Two of the leaders of Ontario’s four major political parties have been sidelined with COVID-19 with two weeks left to election day.
Both NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner have tested positive, with Horwath’s result coming Thursday morning and Schreiner’s coming the previous evening.
All four party leaders were in relatively close proximity and unmasked on Monday night during a televised election debate.
Horwath said she doesn’t know where she caught the virus and Schreiner said he tested himself Wednesday after close contact with a staff member who ended up testing positive.
Like many others in this pandemic, this morning I tested positive for COVID-19. We’re doing our best to keep everyone safe. I was looking forward to seeing folks in Northern Ontario. We’ll have to make adjustments but I’ll keep connecting with people however I can safely. #ONpoli
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca both tested negative Thursday.
Horwath and Schreiner are now campaigning virtually, but it takes them off the campaign trail in person at pivotal moments.
Schreiner was trying to build momentum following a debate performance that earned him plaudits and Horwath was just about to embark on a tour of the north, a critical area of support for her party.
“I am really regretful that that’s been turned around,” Horwath said over Zoom on Thursday morning.
“I feel like I have something. I feel like I have a bit of a bug, you know, headache and sore throat. Not really bad, though,
I’ve been taking Tylenol, and that kind of takes the fever down. But I’m certainly not 100 per cent.”
Horwath said she will not return to the campaign trail in person until she returns negative tests for COVID-19. Current public health guidelines only require her to self-isolate for five days, but many people report testing positive for 10 days or more.
Schreiner was unclear on how long he would stay in isolation, only saying he would campaign remotely “as long as I need to, to make sure we prioritize health and safety.”
“I’m confident that we’ll be able to continue campaigning, and building on the momentum we have,” he said over Zoom.
Ford said he tested himself Thursday morning “out of an abundance of caution.”
“I encourage everyone across Ontario to continue following the protocols,” he said. “(If) you have symptoms, please get tested.”
Del Duca said at a campaign stop Thursday he will test daily and wishes Horwath and Schreiner speedy recoveries.
“I think this is a good reminder that though we all want to be on the other side of this pandemic, that there are still risks, and that so many here in Mississauga and across Ontario, are still struggling,” he said.
“We can’t simply just pretend that everything is fine, that everyone’s OK.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford took a rapid test Thursday morning “out of an abundance of caution” and the result was negative, according to the party.
The party initially declined to say whether Ford had tested when contacted by Nation World News.
Speaking at a campaign stop in Niagara Thursday morning, Ford said he would not be changing anything about the way he’s campaigning.
“We’re always going to follow the protocols of the chief medical officer,” Ford said. “I encourage everyone to continue to follow the protocols, but we have a plan to keep the economy in the province open.”
Meanwhile, advance voting locations opened Thursday and are running until May 28, ahead of the June 2 election.