Partially-vaccinated candidates can campaign in seniors’ homes if they follow rules, O’Toole says

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 Saturdau in Whitby, Ont. “That’s not only an expectation, but a commitment that all members of our team have to keep people safe.”

Ferrari posted a picture this week of her campaigning at the Princess Gardens Retirement Residence in Peterborough. Ferreri’s campaign manager Mike Skinner told that Ferreri has only received 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. 

Ferrari 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 last 60 years.

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 hasn’t had two doses of vaccine due to a medical exemption. 

“What Erin O’Toole is doing is not leadership, it’s pandering to special interests,” Trudeau said earlier this week.

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’s 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.”

Testing the political water in Canada’s most reliable bellwether riding

For 60 years, the riding of Peterborough-Kawartha has elected an MP from the party that has formed government in all but one election. CBC’s David Common paid a visit to find out what people there think about this federal election. 4:21