State of emergency: Legault could reveal his cards… after the elections

State of emergency: Legault could reveal his cards… after the elections

Quebec Premier François Legault/Josie Desmarais/Metro

The Legault administration will be able to wait until the end of the next elections before revealing in detail the measures implemented in the management of the pandemic. If the government assures that it will do so before the election, the opposition is asking for transparency on its part and the lifting of the state of health emergency.

Since March 2020, i.e. the start of the pandemic, the government renews the state of health emergency by decree, every 10 days. That is to say that he has done it more than a hundred times. Under it, the government enjoys exceptional privileges, including awarding contracts without a call for tenders.

However, the state of health emergency comes with a duty: that of submitting, when it is lifted, a report of the events to the National Assembly. It must detail all the powers and measures that have been used thanks to the state of emergency. It is therefore an important piece to understand the actions taken by the government in the management of the pandemic.

The CAQ will not have to file this report before the elections, however, according to the Public Health Act.

Three months are granted to the government to do so when elected officials are sitting. The problem is that in three months, the elected officials will leave for the summer break.

If the state of health emergency is lifted when the work is stopped, the government has 15 days after the return of elected officials to unveil its report. However, the start of the parliamentary session will not take place in September, as usual, since an election period will begin.

Promise and skepticism

However, the CAQ intends to present its report before the elections, Métro is assured. François Legault had also made the promise to file the report before the elections at the Salon Bleu in February. “As we have already confirmed, we intend to introduce a bill in the coming weeks to end the state of health emergency”, indicates the cabinet of François Legault in an exchange of emails.

Since the start of the parliamentary session, the three opposition parties have been asking the CAQ to lift the state of emergency. “We have been asking the CAQ for weeks to end the state of emergency and file the event report provided for in the Public Health Actso that we can debate it in the National Assembly, says Liberal leader Dominique Anglade in an email exchange with Métro. Ethical scandals are piling up at the CAQ and so are the number of over-the-counter contracts. François Legault must demonstrate greater transparency.”

The state of health emergency is a veritable democratic bazooka. To be fair, the CAQ will have to be very transparent in its reporting of events.

Louis-Philippe Lampron, professor of law at Laval University

Too little, too late?

The possibility that the CAQ will submit its event report after the elections worries the law professor ;Laval University, Louis-Philippe Lampron. But the potential content of the report worries him more. “Section of Public Health Acton this subject is very non-binding: there is almost nothing required of the government. Considering the exceptional power that the government has arrogated to itself in two years, it is its duty to go further than what the law provides,” he believes.

All the details of the management of the pandemic should be revealed according to him, going from the members of the crisis unit to the discussions held up to the details of the contracts granted by mutual agreement. “It’s not to tap the fingers of the CAQ, but to issue a social diagnosis, to note the mistakes made and to learn”, he reasons.

Revision proposed

While the Public Health Act is criticized, the Barreau du Québec proposes a revision to the government. This should be provided with a time limit and a mandatory mechanism for consulting the National Assembly after a certain period of time.

“After two years, are we still in a hurry?” asks President Catherine Claveau. “The Bar believes that a debate must take place on this subject.”

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