It’s not too late Legault
Cher M. Legault,
Let me start my saying that I did not vote for you in the last election, in fact I assumed that I would never be a CAQ voter for a number of reasons. That said, during the first six weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, I found myself increasingly talking about your leadership in a positive way, not only with other non-CAQ supporters in Quebec, but also defending you in discussions with friends and family across Canada. I watched, and understood as your approval ratings went up and up. I watched, impressed, as you consistently demonstrated strong leadership by seemingly heeding the advice of health experts and science coming in from around the world.
Now, as our children, teachers, and support staff go back to ‘school’ (daycare as it will in fact be), I am left to wonder how I could have been so misled in these past few weeks. I feel like a fool for trusting you and am left with no answers whatsoever to give to family and friends who cannot possibly understand how this reckless decision to prioritize the economy over humanity is a responsible government action in any way. Moreover, they are shocked that this is coming from Quebec. (We might have expected this from other Canadian provinces.)
I might add that I have a bachelor’s in honours in political psychology (electoral behaviour) and a juris doctor degree in law. I have nearly two decades of policy-making experience at all levels of government. This education and expertise leaves me with two points that are top of mind:
First, when the public loses trust in a leader and a government, it is nearly impossible to gain it back. I believe that your advisors have miscalculated both the value and mechanics of public trust. Unless you backtrack on this unforgivable policy, you will lose public trust (not only support) forever.
Secondly, your government will not be absolved of the responsibility for the consequences of this reckless action only because you provided parents with the option to send their children to school or not. Given your position of authority, they are relying on your words when you say that it is safe to return (and this is what you are saying by opening up this option). There will, and should be civil action brought against your government for the unnecessary sickness and even deaths that will undoubtedly result from this policy. This would not be as difficult to trace and prove as you might think, given the myriad of already aggravating factors (e.g, no personal protective equipment for all students/teachers, a clearly rushed/forced opening, no consistent testing, including of asymptomatic persons, evidence that the virus is affecting children in new and serious ways, not to mention the current increasing numbers of cases in our province and the numerous outbreaks at daycare centres and hospitals).
It is however, not too late. Right now, the world is desperate for true leadership, the kind that comes from those who will listen to experts and science and who are able to pivot quickly and demonstrate flexibility when faced with new information and evidence. We need compassionate leaders who are willing to put humanity first, before any other consideration, who build a collective community of compassionate citizens, such as Prime Minister Ardern in New Zealand. Quebec needs you to be this kind of leader, now more than ever, in the midst of this crisis.
We can wait for the economy; it will come. What we can't get back is the health and well-being of loved ones who will be made sick by this policy. What you will not be able to get back is the public trust of Quebecers, who rightfully pride themselves on their sense of solidarity and pursuit of the common good. Let's not send our children and teachers back until we know more about this virus and are confident that it is safe to do so. That time is clearly not now. Be that leader who can pivot when needed.