COVID-19 compared to a cold: a statement by Legault causes discomfort

A statement by Prime Minister François Legault, which compared COVID-19 to a cold for vaccinated people, does not pass among the opposition parties in Quebec.

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His opponents accuse the Prime Minister of having sought to minimize the sixth wave currently hitting Quebec.

François Legault said last Monday that vaccination “helps”. “I lived it last week: even if you catch it, it gives you a cold, more or less,” he said.

The opposition parties did not like it. “We can’t minimize this case by saying: it’s a cold. Me, I do not know anyone who died of a cold, then I had colds in life, I never picked myself up in intensive care, underlined the united deputy Vincent Marissal. It is a jovialism that is not up to the height of the institution of the Prime Minister, who must nevertheless stay the course and not lower his guard.

Liberal Monsef Derraji also lamented “a shortcut” from the prime minister. “I don’t know, after two years of the pandemic, what made the prime minister say COVID was a cold,” he says.

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For the parliamentary leader of the Parti Québécois, Joël Arseneau, the Prime Minister has sought to “trivialize” the pandemic.

“If the COVID continues to kill now, for the Prime Minister, to trivialize the effect that it can have on a very large number of people, well, that gives a funny message, especially since we want to keep a number of measures in place and that we want to stimulate the third dose vaccination, perhaps even, eventually, and it has already started, in fact, the fourth dose. So, this message, obviously, it sows confusion in the population, and it is regrettable”, he declared.

A few hours later, François Legault had the opportunity to respond on the sidelines of an announcement with an economic flavor. Thanks to vaccination, he repeated, the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of a cold for many people. “Now there are people who end up in hospital, there are people who die and it is important to continue to protect, especially vulnerable people, older people,” said the Prime Minister.

He criticized the PLQ for “choosing a bit of a sentence”, rather than all of his remarks.

“Intimidation”

Moreover, the altercation between MP Derraji and Minister Dubé the day before continued to stir up reactions.

The Caquistes criticize the Liberal MP for having quoted Mr. Legault by omitting the part on vaccination. The tweets of Monsef Derraji, in the same direction, also displeased the government.

Mr. Derraji, for his part, did not appreciate the intervention of the Minister of Health, in a parliamentary committee, to interrupt him when he quoted the words of François Legault. “Yesterday for me, whether it was the Minister of Health, whether it was one of his colleagues, I felt intimidated and I felt that the government side was limiting my job of asking the right questions,” said the Liberal MP.

“And I want to tell you, this is not the first time that I have had this feeling with Mr. Dubé. Go back to his exchange in questioning at the Blue Room, where he taxed us that we were giving support to people who encourage the carrying of arms, ”added Mr. Derraji.

Indeed, Christian Dubé had to apologize, at the beginning of February, after having affirmed that it “is irresponsible for the opposition to come to endorse people who threaten to take up arms against health instructions by insinuating that it would be a little the fault of the government”. The statement had raised an outcry in the opposition.

On Thursday, the Minister of Health reiterated his criticism of Monsef Derraji. “These days, the population is fragile, we are going through very difficult times with the sixth wave, he hammered. I think parliamentarians, including everyone, should be careful about what they say. And what was done by the member for Nelligan was grossly inappropriate.”

For Mr. Dubé, the Prime Minister was speaking only of his own experience by comparing COVID-19 to a cold. “He was talking about the importance of vaccination,” said the Minister of Health. He said that he had been vaccinated three times and that, for him, in these personal circumstances, it was equivalent to a cold because, precisely, he had had three doses.


Liberal MP Monsef Derraji

Archival photo

Liberal MP Monsef Derraji

For François Legault, Monsef Derraji used his words “out of context”. “It’s misinformation,” he said.

Bill challenged

On the substance, the amendments made last week did not reassure opposition parties about Bill 28, which provides for the extension of certain extraordinary powers and the extension of certain contracts after the lifting of the emergency state.

Last week, Christian Dubé specified which decrees would remain in force until the end of the year, at the latest.

“The fundamental problem, upstream, is that the government has neither the intention nor the courage to review the Health Act to review the way in which a state of emergency is declared. And therein lies the fundamental problem. Because he always gives himself, again, the power to redeclare a state of emergency according to the law that is currently before us. This law, it is young, it is the first time that it has been used. We have to see it again”, summed up Vincent Marissal.

For PQ member Joël Arseneau, “we have two choices: either we put it aside, we table a new, much simpler bill, or we take what we have on the table, then we eliminate the superfluous, then we puts, essentially, what we need”.

“Do we need a bill to lift the state of emergency? The answer was clear: no,” said Monsef Derraji.

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