Legault's press conference omissions draw fire from opposing parties
MONTREAL -- Premier Francois Legault's approach to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic is once again under fire by his political rivals, this time for “forgetting” to explain some public health measures during his press conferences.
Parti Quebecois house leader Pascal Berube accused the premier of addressing some issues but not others in order to avoid being associated with unpopular measures.
“It's a strategy,” he said. “Where does his interest lie? Not to associate the premier or Health Minister with unpopular measures in front of one or two million people.”
As a recent example, Berube pointed to the confusion over Quebecers' obligation to wear a mask outside and at work, or changes to physical distancing rules in theatres in cinemas.
These measures, announced in a press release after Legault's press conference on Thursday, were largely unnoticed by many in the province.
Berube said the lack of explanations forces Quebecers to come to their own interpretations. He said the least Legault could do is “correctly” inform Quebecers of measures that affect their daily lives.
On Tuesday, the PQ also reiterated its demand for government and public health press briefings to be held separately.
Berube said public health chief Horacio Arruda should be “released” to speak without the sometimes disapproving “sidelong glances” of Legault.
Legault is also facing criticism from Quebec solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who called his communications approach “political choices.”
“I think his time would be better spent in the midst of a health crisis teaching about health measures rather than defending his leadership style.”
Liberal leader Dominique Anglade urged the Legault government to review its press briefings.
“If we don't have all the information, what's the point?” she said.
All opposition parties expressed concern about what they perceive as an erosion of public support for public health measures during the pandemic's third wave.
Legault defend himself on Tuesday, apologizing for having neglected to mention some of the new measures last week.
“We already had a lot of announcements to make, so it was I who made the decision not to say it,” he said.
On the obligation to wear a mask outside, Legault said he was unaware of the change before the briefing began.
“Maybe it had been told to me, but I was not aware,” he said, adding that he didn't believe the measure was really new.
“What they sais that when you're with another perosn you don't live with, you have to wear a mask. That's not something new.”
He later revised his position, saying “It's true it escaped me. I actually did not pay attention to the issue of masks when I was briefed.”