Politics in the time of COVID-19: campaigns in Canada, U.S. pivot amid outbreak

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OTTAWA — The ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus is forcing political campaigns on either side of the Canada-U.S. border to consider changing their plans.

In Canada, Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole is developing a plan B if the small-scale events planned for the coming weeks can’t go ahead.

O’Toole’s team is considering whether to replace in-person events with webinars, telephone town halls and greater use of social media.

The topic was also top of mind at fellow contender Marilyn Gladu’s daily planning meeting, while Derek Sloan says he’s hearing from people rethinking plans to host his events.

There are also two large-scale conservative events scheduled for the next month and organizers of both say they are keeping an eye on developments to adjust their own plans.

In the U.S., with the race to lead the Democrats back to the White House in full swing, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders both cancelled major campaign events in Cleveland and will debate each other in Phoenix this weekend without a live audience present.