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Tough week for the Legault government in the eyes of experts

Resignation of the Dr Arruda, bad polls, surprise announcements to tighten the screw on the unvaccinated: the Legault government has had a tough week. Experts say it’s time to reframe the message.

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“We have the impression that the government is in catch-up mode,” says the director of the Department of Political Science at Laval University, Thierry Giasson.

His colleague from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, Mireille Lalancette, believes that François Legault’s team has just experienced “its worst weeks” in terms of communication since the start of the pandemic.

The government’s troubles began at the end of November, when the Prime Minister said he wanted meetings of 20 to 25 people at Christmas, believes Thierry Giasson. The complete about-face that followed to impose the family bubble created a perfect storm to fuel discontent.

“In the Zooms at Christmas and New Years, people were talking about how they couldn’t see each other. There was probably a lot of discussion, deliberation on recent government decisions that kind of screwed up the holiday season,” he observes.

Then came the curfew, disapproved of by 52% of the population according to a Mainstreet poll, and the changing measures on the isolation of children in daycare centers, rapid tests…

“It’s a bit of a disaster,” says the political scientist.

Moreover, discordant voices are beginning to be heard, notes Marc-André Bodet, also a professor of political science at Laval University, when they were rarer since the start of the crisis.

Review message

For Mireille Lalancette, the departure of the Dr Arruda is an opportunity to review the management of the pandemic. “They communicate too much and for too long,” says the professor of social communication.

“The challenge of crisis communication is consistency and consistency,” she says. Yes, science is changing rapidly, but the professor advises caution before making promises or imposing new measures.

“Ask people to name you three health rules that are in effect at the moment, I don’t think people will be able to answer you,” adds Thierry Giasson.

The three professors recognize, however, that Quebec faces a major challenge: rarely have we seen a crisis stretch over two years, they note.

Some advice from experts in the Legault government

  • Put in place simple and constant measures
  • Communicate less and better
  • Avoid trying to please at all costs
  • Beware of promises that are hard to keep
  • Do not try to convince the last recalcitrants

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