Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole is calling recent remarks by Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu “a step backwards” in the fight against COVID-19.
“Some of these conversations like Ms. Gladu’s comments [on Sunday] add more to uncertainty at a time that public officials should be reducing uncertainty,” Erin O’Toole said Monday during a press conference.
“There’s a difference between MPs advocating for their constituency… and creating more uncertainty about vaccines… Public officials should be encouraging a positive dialogue, not dividing people,” O’Toole said.
Gladu had suggested during a CTV interview that polio posed a greater threat than COVID-19.
“In terms of the risk — people that got polio — many of them died and many of them were crippled, and that is not the same frequency of risk that we see with COVID-19,” she told Question Period host Evan Solomon, who rebutted, “You’re saying that COVID’s not as bad as polio?”
“I’m just receiving the information from medical experts that talk about the relative risk. I’m not a doctor myself,” Gladu said.
The third-term MP made headlines last week when she announced her involvement in a new ‘intra-party’ group called the Civil Liberties Caucus. Its goal, she said, is to bring people together and address the unfair and unequal treatment of unvaccinated Canadians.
The Hill Times first reported the ‘mini-caucus’ consisted of 15 to 30 MPs and senators and was launched to “speak up for anti-vaxers who are losing their jobs for refusing to get the shot.”
Gladu has been vocal on social media about her opposition to hospital vaccine mandates, including one Sarnia-Lambton’s hospital enforced on Nov. 1.
“Bluewater Health should follow suit and hire back the staff they fired,” she wrote, pointing to Quebec’s backtracking on its vaccine mandate for health care workers.
“In my riding they let go a bunch of people who were medical workers on the front line,” she told CBC News. “And when nobody was vaccinated they were wearing N95 masks and face shields and gowns and gloves and there’s no evidence that COVID was being transmitted from them.”
Gladu has not disclosed her own vaccination status. When Parliament resumes this month everyone entering the House of Commons must be vaccinated.
“I haven’t disclosed my own vaccination status for medical privacy reasons,” she told CTV. “On November 22, it will be obvious to all what my vaccination status is.”
Gladu’s office canceled a scheduled interview with The Journal on Monday, shortly after O’Toole spoke.
O’Toole said public officials should refer people with questions about the pandemic and vaccines to public health authorities.
“For MPs to create confusion, that’s a step backwards, and we saw that yesterday,” he said. “So we will talk about that as a team.”