POLITICS
09/18/2020 22:29 EDT | Updated 09/19/2020 15:03 EDT

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole Tests Positive For COVID-19

His result comes hours after Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet issued a statement that he too had tested positive.

The Canadian Press
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole waves to members of the National Caucus as he is applauded at the start of the meeting in Ottawa on Sept. 9, 2020.

OTTAWA — Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has tested positive for COVID-19.

O’Toole got the news late Friday, hours after Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet issued a statement that he too had tested positive.

Both men will now be unable to attend next week’s throne speech.

O’Toole, who has been the Opposition leader for less than four weeks, was tested in Gatineau, Que., Thursday after one of his staffers tested positive.

His wife, Rebecca, and their children Mollie and Jack, all tested negative.

The party said in a statement Wednesday that O’Toole, 47, was experiencing no symptoms.

However his spokeswoman, Melanie Paradis, later said O’Toole had started to experience a sore throat on Wednesday. His symptoms are said to be mild, and the party said he is “feeling well.”

Ontario Public Health requires an individual to isolate for at least 14 days from the day symptoms begin or they receive a positive test if they never had symptoms. Under that guidance, O’Toole would be required to stay in isolation until the end of September.

Paradis said O’Toole will discuss the situation with his doctor to determine how long he must remain in isolation.

Quebec’s public health rules say a person who tests positive but doesn’t have serious symptoms must stay isolated for 10 days. Blanchet had no symptoms as of Friday and will follow that guidance, the party said.

“He will stay in isolation at his home in Shawinigan until Sept. 26, in conformance with the instructions of Quebec public health,” the Bloc said in a statement.

“He feels perfectly well.”

Late Friday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said he will get tested for COVID-19 because he met with O’Toole earlier this week.

Legault said on Twitter that he would get tested as a precaution and isolate himself at home, adding that no one is immune.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who met with Legault, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister on Friday, said Saturday he was feeling fine and had no immediate plans to self-isolate or get tested.

Blanchet’s wife, Nancy Deziel, tested positive for the illness earlier this week, after losing her sense of smell, and Blanchet said then that he would be tested as a precaution.

The Bloc leader was already in self-isolation, along with much of his caucus and other aides, after a staff member contracted COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2020.

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