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PHOTOS: In Coquitlam, Conservatives ask Canadians to 'please get vaccinated' while fighting fourth COVID-19 wave

Erin O'Toole unveiled Tories' promise of 'fairness' and 'unity' during his first visit to the Tri-Cities; dodged questions of banning specific rifles in light of recent debate.

A second major political party leader made a trip to the Tri-Cities as campaigning continues for the 2021 federal election.

In Coquitlam today (Sept. 4), Conservative Party of Canada leader Erin O'Toole announced a four-point pitch to Canadians on how a Tory government — if elected — will fight the fourth wave of COVID-19 with the Delta variant as the main concern.

"Right now, this is a time for all of us to come together [...] rather than seeking to divide our country," he said, adding that residents should "act like grown-ups" and focus on finding solutions.

In the Tri-Cities region, every surveillance neighbourhood is at or above an 80% double-vaccinated, but paralleling positivity for the virus have also gone up in recent weeks, currently at a 5% regional average.

Between Aug. 22 and 28, the Tri-Cities tallied 187 cases in the BC Centre for Disease Control's (BCCDC) latest Geographic Distribution of COVID-19 by Local Health Area of Case Residence data.

This represents an increase of just under 25% compared to the 150 cases recorded between Aug. 15 and 21 across Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra, which was a 75% surge itself from the week prior.

O'Toole emphasized during his remarks at the Executive Plaza Hotel — located at 405 North Rd. — that everyone should get immunized, believing vaccines are the safe and effective way to mitigate the pandemic.

"So for those of you out there who haven't yet, please get vaccinated," he said.

"If you're someone that's worried or has second thoughts, I hear you. We haven't done enough to assuage your fears, and sometimes, you've been talked down too. But please trust us, please listen to us. We are here to protect you and your families."

The Tories' plan to fight COVID-19's fourth wave claims politicians should lead by example to ensure "fairness," they should seek to bring the country together in "unity" and to ensure "cooperation" between provincial and federal governments in taking the right steps to "contain, control and eradicate" the virus.

During his conference, O'Toole took a strong stance on the first of its four-point plan, promising the Conservatives would go back to providing daily updates with any and all "information" public health officials have to offer.

"Canadians are right to ask 'Why only now we are receiving updated figures and modeling, and why they stopped when an election was called?'" he said.

"The briefings should resume regularly, no matter how bleak, no matter how inconvenient for the government of the day.

"If we believe in science, then we must let it be heard. And I for one, will always be listening."

O'Toole claims a Conservative government can get national vaccination rates — both first and second doses — above 90% in two months, should they take office in Ottawa on Sept. 20, 2021.


This was O'Toole's first visit to the Tri-Cities ahead of the Sept. 20 decision date. He was joined by Tri-City Conservative candidates Katerina Anastasiadis (Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam) and Nelly Shin (incumbent, Port Moody-Coquitlam).

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has campaigned in Port Moody-Coquitlam twice, including two days after the writ was dropped on Aug. 15.

The riding was decided by 153 votes during the 2019 federal election in favour of incumbent Nelly Shin of the Conservatives over NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo.

The Port Moody-Coquitlam constituency is considered a potential swing riding and is regarded by the political parties as one of about 10 seats in the suburban Vancouver area where gains are made or lost, experts say.

"It's emblematic of the kind of riding where we're going to see voters up for grabs, and seats up for grabs," said Stewart Prest, a Canadian politics instructor at Coquitlam's Douglas College. 

"The fact that this is a three-way contest [Will Davis with the Liberal Party] … that means that a small nudge in one direction or another can really lead to some unpredictable results."

The New Democrats held Port Moody-Coquitlam for a decade before the 2019 election, but former MP Fin Donnelly chose to leave federal politics and was elected in Coquitlam in the fall of 2020 as an NDP member of the B.C. legislature.

- with files from The Canadian Press