Parliamentary digital releases in the time of COVID-19.

AuthorDavies, Emma
PositionSketches of Parliaments and Parliamentarians

When public health measures made in-person meetings and events difficult, parliaments across Canada began to experiment with new digital apps and programs and promoted existing digital services to help both parliamentarians and the public access information, and connect. In this article, the author highlights some of these new releases.


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian parliaments have greatly increased their use of platforms such as Zoom, Skype for Business, Cisco WebEx, and Microsoft Teams. Indeed, meetings of the House and committees across the country now rely on these resources to discuss the very issue necessitating their use. However, Parliaments have not only been making use of pre-existing digital platforms; they have also been working on releasing their own digital tools.

In Ottawa, the federal parliament is currently testing an electronic voting app. This House of Commons digital product allows MPs to cast votes without being present in the Chamber, and operates

"using combined facial and fingerprint recognition technology". (1) While more testing is required, the app is a first for the Canadian Parliament and would represent a major shift in daily operations should it be approved. Over the course of the pandemic, the Library of Parliament and the National Film Board of Canada also released a virtual reality tour experience of the Centre Block on platforms like Steam, Oculus, YouTube, and Facebook. (2) Despite the Centre Block's lengthy rehabilitation project and associated closures, the public is still able to interact with the building thanks to this technology.

Virtual options for tours and educational activities have also been a priority for provincial parliaments during the pandemic, as many of them have used social media and video communications platforms to continue facilitating their public outreach programs. In British Columbia, the Legislature has created a Virtual Classroom program designed for students in grades three to 12. (3) Similarly, Quebec's National Assembly uses Facebook to livestream Les tetes a Papineau, a quiz night for members of the public looking for fun, educational activities. (4) The Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories has taken this kind of outreach work a step further by commissioning a self-guided touring app. The app would enable the public to experience the Parliament virtually in thirteen different languages, and could mark the beginning of further digital...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT