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UPDATE: Gladu apologizes for remarks, dropped from Tory shadow cabinet

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Tara Jeffrey

Marilyn Gladu has apologized for remarks she made about COVID-19 that sparked public anger and drew criticism from her own party leader.

“I would like to apologize for my inappropriate comments about COVID-19 vaccines during a recent CTV interview,” the three-term Sarnia-Lambton MP said in a statement today.

“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 retract these comments in full.”

During an interview Sunday on CTV’s Question Period Gladu suggested 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 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.

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole called the remarks “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.

When O’Toole announced his shadow cabinet today, Gladu’s name was noticeably absent.

Gladu, a former party leadership contender, had previously served as Andrew Scheer’s Shadow Minister of Health and the science critic under interim-leader Rona Ambrose.

In her release today, Gladu said:

“I apologize unreservedly to Canadians. I also apologize to my caucus colleagues and Leader for the distraction my comments have created. Vaccines are a safe and effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and prevent serious illness. I encourage every Canadian, who is able, to get vaccinated. When it comes to the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it should be physicians and public health experts who advise Canadians, not politicians.

In April 2020, Gladu was criticized for telling Blackburn News the drug hydroxychloroquine had a “nearly 100% recovery rate” against COVID-19, despite Health Canada warning against its use.

Sarnia-Lambton’s 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 cancelled 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 [Sunday],” he said. “So we will talk about that as a team.”




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