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Quebec puts four more regions under alert as Legault warns of lockdowns


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QUEBEC — Premier François Legault hardened the tone Tuesday, slapping a COVID-19 pre-alert status on four more regions and warning parts of Quebec are close to the next more critical level, which will mean closing bars and restaurants.

Warning there is a now “a real risk” of a second wave that would mean the return of various levels of lockdowns, Legault said he does not understand why some people are still ignoring warnings — even holding fall barbecues and corn boils with large groups or gathering in restaurants.

In the long run, the community virus spread that ensues will mean more hospitalizations, more overcrowding, more disruptions in people’s lives and ultimately more deaths.

“The situation is critical, it is worrisome,” Legault said at a pandemic news conference as the National Assembly resumed sitting.

“Today I am making an appeal for the solidarity. Please think of vulnerable people, think of those waiting for surgery, think of those working in the health system, think of our children.



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Analysis: CAQ minister plans to reinforce French language


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QUEBEC — It was Simon Jolin-Barrette’s summer reading in 2019: a biography on the life of Camille Laurin, the man considered to be the father of the Charter of the French Language.

Written by former journalist Jean-Claude Picard — who recently died — the book describes Laurin as a man who saw the charter and protection of French as a tool toward the social liberation of Quebec’s francophones.

In other words, Laurin was a staunch nationalist (who as a member of the Parti Québécois also favoured independence).

Camille Laurin, who served as Cultural Development minister in the first Parti Québécois government and is considered the father of the Charter of the French Language, is seen here in a 1977 photo.
Camille Laurin, who served as Cultural Development minister in the first Parti Québécois government and is considered the father of the Charter of the French Language, is seen here in a 1977 photo. Photo by Garth Pritchard /Montreal Gazette

Today, 43 years after the adoption of the charter by the PQ, Jolin-Barrette finds himself in the same job, the Quebec minister responsible for language. He, too, plans to unveil his own vision, a new “action plan” that he says will reinforce French in Quebec.

How far will he go and when? The pandemic and economic downturn may affect the timing and scope of the plan, particularly if it implies slapping more red tape on struggling small-business owners. The Legault government may want to hold off before launching a new controversy.



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Search for diver who disappeared after jumping off a cliff into a Quebec lake – Montreal



The search resumed Sunday morning with the help of divers from the Sûreté du Québc (SQ), to find a swimmer who dived into a lake in Harrington in the Laurentians and hasn’t been seen since his friends lost sight of him.

Police were notified at around 6 p.m. on Saturday that a young man in his 20s was missing after an outing with friends at Grand MacDonald Lake near Deer Head Road.

READ MORE: St-Lazare family raises awareness about pool safety; Quebec sees spike in drownings

“He allegedly jumped off a cliff into Lake MacDonald. He later surfaced and swam back to their boat, but his friends lost sight of him and he hasn’t been seen since,” said Valérie Beauchamp, spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec.

Firefighters searched the water with their boats all evening while SQ patrollers scoured the shores and surroundings of the lake, but to no avail. The search was suspended around 8:45 p.m. and resumed in daylight on Sunday, this time with the help of SQ divers.

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Quebec names female civilian to lead Sûreté du Québec



Quebec Public Security Minister ⁦Geneviève Guilbault, left, introduces Johanne Beausoleil, the new interim head of ⁦
Sûreté du Québec, to the media in Quebec City on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.


Twitter / Montreal Gazette

QUEBEC — For the first time in Quebec’s history, a woman will lead the Sûreté du Québec, which is getting its third chief in less than a year.

On Wednesday, the Quebec cabinet named a rare civilian, Johanne Beausoleil, to the post of associate director-general of the force starting Dec. 2 for a three-year period. That also allows the government to name her director-general on an interim basis.

Currently working for the Montreal police force but a former internal auditor of the SQ, Beausoleil starts her new job Dec. 16.

The announcement was made by Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault.

“We have a choice candidate,” Guilbault said at a news conference, where she was joined by Beausoleil. “Mme Beausoleil has all the qualifications to occupy this post. She is well aware of the challenges that the provincial police is facing.”

Added Beausoleil: “The biggest challenge is to mobilize resources and continue to work in this direction. It is also to encourage more female officers to apply, to be more present (in the force); it will be my pleasure to encourage this.”

Beausoleil becomes the second interim director named by the government this year in the wake of the sudden departure of Martin Prud’homme under a cloud of mystery nine months ago.

He was relieved of duty by Guilbault, who said she had a duty to act following allegations of a criminal nature against Prud’homme.

Prud’homme has not been arrested or charged with anything and is home earning a full salary pending the results of the investigation, which has been turned over to the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI).

There have been reports the suspension is connected to the leak of information at the province’s anti-corruption unit (UPAC).

Following Prud’homme’s departure, the government put Mario Bouchard in charge of the force, but Bouchard has announced plans to move up his planned retirement to mid-December, so Quebec had to act.

Bouchard recommended Beausoleil for the job.

It is not known how long Beausoleil will be in the position — she has an open mandate as interim director-general — or whether she may be asked or will apply to be the permanent leader of the force should Prud’homme not be cleared or not return.

“This is not what is being asked of me,” Beausoleil said when asked by reporters if she’s interested in the job. “And this is a hypothetical question. We are not at this stage yet.”

Her arrival was welcomed starting at the top by Premier François Legault, who was asked if appointing a civilian to the strategic post is an advantage.

“There are pros, there are cons,” Legault told reporters earlier. “What’s important is that the person shows leadership, that she be accepted by the employees of the SQ, that she be someone who has a proven track record in managing personnel.”

Beausoleil said she does not see an obstacle by the fact she is not a police officer and is taking over a force that has traditionally been run like a military operation.

“I don’t see this (no police status) as a challenge,” Beausoleil said. “It think it’s a question of competency, much more than a question of sex or civil status.”

The opposition parties had no objections to the nomination, but interim Liberal Leader Pierre Arcand returned to the Prud’homme departure question.

“It’s not normal that after all this time, after a person is removed from their functions, that this person not know exactly where he stands,” Arcand said.

Born in Montreal, Beausoleil, 56, has degrees from the Université du Québec à Montréal and a masters in public administration from the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP).

Although she will be seen as an outside bureaucrat in the SQ, Beausoleil worked there for four years as an internal auditor where she was responsible for ethics and evaluation of programs for the top brass.

She also has 27 years experience working for Quebec’s correctional services, including five years as a deputy public security minister for correctional services.

There have been two civilian bureaucratic heads of the SQ in the past: Guy Coulombe, a top “go-to” mandarin on tough issues in 1996, and Florent Gagné, another bureaucrat, in 2003.

Under a new law, the full-time head of the force has to be voted on by two-thirds of MNAs in the legislature.

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Twitter.com/philipauthier





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