Erin O’Toole gets derailed by more vaccination controversies within his own party
The Conservative leader had planned to slam the possibility of a ‘radical’ Liberal-NDP governing agreement
OTTAWA — Conservative leader Erin O’Toole held a news conference Monday to slam the possibility of a “radical” Liberal-NDP governing agreement, saying it would run up billions in irresponsible new spending and crater Canada’s energy sector.
But O’Toole then had to spend his time chastising Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu for putting out “confusing” information about COVID-19, and deflecting questions about how many MPs in his caucus remain unvaccinated.
It marked yet another day where the party’s internal disputes over how to handle vaccine mandates have thrown the Conservatives off their preferred message of attacking the Liberals.
O’Toole, speaking on Parliament Hill, began by highlighting reports the Liberals are considering an agreement with the NDP to keep their minority government in power for up to three years. O’Toole referred to it as a “radical Liberal-NDP coalition,” though it’s not clear yet what type of arrangement the parties might reach, if any.
“This coalition will create billions in new spending that will further drive up inflation even more,” O’Toole said. “And this coalition will mean that Jagmeet Singh will be able to push an even more radical agenda that will threaten the livelihoods of millions of Canadians…A Liberal-NDP coalition would shut down Canadian energy and resource sectors, eliminating thousands of jobs, dividing the country and making Canada a poorer and less relevant nation.”
He also argued the NDP would help Prime Minister Justin Trudeau escape consequences for any further scandals.
“Conservatives from across Canada will not stand by while the Liberal-NDP coalition threatens our prosperity and unity as a country,” he said. “We are the only voice that will fight tirelessly for Canadians. We’re the only voice that will work to rebuild our economy and fight inflation. And we are the only party that will seek to unite Canadians rather than continue the politics of division.”
But once he began taking questions, O’Toole had to address a CTV interview with Gladu that aired Sunday where she appeared to downplay the severity of COVID-19.
Gladu has been in the spotlight recently for spearheading a caucus group that will focus on civil liberties issues such as vaccine mandates. In the CTV interview, Gladu was asked whether she has a problem with mandatory polio vaccines as well.
“People that got polio, many of them died and many of them were crippled, and that is not the same frequency of risk that we see with COVID-19,” Gladu said, going on to say she wants to see reasonable accommodations given to people who decline COVID-19 vaccination.
“You’re saying that COVID is not as bad as polio?” CTV host Evan Solomon pushed back. “COVID has killed significantly more people in a shorter time than polio did in Canada.”
(The polio epidemic played out over three decades; in its worst year of 1953, it caused 9,000 cases and 500 deaths nationally. Since March 2020, COVID-19 has killed nearly 30,000 Canadians.)
“I’m just receiving the information from medical experts that talk about the relative risk, I’m not a doctor myself,” Gladu responded. She then challenged Solomon’s claim that the data shows vaccine mandates work when it comes to combatting the spread of COVID-19.