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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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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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Halfway to the Oscars: Quebec directors react to making shortlists


You know your day can only get better when you start off by getting run over by an Uber Eats bicycle.

Montrealer Theodore Ushev was out for his morning jog Monday in Paris when the incident occurred. He emerged relatively unscathed, and by evening his NFB-produced film The Physics of Sorrow had been shortlisted in the Oscar category of best animated short.

“I still cannot realize if it’s real or not,” he said, reached on his cellphone shortly after the news broke. It was past midnight for Ushev, but he had already written off sleeping.

Fellow Montrealer Meryam Joobeur was in her family’s hometown, Seyada, Tunisia, when she learned her film Brotherhood had made the shortlist for best live action short. She, too, was having trouble processing her good fortune.

“It’s really surreal,” Joobeur said. “I feel like the whole journey of this film is very surreal. When I was making the film, my only intention was to be able to show it to the community who helped make it. I didn’t think about how it would impact others. The fact that it has gone this far is pretty crazy, to tell you the truth.”

Ushev and Joobeur are now halfway to the Oscars. The Physics of Sorrow and Brotherhood were culled from pools of 92 films and 191 films, respectively, to reach their respective 10-title shortlists. Each now has a 50-50 chance of ending up in the group of five nominees in their respective categories.

Ushev has been here before. His eight-minute film Blind Vaysha was nominated for an Oscar in 2016.

“That year, we lost to Pixar,” he said. “Luckily this year Pixar didn’t make it, so we are going to lose to someone else.”

Jokes aside, his previous Oscar experience didn’t make the wait any easier.

“This year, I felt like it was much more difficult, because this film is much more personal,” Ushev said.

 

A brooding exploration of love, loss and the meaning of home, The Physics of Sorrow is the first animated film made using the encaustic painting technique. Ushev, a Bulgarian immigrant who came to Quebec in 1999, says it’s dedicated to his father, who died in December 2018.

Fittingly, he recruited another father-son team for the project. The filmmaker convinced Rossif Sutherland to lend his striking baritone to the film, and Sutherland in turn convinced his father, Donald, to contribute a secondary voice-over.

 

Launched at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, The Physics of Sorrow has been racking up the accolades since.

“Up to now, it has won 16 (festival) prizes in only three months,” Ushev said. “It’s going extremely well.”

There’s still a way to go before the Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 13, and Ushev isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“No one knows what’s going to happen,” he said, “but I’ll be very happy if we end up speaking again in a month.”

Monday was a doubly good day for Joobeur. Just a few hours before the Oscar shortlist announcements, Quebec funding agency SODEC announced that her feature film Motherhood was among the new projects it had chosen to support.

Joobeur was in Tunisia doing research for the Motherhood, which is based on Brotherhood’s dramatic tale of a Muslim couple in the Tunisian countryside who must adapt to the return of one of their sons from fighting in Syria.

 

The film has screened at 150 festivals in 48 countries, winning 63 prizes since its premiere at TIFF in September, 2018, where it was named best Canadian short.

For Joobeur, all the accolades are confirmation that she’s on the right path.

“Going into Brotherhood, I decided to change my way of approaching filmmaking,” she said. “I decided to listen to my instincts, to let go of any pressures I had regarding success or festival acceptance, and just enjoy the process.”

It’s potentially the second straight Oscar nomination for Brotherhood co-producer Maria Gracia Turgeon, who also produced Jeremy Comte’s Fauve, one of two Quebec films nominated for best live action short at the 2019 Academy Awards.

“Firstly, it’s due to the fact that both Fauve and Brotherhood are wonderful films,” said Turgeon, who is also working with Joobeur on Motherhood.

The two spoke Monday night.

“It’s a lot of excitement,” Turgeon said. “We were trying not to think about it, and to say it probably won’t happen so we didn’t have expectations. But when the news finally comes, it’s hard not to be excited.”

There is one other NFB co-produced film in the animated short category: Portuguese filmmaker Regina Pessoa’s Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days.

Montrealer Paul Cadieux, of Filmoption International, also had cause to celebrate, as Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche’s film Advocate, a film he co-produced about Israeli human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel, was shortlisted for best documentary feature.

The 92nd Academy Awards take place Feb. 9.

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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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