Are politicians essential?

No, I'm not asking that question in order to provoke laughter or things being hurled in anger across the room. It's because the question about maintaining Parliament in the age of the Wuhan Flu seems to be a partisan issue in Canada despite all the people in charge agreeing about that opening question. Indeed, the "essential workers" have just refused to do their jobs for the entire summer. In the middle of a crisis.

Joanna Williams tackles this in the United Kingdom context:

‘It is vital that when we are asking other people to work, and go to their places of work if they cannot do so from home, we should not be the ones who are exempt from that… it is essential that we move back to physical ways of working as quickly as possible… Parliament must set an example of how we move back gradually to a fully functioning country again. Our constituents would expect nothing less… How can we say to our schoolchildren, you’re safe going back, some of them, but we’re not? We’re going to hide away. Is that the right message to give to our constituents?’
Who is this champion of class equality? Is it Jess Phillips the self-styled gobby working-class MP for Birmingham Yardley? Or the more likeable Lisa Nandy, whose pitch for Labour leader focused on reconnecting the Labour Party with its erstwhile working-class voters? Of course not. It was the caricature of posh privilege: Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Rees-Mogg’s words were not well received. His speech was shut down by Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who then threatened to suspend parliament altogether if physical distancing rules were breached in the Commons chamber: ‘My priority, and the priority for all, I am sure, is to make sure that those on the estate are safe while business is facilitated.’
Rees-Mogg is close to the mark, but he unfortunately didn't hit it cleanly.

Neither, for even fewer reasons of politeness, did Andrew Scheer. Scheer also had to endure a poorly received push to re-open the Canadian Parliament.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signaled that the Liberal government would prefer to continue with the emergency proceedings that have been adopted for the past three weeks — two virtual sittings and one in-person sitting each week of a special COVID-19 committee, on which all MPs are members. He left the door open to additional weekly virtual sittings.

But for that to happen, the minority Liberals will need the support of at least one of the main opposition parties.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer reiterated Tuesday his party's position that more in-person sittings are necessary, along with a restoration of some of Parliament's powers.

He said the existing thrice-weekly meetings of the modified Commons and the smattering of other committees meeting virtually aren't enough. Among other things, he said the current setup doesn't allow MPs to compel the government to produce documents or to get witnesses to testify.

"This is not a partisan issue, this is about whether or not a democratic country like Canada should have a functional Parliament," Scheer said.

"If members of the Bloc, or the NDP, or the Liberal backbench don't believe that Parliament is an essential service, they should consider why they ran for office in the first place."
The Bloc has been partially receptive. However just like in jolly ol' England the "supporters of the common worker" don't seem interested in giving those workers some good bang for the buck they spend on their elected representatives.
NDP House leader Peter Julian said a return to normal parliamentary proceedings is not in the cards.

"The reality is, we can't have 338 MPs flying to Ottawa next Monday. That would not make sense," he said in an interview.

"What it does is it increases the chances that we're vectors of the virus and we're a long way from being out of the woods in terms of COVID-19."

The NDP believes it has won some major improvements to emergency aid legislation through the current proceedings and intends to keep pushing to close some of the gaps that have left some Canadians without aid, Julian said.

He wants to see the Commons transition over the next few weeks to becoming fully functional using a hybrid model, in which some MPs are in the chamber and others participate virtually. But that will first require working out how to allow MPs to vote electronically, something Julian suggested could be done by June 21.
The problem is that the Andrew Scheers and the Jacob Rees-Moggs of the world aren't looking at this the right way and aren't addressing this matter in the correct fashion. When morons like Peter Julian start spewing their nonsense you throw it back in their face. If Peter Julian isn't required in the House of Commons than he isn't required period. Fire the son of a bitch. I don't mean he resigns his seat ("considers why he ran for office" in the Scheer formulation) and New Westminster-Burnaby holds a byelection to get a new (NDP) candidate: I mean he's no longer got a seat, and New Westminster-Burnaby never again gets or apparently needs a Member of Parliament. After all, the conceit is that the risk is just too-high to let Parliamentarians go into the building...however at the same time we also entertain the conceit that being an MP is an essential service. Julian seems to think it isn't, and he's wrong.

What we need is a leader like Maxime Bernier on steroids who can turn this around on them and say this:
Parliament must be reopened immediately. All 338 Members of Parliament should be encouraged to attend in the same way that in May of 2019 we also encouraged Members to attend this House. This House of Commons is just that: the free people of Canada electing those to represent them. Parliament started in 1341 and for centuries afterwards Members of the House of Commons fought hard -- at the risk of their own lives -- to ensure that Parliament had more and more power and therefore more and more political power was held by the people themselves. We had a rocky beginning: in 1376 Sir Mare was imprisoned for making what the King thought was "non-essential" pushes for more power and respect for Parliament. Under many sovereigns Parliament was not called upon at all except to rubber stamp spending bills. This however was not sufficient for our Roundhead Parliamentary ancestors who kicked off a decade-long Civil War in 1642 that, combined with the 1688 Glorious Revolution, forever established that Parliament was the basis of our democracy.

I call on all Members to be mindful of that heritage, of the blood spilled by our forebears to preserve Parliament. Today is no different: though we do not fear that the Cavaliers loyal to the House of Trudeau will execute MPs from Corner Brook to Coquitlam, we do have to fear a chance -- minimal, but existent -- of being infected by COVID-19. However much like in 1642, the risk to the country of having nothing more than a rubber stamping Short Parliament is surely worth minimal risk of life to a mere 338 Canadians: our country lost ten times that many people to a single battle in April 1917. That single battle was itself in service of a higher cause ultimately less vital to our Dominion than a strong Parliament is in 2020. Jumping over a trench in the Great War was a lot more risky than sitting in our chamber could ever be! We should never lose sight of the undeniable fact, a fact being denied by several Honourable Ministers and their so-called scientific advisors, that being in the same room as a COVID carrier does not automatically confer infection. Furthermore, infection does not automatically confer symptoms. Symptoms meanwhile do not automatically confer hospitalization, and hospitalization does not mean a death sentence. To claim otherwise is to lie, and deceive Canadians, and that is precisely why Parliament must resume: such deceit withers in the disinfecting ultraviolet light which is the debating of our cherished democratic system.

The other Members of this House have done well personally as a result of their election into this grand chamber: they receive a salary that is the envy of all but a small proportion of Canadians with pensions and benefits to match. They are ferried across the country at the taxpayer expense, are honoured by law societies and media outlets and charitable foundations. Their names are forever blazed in the history books of our great nation, their every utterance is given a weight far greater than any of the citizens they are here to represent. Upon leaving this chamber they can move onto profitable endeavours in industry or media or elsewhere in government. Even in the wake of this global pandemic they have continued to have freedom of movement many other Canadians have had to do without. Unlike so many Canadians impacted by government policies they continue to draw their salary even as their workload diminishes. It is now time to give back to the people of Canada who elected them.

Parliament is more important than mere parliamentarians. If Members of Parliament from the Prime Minister to the newest backbencher to the Speaker are to be considered 'essential' to the operations of Canada in the same manner as nurses or grocery clerks, then we must be willing to perform to the same standard. Every caregiver who walks into a hospital may get infected and die: but we all understand that risk has to be taken because otherwise this essential service so vital to Canadian life will not be performed. Every employee at your local grocery chain or convenience store is at a risk of contracting this illness: we don't make ludicrous claims that the customer coming in to buy the food they need to survive "killed them" and justify shutting everything down. We can take reasonable precautions but at the end of the day my message to every Member of Parliament is that your job is essential. For years we have used vehicles with wheels and wings to travel around understanding that the risk was worth the reward, this is more public a risk and a more possible outcome, but it remains true that the calling of our higher mission supercedes any selfish interest in our own personal safety and comfort.

Parliament is by far the most important institution in Canada: in this critical time in our history facing the worst economic collapse since the time Queen Victoria signed the British North America Act, we must meet. We must have the opportunity to debate and deliberate the unhitherto expenditures of money from the public purse. We must be able to, in full view of the public we serve, question and challenge the claims made by unelected advisors to the Minority Government. Canadians deserve a full and frank accounting of what the Government of Canada will be doing, what goals we are aiming to accomplish, when and how we will know if we have succeeded or failed at them, and what information we know for certain and which information we are merely guessing or modelling. Perhaps even more importantly Canadians deserve to know that the decisions that are being made, many of which have larger or longer reaching impacts than any ever before made by the Federal Government, are not being made by a tiny cabal answerable only to a small number of the Members of this House who serve extremely narrow regional and ideological masters and instead are being made by a majority of Parliament who represent every person region and belief system within our shores.

It is wholly wicked and undemocratic to have Canada be led from the front porch of a building the vast majority of Canadians would be arrested for trying to visit, by a man who less than eight months ago failed to obtain the confidence of this House. We are not a technocracy where unelected experts of narrow fringe research are directed to set public policy, nor are we to be governed by snapshot polling without a true public realm free from the manipulations of Big Tech and Big Government in a distorted marketplace of ideas. King Charles' policies were generally popular as well, but that didn't make his eleven years of tyranny any less dangerous, and we have no wish to have to fight the 9 year bloody real world war that resulted. This destructive course of action could easily tear the country apart.

Throughout history Parliament has been a place of meeting: the concept of people forming together is the perfect distillation of our democratic system. If we do not have regular in-person meetings of the Commoners' Representatives than we are no longer a country nor do we deserve to be. The price to save the nation is a statistical blip on the ever-present possibility that any of us at any time for any reason be taken away from this earth. Anyone who has been chosen to pay this bargain of a price and still rejects the bill is free to abandon this duty forever: but they should be forevermore banished from this House and the sacred mission it has to play in the days ahead.