Quebec always promises, for its part, two family reunions whenever possible. The plan is detailed, but the details keep changing. It’s not black or white, says François Legault. Quarantine is no longer mandatory. Use good judgment. At the same time, the moral contract could fall apart if the curve does not weaken.
For Doug Ford, the risk is too great, the evolution of COVID-19 cases too volatile. By avoiding getting wet, he avoids a hot potato.
It must be said that the
Christmas plan no longer obsesses Quebeckers. The issue dominates the political panels and press briefings of François Legault. After months of sacrifices, Quebec badly needs to breathe.
In Ontario? Quasi-radio silence. Unlike their Quebec counterparts, the subject is of little interest to journalists at the Queen’s Park press gallery or the major Toronto dailies. The news is almost gone.
Few people were holding their breath anyway. The evolution of cases remains very precarious. Hospitals are overflowing in Peel and the balance is fragile elsewhere. Ontarians seem to understand that it is premature to make any predictions for Christmas.
However, the situation is hardly better in Quebec. Cases
explode no more in Ontario than in Quebec, despite what some political commentators say. Hospitals outside of Greater Montreal risk overflowing during the holiday season, according to INESSS.
Are Ontarians more docile, less impatient? Perhaps. François Legault had to bend under the pressure and give answers to Quebecers, even if it means readjust the shot. Same thing in several European countries. Doug Ford, he left the carrot because a moral contract would have caused him headaches.
Is Christmas cancelled?
Many more Ontarians than Quebeckers celebrate Hanukkah, Divali and the Chinese New Year, especially in the greater Toronto suburbs. These communities, which voted overwhelmingly for Doug Ford, would have cried injustice. Of course, they did it in Quebec, but that was not going to shake François Legault.
Doug Ford, a devout Catholic, is much more sensitive to religious rights. But he is also trying to avoid the communication flops that have embarrassed him since March.
At Easter, Doug Ford banned travel between regions, but went to his cabin to check the condition of his plumbing. On Mother’s Day, he welcomed two of his adult daughters to his home. And on Thanksgiving, he encouraged gatherings of 10 people, only to change his mind. Ontarians have rallied anyway and cases of COVID-19 have increased.
Ontarians less breathless
Presumably, Ontarians may have been less anxious to have answers quickly for Christmas, because they were allowed to congregate until recently, even in hot areas.
In Toronto and Peel, people have only been confined since Monday and small outdoor gatherings are still permitted. Elsewhere in Ontario, people can still accommodate up to 10 people indoors, although this is not recommended.
However, public opinion may change as the holidays approach. Whether in Ontario or Quebec, people need to come together as a family more than ever.
A local Toronto radio station relayed to Doug Ford on Thursday a question from the public that will come back often in the coming weeks:
It may be my 93 year old mother’s last Christmas. Will I be punished if I invite her to my home on December 25?
If everyone did this it would be a disaster in our retirement homes, replied the Prime Minister, avoiding answering the thorny second part of the question. If Doug Ford remains adamant, however, some might criticize him for lacking in humanity.
The opposition in Queen’s Park is already accusing him of having ruined Christmas by seeking to lift sanitary measures too early. It is a real possibility that the confinement will be extended until January and that he will be forced to maintain the hard line.
It is certainly a harsher message, which perhaps does not take seriously the distress some families will have of not being able to reunite. notes the political scientist at the Royal Military College of Canada, Stéphanie Chouinard.
The Legault government trusts the people. We give them an exhaust valve and we hope they will stick with what we give them. Doug Ford’s approach is more suspicious. Will the population feel more respected in Ontario or Quebec? The success of one approach or another will be calculated after the holidays., she says.
One indeed risks winning his bet. And the other, to lose it and suffer from the comparison.
The Doug Ford who stole Christmas
The elephant in the room remains: people will gather anyway. François Legault has chosen to accept this fact publicly. Doug Ford is dancing around the question. Maybe he’s worried that if he gives an inch, people will get a kick out.
His firm is thinking behind the scenes to relax certain rules in two weeks, such as reopening hair salons. He still keeps the map of gatherings in his game if the evolution of the cases allows it. His team observes what is happening in Quebec and makes the calculation that it is wiser to wait.
After all, it’s better to give a surprise gift at the last minute than to be the one who stole Christmas after promising it with great fanfare.