Members of Parliament in Canada go through a trial by fire when they first enter the House of Commons. After an exhausting election period, new MPs must quickly come to grips with House of Commons procedures, hire staff and set up their constituency offices.
Rookie MPs who will soon enter the 44th Parliament are facing unique obstacles in addition to these existing challenges.
These hurdles include a lack of social contact with senior MPs if the House continues with hybrid sittings that limit in-person attendance, increased constituency service demands and a heightened climate of hostility towards politicians.
COVID-19 prevention measures will still be necessary when Parliament resumes in November. Even though the House has imposed a vaccine mandate on MPs, high COVID-19 case counts in some parts of Canada mean it’s likely that hybrid sittings will continue.
New MPs who participate virtually in the 44th Parliament will not benefit from receiving in-person advice from their senior colleagues. Rookie MPs don’t typically enter the House as “ready-made” representatives and must undergo a period of orientation to learn their constituency and scrutiny roles.
New MPs need advice from experienced peers
The Canadian House of Commons provides new members with a two-day orientation program that focuses on administration (for example, the rules surrounding budgets and setting up constituency offices) and procedure in the House. The orientation program for new members in the 44th Parliament was held in late September 2021.
Through my preliminary research on the orientation of new MPs, I have found that MPs are more likely to learn their role through advice from experienced members, party staff and on-the-job learning rather than the House orientation session.