Conservative leader Erin O’Toole returned Pierre Poilievre to his old job as a financial critic, but left former leadership rival Leslyn Lewis out of the Opposition front bench when he unveiled the names of those who will serve in his cabinet in the shadow when Parliament returns.
O’Toole chose his party’s critics at a time when he is dealing with some members of his group who express what he characterizes as confusing and unhelpful messages about COVID-19 vaccination.
Explaining his choices for the team, the leader stressed that those selected “will be ready to address questions about vaccines.”
Among those who have been criticized by O’Toole is Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu, who was not invited to remain as a critic and apologized Tuesday for remarks she made during an interview with CTV’s “Question Period.”
In the interview that aired on Sunday, he compared COVID-19 to polio when it spread in the early 20th century, but stated that the new coronavirus does not present the same “frequency of risk” in terms of deaths or disabilities.
“Upon reflection, I recognize how dangerous it is to share misinformation about the severity of COVID-19 and the safety and efficacy of vaccines. I fully retract these comments,” Gladu said in a statement Tuesday.
“I unreservedly apologize to Canadians. I also apologize to my caucus colleagues and the leader for the distraction my comments have created.”
Gladu spoke late last week about plans she and 15-30 conservative deputies and senators have to organize a “mini-caucus” within the current conservative to defend those facing consequences for not adhering to vaccine mandates. .
Lewis was another Ontario representative who drew attention with social media posts about COVID-19, particularly one several weeks ago in which she questioned the effectiveness of vaccinating children.
He also finds himself without a critical role despite a strong showing during last year’s campaign to run for party leader against O’Toole, garnering much support from the party’s western base and the conservative social wing.
O’Toole reveals his shadow cabinet, not including former leadership rival Leslyn Lewis. #CPC #CDNPoli
On Tuesday, he congratulated his colleagues who were welcomed in critical roles and said he looked forward to working with them “as we advocate for a better, stronger and more united Canada.”
Other names missing from O’Toole’s list include BC MP Mark Strahl, who has said that since the election conservatives must make it clear that they still oppose vaccine mandates, and Rosemarie Falk, a Saskatchewan MP. who made headlines during the race for saying that the party opposed the test. -vaccination documents for international travel, despite O’Toole indicating otherwise.
The official shadow cabinet of the Opposition is tasked with holding government ministers to account and is the closest the Opposition leader has to naming an inner circle.
Tuesday’s list saw Poilievre return to his previous role as the party’s financial critic, where he made a name for himself and garnered a popular following among conservative supporters.
The decision to move him comes after a few scratches to his head that happened last February, after he was transferred to a role as an jobs and industry critic and replaced by Ed Fast.
O’Toole explained the change Tuesday by highlighting how conservatives are focused on fighting inflation, and that Poilievre has been the “only voice” in Ottawa to spend the past year raising concerns about his risks to the cost of living for Canadians.
“Pierre is one of our strongest communicators. He is tough in the House. I see liberals tremble when he stands up.”
Quick Steps from Finance to Science, Innovation and Industry Critique. Noted Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner also turns from health to natural resources.
That comes on the back of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the country’s oil and gas sector in an effort to intensify Canada’s fight against climate change, raising concerns from governments. Alberta and Saskatchewan leaders on the cost it will charge. jobs and the economic future of the industry.
“Canada’s natural resources sector is often exploited politically to produce hollow victories as opposed to significant outcomes on climate, social inclusion or economic opportunity,” Rempel Garner said in a statement.
“Liberals must be made to recognize that choosing this path hurts our country.”
O’Toole decided to keep Conservative Manitoba MP Candice Bergen as deputy leader, and former leader Andrew Scheer as infrastructure critic, while adding some new MPs from Ontario, including Melissa Lantsman on transportation and Michelle Ferreri on tourism.
This Canadian Press report was first published on November 9, 2021.