O’Toole dodges questions about supporting Alberta’s previous COVID policies after Province reintroduces restrictions

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Published September 16, 2021 at 11:45 am

OTTAWA — Federal leaders are pointing the finger at each other over the spiralling COVID-19 crisis in Alberta, each seeking to forge a link in voters’ minds between the health emergency in the province and the others’ policies.

Earlier today (Sept. 16), Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole evaded questions about what he thinks of the Alberta government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, O’Toole praised the Alberta government’s handling of the pandemic and said Premier Jason Kenney did a better job of managing the crisis than the Liberal government.

Today, O’Toole wouldn’t utter Kenney’s name despite repeated questions from reporters about the provincial premier’s decision on Wednesday night to call a public health emergency and introduce a vaccine passport system.

Alberta’s NDP Opposition says Kenney and his United Conservative Party had pushed to reopen faster and harder than any other province and had refused to act for weeks when it had become obvious COVID-19 transmission was getting out of control.

The federal Tory leader refused to say who he thought has done a better job managing the pandemic, Kenney or Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau, speaking from Montreal this morning, said conservative politicians across the country have not been as effective in fighting the pandemic and questioned whether O’Toole should be sitting across from them at the premiers’ table.

Minutes later at an event in Saint John, N.B., O’Toole pinned the situation in Alberta largely on Trudeau without mentioning Kenney, saying the Liberal leader let the Delta variant gain a foothold and proceeded to trigger an election amid a surging fourth wave.

In Toronto, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said Kenney is to blame but insisted Trudeau must share responsibility, since he set off an election campaign that has soaked up attention and sent candidates canvassing across the country ahead of voting day on Sept. 20.

Singh also says he will change his tactics on the ground to adapt to Alberta’s unfolding crisis, but offered no specifics, saying an “assessment” is underway.

Kenney reintroduced limits on gatherings Wednesday along with elements of a vaccine passport system in Alberta as he declared a public health emergency that is threatening to see intensive care units overflow in just over a week.

O’Toole says if he’s elected, his government would work with all provinces — regardless of which party is in power — to reduce COVID-19 transmission instead of what he called Trudeau’s approach of fighting with premiers.

O’Toole says he has not spoken with Kenney since the Alberta premier announced he would reimpose COVID-19 restrictions to support a hospital system on the brink of collapse.

The Canadian Press

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