No new cases of COVID-19 in Conservative caucus after vaccinated MP falls ill

OTTAWA — No new cases of COVID-19 have emerged within the federal Conservative caucus since one of its members was diagnosed with the virus last week.

Ottawa public health regulations say high-risk contacts of a person with COVID-19 should be tested at least seven days after the exposure. Quebec MP Richard Lehoux last met with his colleagues a week ago for a two-day caucus retreat.

A spokesperson for Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole told the Star late Friday afternoon that testing has been completed, and no new cases have been detected.

“All public health regulations were followed,” Josie Sabatino said.

Lehoux’s case kept the spotlight on the question of how many Conservative MPs have been vaccinated against COVID-19, as Parliament resumed with a mandate for all MPs to be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption.

Lehoux was fully vaccinated, but the Conservatives have not confirmed whether that is the case for all his caucus colleagues.

This week, the Liberals charged that the rarity of legitimate medical exemptions in the general population means the “math doesn’t add up” for the Conservatives to have many, if even one.

The Conservatives called that argument hypocritical.

“At first, there was no issue with exemptions,” Conservative House Leader Gerard Deltell said during debate this week on moving the House of Commons to a hybrid format.

“Now that a few Conservatives have an exemption, that no longer works. Need I remind colleagues that someone in the Liberal government had an exemption at one point?”

The Liberal MP who had an exemption is now fully vaccinated, the government has said.

While some Conservatives have raised doubts about the science regarding COVID-19, most of the public objection has been to the vaccination mandates, with Tories arguing they are an invasion of privacy.

On Friday, two Conservative MPs wrote the privacy commissioner to ask for more information about the Liberals’ decision to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for public service employees and travellers.

“We are concerned that there are significant privacy risks associated with these policies including but not limited to the collection, use and disclosure of personal medical information,” Michael Cooper and Colin Carrie wrote.

They want to know whether a privacy impact assessment has been carried out on the new mandates, and whether the government has given the commissioner information on the “legal authority” it possess to impose vaccine requirements.

Another Conservative MP is pressing the government on the constitutionality of the policy.

Alberta MP Garnett Genuis has asked the government to provide information on whether it has received legal advice that such mandates comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as human rights laws and obligations.

The government must reply within 45 days.


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