Canada's Conservative opposition leader Erin O'Toole tests positive for Covid-19

OTTAWA (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – The new leader of Canada’s main opposition Conservative Party, Mr Erin O’Toole, tested positive for coronavirus on Friday (Sept 18), five days before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to unveil a new agenda that could trigger an election.

Mr O’Toole received the diagnosis late Friday, according to a statement from his party. A staff member he travelled with contracted Covid-19 earlier in the week.

The 47-year-old, who was elected as the country’s opposition leader last month, is “very relieved” that his wife and children tested negative for the virus, the party said.

“Mr O’Toole remains in self-isolation and is feeling well.”

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 9,000 Canadians and authorities are on high alert to prevent a second wave.

Mr Trudeau suspended Parliament on Aug 18 amid an ethics scandal and after appointing a new finance minister in the middle of Canada’s worst economic slump since the Great Depression.

His Liberal government will set out a new agenda on Wednesday, which would need the support of at least one opposition party after losing a majority in elections almost a year ago.

Mr Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, also tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday.

The Liberals have 154 seats in the legislature, while the Conservatives hold 121. The Bloc Quebecois is in third place with 32 seats, the left-leaning New Democratic Party – the most natural partner for Mr Trudeau – has 24, and the Green Party holds 3.

There are two independents and two vacancies – including the seat former Finance Minister Bill Morneau abandoned after a public policy feud with the prime minister over the government’s pandemic response.

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