Conservative Leader O'Toole, family getting tested for COVID-19

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and his family are in isolation and will be getting tested for COVID-19 after a member of his staff tested positive.

According to a statement from the party, the staffer was recently travelling with O’Toole.

“While he hasn’t shown symptoms, Mr. O’Toole and his family are being tested out of an abundance of caution. Other staff who were travelling with Mr. O’Toole are also being tested and will be self-isolating,” the statement said.

O’Toole’s office is also contacting everyone who the new Tory leader has recently met, which includes Quebec Premier Francois Legault, with whom he had an in-person meeting on Monday. Legault has said that after talking to Quebec public health officials who advised that because O’Toole was not symptomatic and Legault is a contact of a contact, he has decided not to isolate. He will be monitoring for symptoms.

“My family and I are feeling well, but we take COVID-19 very seriously. Today was going to be Jack’s first day back at school, but instead we will be getting tested and self-isolating per public health guidelines. The health and safety of my family and all Canadians is my top priority,” O’Toole said in a statement. 

This comes after Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet entered self-isolation with plans to get tested after his wife was confirmed positive for COVID-19. The entire Bloc caucus went into quarantine this week after a staffer in Blanchet’s office contracted the virus.

When the news about the Bloc leader broke, O’Toole tweeted that he was wishing Blanchet's wife a speedy recovery and that he hoped the Bloc leader could resume his regular duties soon. 

The new session of Parliament is set to get underway next Wednesday with a new throne speech. Discussions are ongoing among the government and the opposition parties as to how the new House of Commons sitting will run. Within days, an agreement is going to need to be made about whether the hybrid virtual and in-person structure will continue as well as determining if a new way of remote voting can be established.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government will pursue a form of remote voting, given the situations the two biggest opposition parties in the House of Commons have found themselves in. 

Speaking about the staffers testing positive and the return of Parliament, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that COVID-19 is a “problem that’s going to be with us for a while” and that MPs travelling to Ottawa and meeting with people is a “very real concern.”

“The nature of our work means that we come into contact with people that may be in contact with other people. We travel frequently for work,” she said. “It presents risk to our communities as well when we travel, so we have to manage that all very carefully.

Early on in the pandemic, Trudeau’s wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau contracted COVID-19, which saw Trudeau enter self-isolation with his family. She has since recovered and the prime minister said he did not exhibit any symptoms of the virus that has spread across the world and killed more than 9,000 Canadians.