A Conservative MP who is no stranger to taking sharp partisan jabs rose in the House of Commons Thursday to instead offer gracious words for the prime minister and his family.
Dane Lloyd, who represents the Alberta riding of Sturgeon River-Parkland, said before question period that he scrapped prepared remarks to criticize the Liberal government over what he calls its failure to champion Canada’s energy industry.
Just weeks ago, Lloyd pointedly accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “killing” Teck Resources Ltd.’s massive mining project as part of a plot to “end the oilsands,” even though the company withdrew its application in another big blow to Albertans.
But Lloyd was evidently struck by the news Thursday that the prime minister is self-isolating as his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau undergoes tests for COVID-19. (It would later be revealed Grégoire Trudeau tested positive). The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the Liberal leader is not exhibiting symptoms.
Another “partisan speech” would have been the last thing Canadians need to hear right now, Lloyd said.
“Today as we face the pandemic of COVID-19, we learn that the prime minister and his wife have entered self-isolation. We learn of new cases every day,” he said.
“I urge Canadians: do not give in to fear. We are going to carry on, we are going to survive, and we are going to be stronger than ever.”
He ended by extending “heartfelt prayers to the prime minister and his family,” and all other Canadians affected by the growing crisis. His remarks yielded a standing ovation from MPs on both sides of the aisle.
Tory Leader Andrew Scheer, who raised some eyebrows Wednesday by not leading off question period with queries on the coronavirus pandemic, also had a shift in approach.
“I’m sure I speak for all members when I convey our best wishes to the prime minister and his wife and any other parliamentarians who may be affected by symptoms, and wish him and her a speedy recovery,” Scheer said.
Liberal cabinet ministers Seamus O’Regan and Mary Ng are also self-isolating out of what they called an abundance of caution. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was absent from the House Thursday, too, after tweeting that he is feeling “unwell” and has been advised to “limit contact with the public.”
Health Minister Patty Hajdu, who told a standing committee this week that 30 to 70 per cent of Canadians could become infected with novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, later harkened back to Lloyd’s remarks while fielding questions.
Hajdu said it was “very encouraging” to hear a member of the opposition call for Canadians to “pull together” in the face of the challenge.
“This is a public health crisis that we have not seen in recent times,” she said.