Perfection? Hardly, Premier Legault.



What is perfection, really?

For Quebec Premier François Legault, perfection seems to be 7,155 people dead.  Perfection are the thousands of seniors left without proper care.  Perfection is a months-long semi-lockdown where 1,000 cases per day of COVID was an acceptable plateau.  Perfection is dangling the prospect of Christmas with family if people would only just not spread the virus.  Perfection is hundreds of health care workers infected and a hospital system on the brink of collapse.

Perfection, in other words, is failure.  Abject, complete failure.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, Legault has failed the people of this province again and again.

So, you can perhaps understand my fury at our premier when in an interview in the French-language magazine L’actualité Legault was asked whether he though he had made any mistakes.

“No, I don’t see any,” he said.

No, you don’t see any?  You don’t see the thousands of dead people?  The elderly who were put into a system so rotten, so wretched that countless of them were left to die hungry, unwashed, uncared for, and utterly alone?

Well then.  Let’s look at some of the failures of this premier, shall we?

Of the 7,155 deaths in the province, 5,997 of those who have died were in some long-term care facility, according to figures kept by independent journalist Nora Loretto*.  That’s 84 percent of the total.  Eighty-four percent.  Deaths in Quebec LTC account for nearly half (48.6 percent) of all the 12, 325 deaths in Canada. Half. 

In B.C., the province moved to bar workers in LTC from working in multiple care homes once they had COVID outbreaks in fewer than a dozen or so homes.  Here in Quebec, Legault was closing business at that point.  LTC workers were only barred from multiple homes more than month later — and even then it wasn’t a rule, more of a ministerial suggestion.

So, right there, we have an obvious failure of Legault’s policy.  Workers could take COVID from one care home and spread it around to another.  Bring the virus to the very bedside of the most vulnerable throughout the province.

You could maybe be forgiven for wanting to separate out the LTC deaths.  It does seem easy to say, “Well, if you don’t count all the LTC deaths, Quebec did pretty well with the pandemic.”

But you can’t do that.  Those 6,000 people — six thousand! — that died in care homes did not have to.  Many of them, maybe even most of them, could still be with us.  But they’re not.  They’re dead.  And they are dead because of decisions Legault and his government made.

Anyhow today, as I write this Thursday afternoon, Legault has effectively cancelled Christmas.  He’s done this after previously proposing a “moral contract” with the people of the province.  The contract was essentially if we were all really good little boys and girls, we would be able to have four separate gatherings of up to 10 people.  For those of you counting at home, that’s a series of gatherings involving as many as 40 separate people gathering together.

On that fact alone, the plan was an utter farce.  Never mind the contract bit where we were supposed to limit our contacts with people on our own accord in advance of Christmas, while at the same time being encouraged to go out in stores and malls to shop.  (And let’s just not even mention people who aren’t Christians getting time to celebrate on the appropriate dates, it was Christmas or nothing.)

The idea was that things would miraculously get better — through the magic of Christmas, no doubt — despite large swathes of the province having been in the “red zone” for much of the fall.

In that time, cases essentially never dipped below 1,000 per day.  Everything that’s been done so far has simply not worked.  How this would is a mystery.

Instead, it’s put us to this precipice of total disaster, stretching the health system as far as it could, and now it’s set to break.

I am beside myself with rage.

I haven’t hugged either of my parents — who live in Ontario — since my grandmother’s funeral back in January.  I may not get to hug them until spring.

The premier’s conception of his own perfection is a poke in the eye, a kick in the shin, a slap in the face of all of us.

None of this had to happen.  Seniors could have been protected from the start.  When the red zones didn’t work, harsher measures could have come into force.  Had things been done differently, had errors not been made again and again, we might have a health system with staff that weren’t burnt to a crisp, and beds to spare.  We would not have to lock ourselves away for a whole winter.

Thousands of people did not have to die.  But they did, and things have rolled out that way.

We are where we are because of the premier’s errors, and because of his arrogance.

* The calculation of how many of those took place in Quebec are my own, so if there are any errors, they are my own.

Photo Credit: Montreal Gazette

More from Robert Hiltz.     @robert_hiltz

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