Trudeau defends event in Ontario with 400 people, says all health guidelines were followed

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks during a campaign stop in Brampton, Ont., September 14, 2021.CARLOS OSORIO / Reuters

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau defends a crowded event in Brampton with 400 people on Tuesday night, saying the event met provincial guidelines.

Trudeau, who was in Halifax on Wednesday to highlight his party’s health care plans, including COVID-19 vaccinations and efforts to end the pandemic, said the Liberals followed all regulations regarding capacity because it is necessary to follow the guidelines “as you go.”

“At the same time, we have to recognize that almost 80 percent of Canadians have done the right thing, have been vaccinated, those who qualify,” Trudeau said. “This means that for these people being able to get back to doing the things we love is more and more of a possibility.”

The pandemic has been a key part of this election campaign, including lingering questions about why Mr. Trudeau decided to call an election in Wave Four. Other parties have said the Liberal leader’s decision was motivated by self-interest and the pursuit of majority government.

The fourth wave of the pandemic is caused by those who are not vaccinated and put the recovery at risk, Trudeau said. The Liberals did not respond when asked if there was a vaccination requirement in place for supporters to attend the event. A spokesperson said the party will follow all public health guidelines wherever events take place across the country.

Trudeau also said on Wednesday it was “inconceivable” to him that Conservative leader Erin O’Toole would not demand that her candidates be vaccinated and be ready to support “anti-vaccine” candidates.

Mr. O’Toole said Wednesday that Mr. Trudeau’s event was “in defiance of common sense and social distancing guidelines.”

“Once again, Justin Trudeau has highlighted his rights and privileges,” said Mr. O’Toole during his daily election press conference, held Wednesday at the Canadian Legion Hall in Jonquière, a borough of the city. from Quebec to Saguenay, about 200 kilometers north of Quebec.

Mr O’Toole said the Liberal rally was held in “a packed house” in a “major COVID hot spot in Canada”.

The liberal event took place in a large hall in Brampton, known as Speranza Banquet Hall, and 400 people were allowed into the space, the party said. He also noted that the usual capacity of the room is 1,000 and that the COVID-19 guidelines mean that the maximum number that could be in the room was 500.

Ontario regulations also state that members of the public must be able to maintain a physical distance of at least two meters from any other person in the interior portion of the event space.

Liberal organizers have marked boxes on the ground with green duct tape to encourage people to practice physical distancing, but many have stepped outside of those lines in an attempt to get closer to Mr. Trudeau. When he left the hall, he was greeted by a crowd of supporters.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said Wednesday that city officials informed him the event was in accordance with current Ontario protocols.

There were also seniors in the room, including 87-year-old former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who appeared at the event in support of Mr. Trudeau, and the former mayor of Mississauga, 100 year-old Hazel McCallion.

When asked on Wednesday why he would organize such an event, including with seniors, Trudeau replied that “no one tells Hazel McCallion or Jean Chrétien what to do or not to do “.

“I was so happy that they chose to join us for this event,” he said.

Ms McCallion, who supports Mr Trudeau, told reporters on Tuesday night that it was “unfortunate” that an election had been called during a pandemic. She said the government should instead focus on the recovery and get people back to work to move the economy forward.

When asked if she felt comfortable in the crowded Brampton space, Ms McCallion said that was why she didn’t think an election should have been called during a pandemic.

“Governments have said, ‘Stay at home, get away, including in a group,’ she said. “And then an election is called, which brings people together in groups.”

On the issue of safety, Mr Chrétien said he did not know the format of the event but felt safe as he was vaccinated, adding that he was happy to have come.

With a report from Ian Bailey in Saguenay, Quebec.

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