Arruda is falling into ruin from the disastrous fifth wave that pulverizes Quebec.

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The most remarkable thing about Dr. Horacio Arruda’s resignation letter as Quebec’s national director of public health, presented on Monday, is that he did not announce his resignation so much but gave Prime Minister François Legault license to fire him as charges rise. criticism of the government.

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“In this context, I see fit to offer you the possibility of replacing me before the end of my term,” Arruda wrote. “Do not see this act as an abandonment on my part, but the opportunity to reassess the situation after several waves and in a context of constant evolution.”

In other words, he was willing to stay or go as his boss saw fit.

And after 22 months, Legault gave Arruda the old push. He had been in office since 2012 but came into the limelight as the prime minister’s right-hand man at the start of the pandemic. Now more than a political responsibility, Arruda takes charge of the disastrous fifth wave that pulverizes Quebec.

As accolades rained down praising Arruda’s tireless service and unwavering devotion, accolades he deserves whether people always agree with him or not, Legault made it appear that the good doctor was exhausted, exhausted, and bowed under the breath. pressure of his formidable duties.

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But as his letter attests, Arruda was a loyal foot soldier to the end, upholding the prime minister’s judgment, including on his own fate.

That acquiescence may have been Arruda’s biggest flaw as the chief scientific advisor in the room during this protracted and unprecedented crisis. If it initially seemed like it was slow to keep up with rapidly changing public health practices (for example, its reluctance to recommend wearing masks), more recent concerns centered on whether Arruda was shaping his advice to suit goals. by Legault.

Despite the obvious warning signs about the emerging Omicron variant, Arruda signed (somewhat reluctantly to his credit) at the big Christmas gatherings the prime minister wanted to give away to Quebecers. They were eventually reduced, but not before the damage was done, not before the new variant unleashed chaos in the healthcare system, the number of cases skyrocketed, and the government had to crack down with another curfew, business closure and online school change. Arruda is paying the price for this disaster.

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The conundrum at the heart of Quebec’s emergency management is that Legault claims that it always listens to public health when determining a course of action. But at the end of the day, it is not public health that decides: it is Legault. The analyzes end up serving as a cover. But when things go wrong, advisers become a convenient contrast to divert attention from the mistakes of leaders rather than hold politicians accountable for their choices.

There have been questions about the lack of separation between church and state, or independent evidence-based councils and policies in this case, with Arruda and Legault popping up together day after day. It hinted at a symbiotic relationship rather than autonomous actors fulfilling their distinct but interconnected roles.

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Because of this dynamic, perhaps things were always destined to end this way – with Arruda becoming disposable once he was no longer useful.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that change is coming. If another Yes Man (or Woman) is named as Arruda’s replacement, it will only mean that a new person will be put on the bench to justify Legault’s agenda in the months leading up to the fall elections. The job can get even more difficult.

Dr. Luc Boileau has been appointed in the interim. Most recently, he served as director of the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux and previously of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec. Both agencies are at the forefront in advising the government and in projecting the course of the pandemic. Boileau clearly has the necessary knowledge and experience. But does he have the backbone to stand up to Legault?

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Questioned by journalists in his first outing alongside the Premier, Boileau said that independence will be key in his new position. But he declined to review any of the administration’s previous controversial decisions or say how his approach will differ from Arruda’s. Nor was it mentioned that his daughter is the press attaché of the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé. .

Meanwhile, Legault dismissed calls from the opposition to expand its advisory committee or demand that the new national director of public health publish explanations for specific recommendations. So much for transparency.

What Quebecers need is a Dr. No who has the courage to challenge Legault. We need someone like Dr. Joanne Liu, former international president of Doctors Without Borders, who has been a fierce critic of the government; or Dr. Mylène Drouin, Montreal’s regional director of public health, who has managed to forge her own path on the tightrope that she is forced to walk as a state employee.

Quebecers need someone to speak truth to power. Good luck with that.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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