LILLEY: Trudeau smiles and waves; O’Toole beat up over vaccinations

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Justin Trudeau couldn’t help but smile as he addressed the assembled Liberal caucus at their first meeting since the election.

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Not only did Trudeau get to give a speech where he reiterated his campaign talking points and claimed voters had given him a bold mandate, he knew his opponent was about to be punched like a pinata a short time later.

The public appearances for Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole were just an hour apart on Parliament Hill and couldn’t have been more different.

Trudeau was poised and confident, using his best drama teacher skills to sell his message while O’Toole was on his back foot, trying to explain away the latest comments from an MP who seems determined to torpedo her leader and party.

On Sunday, Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu, who last week had announced the formation of a “civil liberties” caucus to push back against vaccine mandates, stuck her foot in her mouth again. Appearing on CTV’s Question Period , Gladu downplayed the risk of COVID compared to polio.

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“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,” Gladu said.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Public Health Agency of Canada has recorded 29,132 COVID-related deaths. While most people recover, the virus can be deadly among the elderly and immune-compromised people.

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Gladu’s comments gave Trudeau the opening he needed to pick up the COVID stick and start beating the Conservatives with it once again, just as he did all through the election.

“Even as Canadians are continuing to get vaccinated at record rates, the Conservatives are actually moving backward. More and more Conservatives are now stepping up to stand against vaccinations, to stand against science,” Trudeau said.

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His message is what many Canadians will hear, not whatever Gladu is trying to sell.

There are valid concerns to be raised regarding the effectiveness of certain public health measures and the impact of government actions on civil liberties.

But few will hear about those the way Gladu is going about this. When the lead spokesperson can’t clearly articulate their position, or they sully their message with ridiculous polio comparisons, the public will be lost.

The general public won’t care about obscure distinctions of policy. Gladu, and whoever joins her, will be labelled as members of the anti-vax caucus because like so many who rise up against public health measures, she can’t sell her message.

In politics, that’s what matters and it is why Trudeau is effective — he can communicate.

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  1. Conservative Party member Marilyn Gladu.

    LILLEY: Gladu raises serious issues in the wrong way and hurts her party

  2. Conservative Party member Marilyn Gladu is seen Feb. 20, 2020.

    Tories to form ‘mini-caucus’ on vaccine mandates; MP says it’s not about O’Toole

  3. None

    MODERN CONSERVATIVE CONTENDER: Marilyn Gladu is ready to lead Canada

Instead of taking questions at his news conference on the very dangerous idea of a Liberal-NDP coalition — something Canada can ill afford — O’Toole was taking questions about Gladu, the vaccination status of his MPs, and what unvaccinated MPs might do when the House resumes on Nov. 22.

O’Toole’s message that a Trudeau-Singh coalition would be, “a disaster for the Canadian economy and cause devastating financial impacts for workers and communities” was lost for the day.

O’Toole is trying to move his party forward and push issues that will resonate with Canadians, but some in his party are holding him back like an anchor.

If they continue to act as anchors instead of getting in the boat and rowing like a team, he will have to cut them loose.

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