POLITICS
09/22/2020 13:06 EDT | Updated 09/22/2020 13:16 EDT

Rebecca O’Toole, Wife Of Tory Leader Erin O’Toole, Tests Positive For COVID-19

Erin O’Toole announced Friday that he also tested positive.

Justin Tang/CP
Erin O'Toole walks with his wife Rebecca, second right, daughter Mollie and son Jack, right, after being announced as the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada in Ottawa, on Aug. 24, 2020.

Rebecca O’Toole, the wife of Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, has also tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement from the Conservative Party, Rebecca O’Toole — who tested negative for the virus last week — was assessed again Sunday evening in Ottawa after exhibiting symptoms, such as a fever. The results came back positive late Monday night.

“Many Canadian families are grappling with COVID-19 like us today, and just like them, our focus is on ensuring our children stay healthy,” she said in a statement. “I want to thank the incredible frontline healthcare workers across the country, but especially those at Brewer Park Arena (an assessment centre in Ottawa) who are so kind and patient while working tirelessly to help thousands of Canadians.”

Watch: O’Toole asks Canadians to take another look at his party

 

In the release, Rebecca O’Toole also noted it’s arthritis awareness month and that she is one of the one in five Canadians who are affected by the disorder.

“People with autoimmune diseases like inflammatory arthritis need to take extra precautions as we enter the second wave of COVID-19. Talk to your doctor and stay safe and healthy,” she said.

The O’Tooles will continue isolating at home with watching for symptoms in their two children — Mollie, 14, and Jack, 9.

Erin O’Toole revealed late Friday that he tested positive for COVID-19, hours after Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet announced he had also tested positive.

The Conservative leader was already in isolation after a staffer with whom he had been travelling tested positive for COVID-19. Blanchet and his 31 Bloc MPs went into isolation as a precautionary measure last week after a staffer tested positive days after an in-person caucus meeting.

The developments mean that neither O’Toole nor Blanchet — the leaders of the Official Opposition and third party in the House of Commons, respectively — will be in attendance for Wednesday’s much anticipated throne speech and the return of Parliament.

 

Blanchet plans to stay at his home in Shawinigan until Sept. 26. His wife has likewise tested positive for COVID-19.

O’Toole’s spokesperson, Melanie Paradis, told The Canadian Press Friday that he will discuss with his doctor how long he ought to remain in isolation, but Ontario Public Health guidance would see him on the sidelines until the end of September. 

Paradis said Friday O’Toole is “feeling well” with mild symptoms, including a sore throat.

Erin O’Toole leveraged his family’s frustrating experience with testing in Ottawa last week into a political attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Tory leader released a statement Thursday saying his family was “turned away” from an assessment centre in the Ottawa Public Health Unit that had reached capacity, after waiting in line for hours. The family was instead tested at a facility in nearby Gatineau, Que., where the House of Commons makes testing available for MPs and their families.

Adrian Wyld/CP
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole walks in Ottawa with staffers on Sept. 9, 2020.

Though testing is a provincial responsibility, Erin O’Toole blasted Trudeau for his government not yet approving other 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 last week that Health Canada is reviewing rapid testing devices but will not make approvals until it is confident results will be accurate. 

The NDP, meanwhile, is urging its MPs not to use the private clinic option available to MPs and their families. “I don’t support two levels of service. I think all Canadians deserve to have their health taken seriously, especially during a pandemic,” NDP MP Rachel Blaney told The Globe and Mail.

Trudeau sends best wishes to O’Toole family

Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, was among the first Canadian public figures to test positive for COVID-19 in March, after returning from the U.K. with flu-like symptoms and a low fever. The prime minister isolated at home for 14 days, and his wife made a full recovery weeks later.

Trudeau tweeted best wishes to his chief political rival Thursday, saying that he and Sophie wished the O’Tooles a speedy recovery.

With previous files, a file from The Canadian Press

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