“It is in Quebec that the guidelines have been followed and there is a link to do with the issuance of 13h. People saw me a little like the father of the family,” said François Legault.
June 19, 2020
Updated on June 20, 2020 4h20
François Legault: orchestrating the chaos
“The night, I woke up to take notes and I arrived at the meeting in the morning with two pages of questions. I made them build a lot of tables that didn’t exist. I said : “We are going to take the NURSING one-by-one. How many cases? How many deaths? Organize-for me, green, yellow, red.””
François Legault is visual. The accounting officer training has always loved understand or explain with the help of tables, graphs, diagrams. Illustrate the figures.
The long desk where he was working, each day was filled with folders, when the prime minister has received The Sun in his office on parliament hill in Quebec city, this week. The host took the trouble to pack a stack to be able to see well his interlocutors, in front of him, the time of the interview.
The furniture in blond wood behind which he sits is a birthday gift offered by the Union nationale of Maurice Duplessis, in 1958. Seventeen prime ministers were installed prior to Mr. Legault. No other has had to manage a pandemic that claimed the lives of over 5,000 Quebec.
Saturday, it’s been 100 days that the Quebec lives under a state of health emergency declared by the government Legault for fighting the virus of the COVID-19.
Mr. Legault is back on its famous press briefings conducted in the beginning of each after-noon from march 12, flanked by the national director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, and the minister of Health and social Services, Danielle McCann.
“It was improvised”, he says. “We didn’t say : “We are going to make it to 13!” We began to make it to 13 the first day and it continued the following days.”
Routine which has now come to an end of a non-official way, “unless it happens something special”, he says.
Scare the world
The occurrence of daily, an hour at the screen, more often looked at that District 31 or The Voice, required hours of preparation to lead to a short address felt to the nation before answering the questions of journalists. The one who has been minister of Health 17 years ago, for 15 months, has been mostly a need to deepen its knowledge in public health.
“Part of the success [of containment], it is because the people listened to 13h and have followed the instructions. It is in Quebec that the guidelines have been followed and there is a link to do with the issuance of 13h. People saw me a little like the father of the family,” said Mr. Legault.
Weapon that was later realized to be double-edged, at the time of the déconfinement.
“Quebecers had already scared. Perhaps we have succeeded too well in our operation, 13h”, thinks aloud the prime minister.
But he still has on the heart the comments of some who paddled in the opposite direction, from his point of view. As the opposition member of the pq’s Véronique Hivon at the time of the reopening of the schools, the beginning of may.
“Véronique Hivon is output to say : “It doesn’t make sense that we are thinking of reopening the schools and threaten our children!”” he said, pressing the word children to accentuate the severity.
“As if you returned to the war, almost… But it is necessary to explain the other side of the coin! If a child does not return to the school before September and that he has learning difficulties, do not go to school for six months, it is very serious for this child-there! And I knew by the public Health risks for the young people were very limited. But do fear the world, it is easy.”
In addition to the criticism from the opposition, the doubts were mounting within its own ranks. “People in communications told me : “If ever the reopening of primary schools in the regions did not go well, your political life is finished, Mr. Legault! Think twice!” But it is necessary to think of the welfare of the children too. And it has been” welcomed there today.
It was lacking information
Like an echo of itself. “It’s going to go well!” Quebec has heard the prime minister repeat the slogan from the 24th of march. “It has been, except in NURSING homes”, he admits now with humility.
“I think that it was transparent”, he says, with a little hindsight. “People have tried at one point to say that it was not, but that’s just because I didn’t have the information, me the first! Because we have a information system that is archaic to the Health, in fact in many departments within the government of Québec,” he says. We think of, among others, declarations of death by fax.
“Part of the success [of containment], it is because the people listened to 13h and have followed the instructions. It is in Quebec that the guidelines have been followed and there is a link to do with the issuance of 13h. People saw me a little like the father of the family ”
François Legault, Quebec’s premier
The “nightmare” of Mr. Legault has been to see the residents of accommodation centres, long-term care (CHSLD) downright abandoned. The lack of 10 000 health care workers that prevailed already before the crisis, the shortage has exceeded the height of the epidemic 20 000 employees, most of them orderlies.
“There have been cases pathetic… people who ran out of food or who have not had a drink for hours, days… By 2020, at Quebec, a modern society, responsible…” let he fall, thinking no doubt that her own mother, Pauline, 91 years, would have been able to suffer the same fate if it was placed.
Spend the summer praying
This led him to accommodate the separate investigations initiated by the ombudsman and the chief coroner with serenity. But “we want to do something more. To see as it takes what has happened and what we could have done better”.
Because Mr. Legault says it is “confident that it will be the best” to defend against the second wave of contagion. But he “prays that it doesn’t happen before the 15th of September,” he adds, with many of the approximately 10 000 new attendants in CHSLDS, including the accelerated training paid has just begun.
“People in communications told me : “If ever the reopening of primary schools in the regions did not go well, your political life is finished, Mr. Legault! Think twice!” But it is necessary to think of the welfare of the children too. And it has been ”
François Legault, Quebec’s premier
By then, 8000 volunteers recruited through the government site JeContribue are in the book, as well as the 270 last soldiers still stationed in NURSING homes, but on the point of pack up and leave.
François Legault and his government hope to benefit from a summer of respite for all of these reasons.
But also to have time to make a tribute to the Quebecers who died of the COVID-19. Special ceremony? A national funeral? Memorial? The formula remains to be specified, the time also. “Soon”, is simply to promise the prime minister.