O'Toole won't stop partially-vaccinated candidates from campaigning in seniors' homes if they follow rules

·3 min read
Michelle Ferreri, the Conservative candidate for Peterborough–Kawartha, posted a photo on Twitter of her campaigning with seniors at the Princess Gardens Retirement Residence. Her campaign said Ferreri has received only one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine but is taking a daily rapid test.  (Michelle Ferreri/Twitter - image credit)
Michelle Ferreri, the Conservative candidate for Peterborough–Kawartha, posted a photo on Twitter of her campaigning with seniors at the Princess Gardens Retirement Residence. Her campaign said Ferreri has received only one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine but is taking a daily rapid test. (Michelle Ferreri/Twitter - image credit)

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.

Skinner initially said Ferreri couldn't afford to take time off the campaign trail if the second shot produced side effects and would "get her next shot as soon as the election is over." But after CBC News asked O'Toole about Ferreri on Saturday, the campaign said she would be getting her second shot later that day.

WATCH: O'Toole pressed on partially-vaccinated candidate campaigning in seniors' home

Ferreri is running against Liberal candidate and member of Trudeau's cabinet Maryam Monsef in Peterborough–Kawartha — a bellwether riding that has elected an MP from the party that has formed government in all but one election over the past 60 years.

Ferreri responded to a local news website's questionnaire on Aug. 23 asking all candidates whether they were vaccinated against COVID-19. She called the question "extremely divisive" and "a major contributor to the polarization we are experiencing in Canada." She then added: "I am vaccinated."

In a statement Saturday, a Liberal campaign spokesperson said that Ferreri had "misled" her community and that it was "dangerous and irresponsible of Mr. O'Toole to let his unvaccinated candidates campaign in long-term-care facilities."

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has accused O'Toole of pandering to a "far-right, anti-vaxx fringe" by not requiring his candidates to be fully vaccinated and rejecting the idea of vaccine mandates.

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."

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