Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday September 14, 2021
On Vaccination and Abortion, Contrasting Conservative Leadership
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says it’s OK for candidates who aren’t fully vaccinated to campaign in seniors’ residences and retirement homes as long as they follow other public health measures.
One of his candidates — Michelle Ferreri in Peterborough–Kawartha — posted photos of herself on Twitter campaigning in a retirement home despite not yet being fully vaccinated.
“We will be following all measures, including vaccines, daily rapid testing, masking and social distancing to keep people safe,” O’Toole said during a campaign stop on Saturday in Whitby, Ont. “That’s not only an expectation, but a commitment that all members of our team have to keep people safe.”
Ferreri posted a picture this week of her campaigning at the Princess Gardens Retirement Residence in Peterborough, Ont. Ferreri’s campaign manager, Mike Skinner, told MyKawartha.com that Ferreri has received only one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine but is taking a daily rapid test.
The Liberals say only one of their candidates — because of a medical exemption — hasn’t had two doses of vaccine.
The Conservative campaign has also cited Trudeau’s campaign appearance last weekend at a Toronto hospital, where the Liberal leader met with health-care workers in apparent violation of the hospital’s own rules. The Liberal campaign told CBC news that the hospital made an exception for the leader, and noted that Trudeau — who is fully vaccinated — didn’t visit any wards.
O’Toole has promised to get the national vaccination rate up to 90 per cent while rejecting the idea of vaccine mandates because he believes vaccines are a personal choice. He has also refused to say how many of his candidates are fully vaccinated.
The Conservative leader repeated his criticism of Trudeau for calling an election while the country contends with a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases.
“No party wanted him to call this election,” O’Toole said. “We had a vote in Parliament to not have an election during the pandemic. Mr. Trudeau ignored that because he will always put his own interests first.” (CBC)
Earlier in the campaign, O’Toole clearly stated his position on abortion
“Hi. I’m not Andrew Scheer.”
That was essentially how Erin O’Toole tried to introduce himself to Quebeckers in a speech Wednesday night. Subtlety is not a virtue in politics, so while Mr. O’Toole did not mention his predecessor by name, he did everything but pull out a picture of Mr. Scheer with a big red X over his face.
Mr. O’Toole, in Quebec City for his first big pitch to the province, said he realized that Quebeckers have hesitated to put their faith in the Tories in the past because the party was unclear on social issues. Then he said he was pro-choice. And that he had always been pro-choice. “Period.” Oh, and one more thing: “I also believe in climate change.”
It requires no political genius to see why he distanced himself from Mr. Scheer. In the 2019 election campaign, the Tories were doing fine in Quebec until the first French-language leaders debate, when Mr. Scheer fumbled questions over his personal anti-abortion views. The Conservatives collapsed in the province, and the Bloc Québécois emerged as the main opposition to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
So Mr. O’Toole, still relatively unknown, is leading off his Quebec campaign with two main planks: (A) He’s not Justin Trudeau and (B) he’s not Andrew Scheer. As political strategies go, it’s not a bad start.
But this is a Canadian federal election in the 21st century, and he was talking about abortion. The Liberals were waiting.
“Tonight in Quebec, Erin O’Toole pretended to be pro-choice,” Liberal candidate and cabinet minister Maryam Monsef tweeted in a multipart thread she posted in both official languages. “He did the same thing in his platform. But in reality, he’ll let his team bring forward legislation to restrict abortion access. That’s the same position as Andrew Scheer.”
To recap: Erin O’Toole says he is not Andrew Scheer, and the Liberals say he is. (The Globe & Mail)