Monday evening, news broke late about the sudden resignation of public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda after 12 years, including throughout the full pandemic to date.
Opposition leader Dominique Anglade followed by announcing a new health minister, Monsef Derejji as part of a shuffle of her cabinet.
This set the scene for a 1 p.m. press conference by the premier assumed to focus on public health leadership and the pandemic health measures. Instead, the premier shocked the province and the country with a high drama, low detail announcement that Legault’s government will impose a tax on the unvaccinated.
Public discourse immediately slammed on the breaks and flipped the high beams on the premier’s surprise announcement. The Record’s mid-afternoon call with Anglade for comment on the shuffle and Arruda’s resignation, instead became a conversation about leadership and improvisation in the time of Covid.
(Record) I had expected a factual conversation about the shadow cabinet shuffle, but can we start with this afternoon’s shocker: the announcement a tax on the unvaccinated?
(Anglade) First of all, let me tell you I was expecting after twelve days of absence of the premier at the press conference that he would come and tell us exactly what was going to happen on Monday with kids going back to school. This is what people are waiting for. Are we going back to school or not? What’s going to happen? Nothing. No information whatsoever regarding back-to-school. We don’t know when. We don’t know how. We don’t know how many rapid tests are available right now. We don’t know how they are going to be deployed. It is really unacceptable. We are even more in the dark than we were before the press conference, so this is mindboggling.
The second thing I was expecting in this press conference was the fact that the arrival of a new leader of public health, that François Legault would change the way that he has been handling the [crisis team]. This is a [crisis team] that is mostly political. There is no clear division between public health and the political decisions that are being made. And yet again he said, “You know, I’m going to do the same thing I was doing before and I’m going to keep on doing exactly the same.” So, no change and no recognition for the need to go back to the National Assembly and have real debates.
And thirdly, to answer specifically your question regarding the measure. First of all, it’s improvised. He tells us a story about a measure that he has improvised. It probably comes from a poll that he did and even the head of public health did not have an opinion about this. Were you consulted? “Well, no, and I don’t have an opinion.” So, what is it based on? Would it be efficient? It raises a thousand questions that should be debated at the National Assembly.