By Gordon Lambie
A year is a long time, but looking back on the events and significant changes that took place over the course of 2022 can make it feel especially so.
As the year began, Quebecers were still under a holiday COVID-19 lockdown. Headlines from the early days of January spoke of a hope that students would be able to return to class by Jan 17, nearly two weeks later than planned in some cases, and a forecast of 3,000 Covid-specific hospitalizations provincewide by mid-month. The province still had regular updates about the pandemic situation led by Health Minister Christian Dubé, and The Record was providing daily updates of local case, death, and hospital numbers, as well as updates on the number of workers missing from the local and provincial healthcare network due to the added strain from the pandemic. The vaccine passport was still in full effect, and Premier François Legault briefly floated the idea of charging what many called a “vaccine tax” on people who opted not to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to offset the costs to the medical system (although that idea only lasted about two weeks before he withdrew it).
By the end of that month, the controversial “freedom convoy” was making its way to Ottawa where participants, including some from the Eastern Townships, took over the streets for more than two weeks before the government invoked the Emergencies Act to try to control the situation. Although public opinion proved divided on the convoy and its outcomes, a look at the Covid news that followed shows a large-scale withdrawal of control measures across Quebec that paved the way for a second half to the year where everything listed so far in this reflection feels like it came from another era.