QUEBEC CITY -- Quebec Solidaire is calling for a "healthy, intelligent and rational" debate on the curfew, which would not have the same impact on all Quebecers.

Its parliamentary leader, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, believes that the curfew, which has been in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in several regions since January 9, is not "illegal."

In fact, this exceptional measure was originally intended to be an "electroshock," he recalled. Three months later, "the electroshock is still there," he said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

If some wealthy people live well with the curfew, others live it very badly, said Nadeau-Dubois.

He took the example of drug addicts and homeless people, or of a family of seven or eight crammed into a small apartment without a yard or balcony in Montreal. "We must listen to these voices," he said.

"These are very respectable people, who have nothing to do with the cuckoos who dispute the existence of the pandemic, who point out these facts."

The left-wing political party maintains that the curfew has a differential impact on people's living conditions, whether they are rich or poor.

In comparison, "wearing the mask ... whether you live in a palace or in a small apartment, is the same thing. Social distancing, whether you are rich or poor, two meters is two meters," he said. 

The concerns around the curfew are not only "Montrealers," he said. "The proof is that the Ligue des droits et libertés, a 'national' group, shares them."

He also points out that the effectiveness of the curfew is the subject of scientific debate and that Quebec is the only Canadian province to have chosen to apply such a measure.

Google data has shown that the curfew has had an impact on reducing travel.

But other Quebec data tends to show that the number of contacts in homes would not have really changed between the second and third wave, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said.

The outbreaks of COVID-19 have mostly occurred in workplaces, schools and daycares, he added.

"Is the curfew the right measure to fight against transmission if it occurs, this transmission, in priority in places where the curfew does not apply?" he said. 

"I claim the right to ask these questions. In a democracy, when we adopt strong measures, ... it is not useless to debate them first."

QS presented a motion in the National Assembly on Wednesday calling for a calm, science-based debate involving the Institut national de santé publique du Quebec (INSPQ).

The INSPQ must do a rigorous analysis of the benefits and drawbacks, according to Nadeau-Dubois, who rejects accusations that his party is "against all health measures."

The Legault government has refused to debate the motion.

Last week, the government also blocked a QS motion condemning the ruckus that occurred during a demonstration against the curfew in the streets of Old Montreal.

The motion also called for a democratic debate "on health measures, including curfew."

Deputy Prime Minister Genevieve Guilbault saw it as a "move" by QS "to avoid condemning civil disobedience."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2021.