OTTAWA – Promises to follow all public health guidelines on vaccines did not represent much politically for federal conservatives on Monday, as Parliament resumed with a cloud of suspicion still hanging over the party’s approach to COVID-19. .
That Conservative MP Richard Lehoux, who was fully vaccinated, was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the weekend and quickly became political ammunition for rival parties.
Liberals seized on the potential that had infected other Conservative MPs who might not have been vaccinated and, in turn, were putting everyone at risk when MPs flocked to the House of Commons for the return of parliament.
But the problem remains how many unvaccinated MPs are left.
To take their seats, all deputies had to show proof of vaccination or a medical exemption.
Late last week, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said all of her MPs were either vaccinated or had an exemption, a revelation that came after months of refusing to directly answer questions on that issue.
Then, in the wake of Lehoux’s presentation, his office also made it clear that all MPs would follow the public health guidelines they received on what to do next.
the orientation in Ottawa states that unvaccinated people declared a high-risk contact of someone with COVID-19 should be isolated for 10 days, while fully vaccinated people should monitor for symptoms and only isolate them if they appear.
No one other than Lehoux was absent due to COVID requirements, O’Toole’s office told the Star on Monday.
So the fact that no other MPs were in isolation from COVID means that there are no unvaccinated MPs or, if there are, they were not declared a high-risk contact despite being close to Lehoux during two days of meetings that the Conservatives had in Ottawa last week. .
O’Toole’s office would not say what it was.
Some MPs virtually attended that meeting, and the room conservatives use is set up to allow some measure of physical distancing.
Before Monday, the number of unvaccinated MPs had been set at a dozen and just four.
Niagara West MP Dean Allison is the only caucus member so far to have been publicly identified with an exemption, but that happened during the election campaign, and he has not discussed the issue publicly since.
Those numbers should be known, said Liberal House leader Mark Holland, because otherwise he questions the validity of the medical exemptions that have been received.
In the general population, only a handful of people actually qualify for an exemption, he said.
If the Conservatives’ numbers tip higher than that, “the math doesn’t add up.”
“It’s frustrating for me that they don’t provide that information and then say that this place should be sitting shoulder to shoulder,” he told reporters, while asking for some additional validation of the exemptions.
“That is not reasonable, it is not fair.”
Conservatives have generally declined to comment on a specific MP’s vaccination status, citing the need to protect personal medical privacy.
Three other Conservatives were absent Monday.
One, Mark Strahl, decided to stay home while traveling in BC to assist in recovery efforts from the devastating floods and landslides there.
Alberta MP Arnold Viersen said on Twitter that he was in transit to Ottawa and would take a seat Tuesday, while Saskatchewan’s Robert Kitchen did not respond to a question about his whereabouts.
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