House of Commons over a motion authorizing the Commons health committee to launch a sweeping probe of the government’s COVID-19 response.

That motion, passed by opposition parties, orders the government to turn over massive amounts of documents on a raft of issues related to the pandemic, including the procurement of personal protective equipment and potential vaccine candidates.

The Liberal government has warned that the motion will tie up public servants and potentially scare off suppliers of desperately needed equipment and vaccines who fear the public disclosure of sensitive, proprietary information.

The Senate has also voted to begin conducting hybrid sittings — with most senators participating virtually — as early as next week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

The Canadian Press