Canada's first-ever virtual Parliament: Minister of Health Patty Hajdu's unmuted mic is the epitome of 2020 work-from-home culture


As virtual Parliament got underway for the first time in Canadian history, for the millionth time in work-from-home history, a colleague forgot to unmute their mic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended almost everyone’s daily work life — and elected officials are no different.

On Tuesday, Canada’s Parliament had its historic first-ever virtual session with members from across the country signing in from their home offices or constituencies. And has become customary when Zooming, Skyping, FaceTiming or whatever other video-chat tool you use, some technical difficulties were expected. Inevitable even.

But few could have predicted that it would happen right off the bat.

As Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota opened the session and introduced Minster of Health Patty Hajdu, Hajdu was nowhere to be seen — nor heard.

“The Honourable Minister of Health? Miss Hajdu” Rota asks. After a few seconds of very familiar silence, Rota recognizes what happened: “Please unclick your mute,” he urges Hajdu.

The ordeal lasted about 20 seconds until a smiling Hajdu appeared on screen and exclaimed, “Oh, got it!”

“After that somewhat ineloquent beginning,” she continues.

Who has telecommuted in 2020 and not experienced that at least once since the pandemic forced many Canadians to work from home?

After disagreements between Canada’s parties, Parliament agreed to meet three times a week: once in person and twice virtually. Tuesday’s session was the country’s first ever and gave Canadians a glimpse inside parliamentarians’ homes and home offices, from “boring” art to pristine kitchens.