Editorial: The CAQ Christmas plan is unfair and hypocritical

The provincial government again shows its true priorities

Graphic Carl Bindman

The Coalition Avenir Quebec has delivered us a Christmas miracle!

Despite the raging second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will still be able to gather for Christmas. Over the course of four days, gatherings of ten people will be permitted. Ideally just once, but no more than twice. People should try to isolate for at least a week before and after the period. Participants should also take care to stay distanced, wear masks, and frequently wash their hands. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Unless, of course, you celebrate another holiday than Christmas. In Legault’s Quebec, only Christians get special exemptions. No other religion gets a free pass to endanger everyone else. The government already can’t respect the basic human rights of citizens that don’t fit in its catho-laïcité, much less give them such a dangerously indulgent exemption.

What if you’re an essential worker who can’t isolate for a week? Do the heroes of the frontline get anything from this plan?

And what of the retail worker that can’t get two weeks to stay at home over the busiest shopping season? They’re out of luck, too. This year, more than usual, Christmas is a class privilege.

One thing is clear from the CAQ’s plan: they live to please their core base, pandemic be damned. The only people who will be able to successfully follow these guidelines are people with large suburban homes, jobs that let them work from home or take two weeks off, and of course, those who celebrate Christmas.

Even if you do celebrate Christmas and you can afford to isolate for two weeks over the winter break, following the directives would likely be tricky for many Quebecers. A regular-sized dining room gets tight pretty quick with 10 people trying to maintain a good enough distance. That’s if you even have a dining room. 

The ideal candidates for this plan are, unsurprisingly, the least affected by the pandemic, or in some cases those who even benefit from it. When the inevitable surge of cases arrives circa Jan. 9, those who suffer will be the frontline workers left behind by this plan.

People are going to celebrate holidays no matter what. Some will do it safely, others less so. As Quebec continues to struggle to contain the second wave, what we need is a government willing to be the grinch if it means saving lives, not one looking for opportunities to signal its loyalties.

Compliance with public health directives will never be absolute, but policies that seem to go against the current wisdom will only breed cynicism and complacency. Messaging in a pandemic must be clear and consistent. This is neither.

The only message that’s clear and consistent here is that Quebec is a place mainly for those who fit into the CAQ’s xenophobic vision of a Quebecer.