Elections in Ontario | Two chefs have COVID-19 and have to campaign virtually

(Toronto) Two of the leaders of Ontario’s four major political parties have been sidelined due to COVID-19 at critical times in their campaigns two weeks before Election Day.

Posted at 16:43

Allison Jones
The Canadian Press

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner tested positive on Wednesday night and New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Andrea Horwath tested positive on Thursday morning.

The four party leaders stood relatively close to each other and showed their faces during a televised election debate on Monday evening. mme Horwath said she did not know where she contracted the virus and Mr Schreiner said he tested himself on Wednesday after close contact with an employee who eventually tested positive.

Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford and Liberal leader Steven Del Duca both tested negative on Thursday.

mme Horwath and Mr. Schreiner are now campaigning virtually, but that will deprive them of the opportunity to meet voters in person at a crucial time in the race.

Mr Schreiner tried to gain momentum after a debate that garnered praise from him and Mr Schreiner.me Horwath was about to embark on a tour of the north, an important support area for his party.

“I’m really sorry this has been compromised,” said Mr.me Horwath on Zoom Thursday morning.

She hopes her schedule can be adjusted for the remaining days of the campaign to allow her to travel north, but for now she is isolating herself in a hotel room in Ottawa.

“I feel like I have a little virus, you know, headache and sore throat, but not really bad,” said Ms.me Horwath. I took Tylenol and it lowers the fever. But I’m certainly not 100%. †

mme Horwath said she would not personally resume the campaign until she tested negative for COVID-19. Current public health guidelines require him to be in self-isolation for only five days, but many people say they tested positive for 10 days or more.

Mr Schreiner remained unclear on how long he would be in isolation, saying only that he would campaign remotely for as long as necessary to ensure health and safety were a priority.

“I’m confident we can continue to campaign and build on the momentum we have,” he said on Zoom.

Susie Heath, senior consultant at public affairs firm Crestview Strategy and former Liberal aide, said both leaders would have liked to meet with potential activists and supporters. Giving up on this will be a challenge.

Chiefs can still appear in the media and deliver speeches at a distance, but they will lack personal connections, Ms.me heather.

“When they meet people in the constituency […] they’re the ones who interact with people on any topic they could approach them about, and people really watch how they respond,” she noted.

“It’s a more natural environment, I’d say. So certainly for any candidate it is a bit of an unlucky (campaign) time for that to happen. †

Melissa Bruno, former national director of the federal NDP and head of government relations at Earnscliffe Strategies, pointed out that Ms.me Horwath is adept at personal communication and it will be disappointing for her not to be able to use this line item.

“They’re going to like her very quickly and that obviously has a pretty big advantage for her and the wider party in terms of what it means to turn sympathy into votes,” she explained.

Mr Ford said he tested himself “as a precaution” on Thursday morning.

“I encourage everyone in Ontario to continue to follow protocols,” he said. (If) you have symptoms, get tested. †

Mr Del Duca said he would conduct daily tests and wished Mrme Horwath and Mr. Schreiner a speedy recovery.

“I think it’s a good reminder that while we all want to get out of this pandemic, there are still risks, and so many people here in Mississauga and all over Ontario are still struggling,” he said.

“We can’t just pretend that everything is okay, that everyone is okay.”

Meanwhile, the primaries opened on Thursday until May 28, ahead of the June 2 election.

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