POLITICS
09/18/2020 12:45 EDT | Updated 09/19/2020 10:55 EDT

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Bloc leader and his 31 MPs were already in isolation as a precaution after a staff member tested positive Monday.

Adrian Wyld/CP
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet delivers his opening remarks during a news conference in Ottawa on Aug. 12, 2020.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has tested positive for COVID-19.

 Blanchet plans to isolate at his home in Shawinigan until Sept. 26 but feels “perfectly fine,” according to a statement from the party Friday.

Quebec’s public health rules say a person who tests positive but doesn’t have serious symptoms must stay isolated for 10 days.

The Bloc leader and the 31 MPs in his caucus were already in isolation as a precaution after a staff member tested positive Monday, less than a week after an in-person caucus meeting. Blanchet’s wife, Nancy Deziel, announced Tuesday that she, too, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Watch: Bloc leader calls for Trudeau to resign

 

In the statement, Blanchet stressed the importance of keeping up physical distancing measures, wearing masks, and washing one’s hands to slow the spread of the virus.

The revelation means Blanchet, leader of the third party in the House of Commons, will not be physically present for next week’s throne speech and the return of Parliament. The government’s much-anticipated speech from the throne will be delivered Sept. 23.

Blanchet tweeted that he and his wife are doing well, and that he plans to catch up chores around the house next week.

Last month, Blanchet made headlines when he said he would move a motion of non-confidence and try to trigger a fall election if he did not see resignations from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his chief of staff, and his then-finance minister Bill Morneau, mostly over the WE Charity controversy. Morneau stepped down less than a week after Blanchet’s public ultimatum.

Blanchet suggested at the time that he wasn’t concerned about optics and safety issues involved in potentially forcing another campaign during the pandemic.

“Which is more dangerous? A mismanagement of a crisis or taking the time to change the people who are managing the crisis?” he said. 

O’Toole also tested, in isolation

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also went into isolation with his family Wednesday after a staffer with whom he had recently travelled tested positive for the virus.

UPDATE - Sept. 18, 2020: Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has announced that he has also tested positive for COVID-19. O’Toole’s wife and two children tested negative.

“My family and I are feeling well, but we take COVID-19 very seriously,” O’Toole said in a statement, adding the “health and safety of my family and all Canadians is my top priority.”

O’Toole said Thursday that he was tested in Gatineau, Que., after being “turned away” from an assessment centre in the Ottawa Public Health Unit a day earlier because the centre had reached capacity. He said his family had waited in line for hours.

Though provinces are responsible for testing, the experience spurred O’Toole to blast Liberals for not having approved rapid testing methods being used in other countries, including the United States. 

“I stand with the thousands of Canadian families who are waiting in lines today for tests. It has been seven months, Justin Trudeau must answer for why we do not have access to more of the tests our allies are using,” he said.

 

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said this week that while Health Canada is reviewing rapid testing devices, it won’t approve any of them until it is confident results will be accurate. 

“We have not had a test submitted to Health Canada for approval yet that satisfies the regulator’s concerns around accuracy,” she said.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 in March after returning from the U.K. with a low fever and flu-like symptoms. Her diagnosis prompted Trudeau to isolate at home for 14 days.

Grégoire Trudeau made a full recovery weeks later. 

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love,” she said in a statement at the time.

“I strongly believe that science AND compassion will get us through this crisis.”

With a file from The Canadian Press

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