News Photo Essay

Picketers lead ‘shame convoy’ with Legault mannequin

Photos from Thursday: ‘Shame Convoy’

Photos from Wednesday: Classroom picketing


Quebec elections: CAQ wins a majority government

Graphic by Carleen Loney

The votes are in. Coalition Avenir Québec will remain in power until 2026

François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) has been elected for a second mandate as the Quebec premier with a majority government and will remain in power until 2026. 

The CAQ won 41 per cent of the vote and 90 seats in the National Assembly, the most seats any party has ever won in Quebec since 1989. This marked an increase of 16 seats since the 2018 elections. 

“We had a clear message. Quebecers sent a powerful message. Quebecers told us: let’s continue!” shouted Legault during his victory speech. 

The voter turnout was also slightly lower than in 2018. 66.07 per cent of Quebecers voted this year, compared to 66.45 per cent in 2018. 

Here’s what you need to know about the CAQ’s promises for its second mandate: 


  • Reduce the annual threshold of immigrants from 70,000 to 50,000 for the next four years
  • Invest  $130 million to make it easier for immigrants to have their professional skills acquired abroad recognized


  • Additional $2 billion over four years to renovate and update schools, besides
  • Investment of $348 million in vocational training to help address the labour shortage

Climate change: 

  • Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37.5 per cent below 1990 levels 
  • Wants to reach carbon neutrality by 2050

Health care:

  • Open two private clinics in underserviced areas of Montreal’s east end and Quebec city
  • Investment of $400 million to train and recruit 660 more physicians and 5,000 other health professionals

Cost of living: 

  • $600 will be given to Quebecers making less than $50,000 annually
  • $400 to those earning between $50,000 and $100,000
  • Annual allowance up to $2,000 to people aged 70 and up

JMSB student starts petition to turn Grey Nuns Residence into temporary homeless shelter

In just four days, the petition collected over 3,000 signatures

After the recent deaths of homeless people in Montreal, David Desjardins, a third-year John Molson School of Business (JMSB) student at Concordia University, wanted to do more than just raise awareness about the city’s growing homelessness crisis.

Since the start of the pandemic, Montreal’s homeless population has increased from a pre-pandemic figure of around 3,000 to hundreds, maybe thousands, more. While experts have not been able to pinpoint the exact figure, the increase has manifested at homeless shelters, with staff reporting that they are operating at full capacity, though this is not enough to adequately serve the city’s increasing homeless population.

Meanwhile, several student residences in the city remain closed due to the pandemic. At Concordia, the Grey Nuns Residence — a heritage student residence and hotel building located near the downtown campus — is closed, with almost 600 beds unoccupied since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

Desjardins decided to call on Concordia University to step in, and started a petition on Jan. 28, directed towards President of Concordia University Graham Carr, to turn the Grey Nuns Residence into a temporary homeless shelter.

Part of Desjardins’ motivation for starting the petition includes believing that “we need to act with urgency to find these people somewhere to stay, at least temporarily, or else we will see bloodshed.”

The petition, which started off with a goal of 150 signatures, currently has over 3,000.

“It’s been pretty impressive, I’m very happy to see all the support we’re getting,” said Desjardins.

In addition to it’s high occupancy rate, the Grey Nuns Residence boasts a cafeteria space, several multipurpose rooms, and 234-seat silent reading room. There are no specific plans on how this space would be used; instead, Desjardins said his petition is meant to get the ball rolling.

He believes new resources made available for the homeless during the pandemic, such as the Old Royal Victoria Hospital being converted to a homeless shelter in August 2020, “was a great first step.”

However, Desjardins believes that, in many ways, efforts to help the homeless have fallen short.

“I wouldn’t even say the government is doing much to be quite frank.”

Since enacting stricter lockdown measures on Jan. 9, Legault did not exempt the homeless population and homeless shelters from the 8 p.m. curfew. That decision not only meant that homeless people could incur fines up to $1,500 for being outside after curfew, but that shelters could no longer accept new clients past the curfew as well.

Even after the death of Raphael “Napa” Andre, a 51-year-old homeless man who froze to death in a portable toilet just a few metres away from a shelter after curfew, Legault said he would continue to refuse exempting the homeless population from curfew regulations.

“You have to understand that if we put in the law that a homeless person cannot get a ticket, well then anyone could say “I’m homeless,” explained Legault.

Severe backlash followed Legault’s stance, with politicians and community members calling on the premier to have compassion towards the homeless. On Jan. 26, a Quebec Superior Court judge reversed Legault’s regulation, ruling the homeless were no longer subject to curfew.

Following the government’s rocky commitment to the issue, Desjardins looked for new solutions to help with the homelessness problem. He believes more organizations and businesses should be willing to help.

“I think that anybody who does not take action in these times where it’s needed, are going to be guilty and are going to have blood on their hands,” said Desjardins.

If the project is approved, Desjardins thinks the university would have to find creative ways to fund the project. While he would allow a portion of his own tuition to fund the project, he believes many students would be against their own tuition being used.

“Once we have a green light, we can look at finding ways to get food, clothing, personal protective equipment … and all kinds of other things that are going to require funding for this project,” said Desjardins.

For now, he has contacted staff from the Grey Nuns Residence, and says he would be open to being involved with the project if it goes forward.

“I’m just doing everything I possibly can to make this happen at the moment,” said Desjardins.


Photograph by Christine Beaudoin

Interview conducted by Hadassah Alencar and edited by Adam Mbowe.


Protest against controversial curfew and increasing police power

Over 100 people gathered to protest against the curfew that is impacting the homeless and potentially giving more power to the police

In response to the rising cases of COVID-19 in Quebec, the provincial government has enacted a controversial curfew, which is seen to negatively impact the homeless and people in poverty. There has been public outcry and protests against the curfew.

The group responsible for the demonstration on Jan. 16, Pas de solution policière à la crise sanitaire, stated the protest was to push back on the increased power being given to the police.

In a press release, the organization stated they do not affiliate with right-wing groups, such as the anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests that have taken place in recent months.

“This demonstration aims to denounce the political choice of Legault’s government to impose a curfew throughout Quebec in response to the increase in cases, by hospitalizations, and deaths related to COVID-19,” read the statement. “After 10 months of a health crisis, the CAQ is again opting for the police solution.”

In a public statement, the group said that the goal of the protest was to denounce the use of police in a public health crisis, and encourage the government to relocate those funds in a more effective manner.

Let us stand in solidarity in the face of police repression, let us learn not to leave anyone behind,” said the statement.

“The police presence really affects the homeless people in a negative way, because they are trying to avoid the police,” said Jessica Quijano, a spokesperson for the Defund the Police Coalition and a member of the Iskweu Project, an initiative of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.

Quijano spoke about the recent death of an Innu man that was living on the streets. According to a CTV article, the man froze to death near the Open Door homeless shelter, which due to the COVID-19 restrictions, was no longer allowed to have clients overnight.

Quijano explained that police presence doesn’t help in a pandemic; she used the criminalization of people during the AIDS crisis as an example.

We can’t trust the police to use their discretion, because we know that the SPVM has a history of racism,” she said.

“At least offer a house to the homeless, and not just shelters, places where people could isolate and be comfortable,” she said, explaining that the best solution to the issue is giving the homeless resources. “Not giving people tickets, not to people that are already in poverty.”

Quijano explained that before the curfew was implemented, there were outbreaks in shelters and homeless people who had tested positive were walking around in public. The curfew has just added to the shelters’ struggles to serve the homeless community in a safe way.

“It makes you really question the legitimacy of the public health [association] when they are making these decisions,” Quijano said.

On Tuesday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante called for homeless people to be exempt from the curfew, but later that day during a COVID-19 press brief, Premier François Legault rejected it, as he believes people would impersonate the homeless to get out of curfew.

The SPVM said in a statement that officers have to show tolerance and judgement in their interventions with the homeless.

“Before giving a ticket, each situation is analyzed in consideration of the specific context and particularities,” read the statement. “If it’s possible, officers can also accompany these persons to the appropriate resources.”

“These are necessary measures to counter the spread of the virus,” said Marie-Louise Harvey, media spokesperson for the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, who explained that the priority of the curfew and the restrictions was to lessen strain on hospitals.

She also stated that while the ministry has no official survey of the population’s view of the curfew, “It does know that a certain percentage of the population is unhappy with the situation.”


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


Concordia closed for two weeks due to COVID-19

François Legault announced a two-week closure for all schools and daycares in the province.

With the number of COVID-19 cases rising in the province and around the world, the Quebec government announced that schools, CEGEPS, universities and daycares will close for at least two weeks.

This came as a relief for Montreal school boards as the previous measures set by the government were practically impossible, said Antoine El Khoury, general director of the Pointe-de-l’Île school board. The government suggested to close down schools from Friday to Sunday as they discussed alternative measures and that all gatherings of more than 250 people be cancelled.

“We have high schools with 2,000 to 3,000 students that need to have lunch,” said El Khoury. “We thought of dividing lunchtime, but that would mean up to eight different time slots. That’s impossible.”

Some teachers announced on Thursday they would not teach for the time being by fear of contracting the virus. “We can’t oblige them to come to school either,” said El Khoury. “We’re also in the middle of a labour shortage, so finding personnel is an issue.”

Horacio Arruda, director of public health at MSSS Quebec, said in a press conference that children are not at risk of the virus and that this closure is to reduce the risk of transmission.

There are 17 confirmed cases in Quebec thus far, and more than 250 under investigation.

Daycare services will be offered for children with parents in the public service domain, namely police officers and health care professionals. School boards have yet to decide which schools will remain open to accommodate these parents.

Parents outside this sector will have to find alternatives for their children.  El Khoury has said that the government has stressed that companies let their employers work from home to take care of their children.

Legault also warned parents that although this decision might inconvenience many, it is necessary to limit the spread of the virus.

Schools are tentatively expected to reopen on March 30. For now, school boards are not worried about catching up on school material.

“The same happened during the ice storm of 1998 and that was not an issue,” said El Khoury. “We are worried that the period might be extended. Then, we might have issues catching up.”

Although he’s not worried about elementary and high schools, El Khoury still believes CEGEPS and universities might have a hard time since their semesters are shorter, and have more material to cover.

A new telephone number was issued after Santé Québec’s 811 received an overwhelming number of calls yesterday. Quebecers can now call 1-877-644-4545 for more information.

Legault also confirmed that daily press conferences are to be expected in order to maintain communication and provide the population with up-to-date information.


Photo by Alex Hutchins


Legault wants to launch the Quebec version of Amazon

Amazon Quebec would better serve “nationalist” clients, according to Quebec’s Premier.

Premier François Legault and Minister of Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon brought up the idea of creating “Amazon Quebec” – an online shopping website like Amazon that would feature only Quebecois merchandise to better serve “nationalist” clients.

Hours before a meeting with Amazon Canada on Nov. 20, Legault told reporters from Presse Canadienne the lack of Quebec products on the amazon platform is a “big concern.” Legault added that he wants to be assured Amazon Canada will not just sell American products to Quebecers.

The idea of an Amazon Quebec isn’t new – Canadian entrepreneur Alexandre Taillefer, who later became the campaign director for the Quebec Liberal Party in 2018, first introduced the idea in 2017, but it never developed.

Fitzgibbon said that he was a fan of the Amazon platform and that a new Quebec version could help the province’s retailers. “We have customers who are nationalists, who like to buy Québécois, so perhaps it’s time we started to look closely at having such a structure,” he told the Presse Canadienne.

Fitzgibbon suggested that the Quebec government could invest in the platform to help it be sustainable, and that the platform could include a homegrown delivery system, so merchandise can be delivered quickly.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced plans to open its first fulfillment centre in Quebec, which will be a warehouse in Lachine and will create 300 full-time jobs in the area. Legault said his priority was to reassure Quebec suppliers that Amazon will not only sell American merchandise to Quebecers.

The opening of the new warehouse has sparked debate, both concerning the working conditions of Amazon factories, and that the online company could undermine local Quebec retail shops.

Stephano Carbonaro, a finance student at the John Molson School of Business, said that while the new jobs will be beneficial, “it’s increasing people buying online items, so you’re not purchasing items locally, so there are pros and cons in this situation,” he said.

A Quebec Amazon could help mitigate the issue of local retail stores losing business to foreign websites.

Angelica Rameau, a journalism student at Concordia said she thought a Quebec Amazon could be positive for the province. “I guess that it could help, if the population wants to know that their products are actually from here,” said Rameau. She would like to actively support local shops when she is shopping online.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


Fighting for a greener planet

The chilly weather did not stop 50 thousand protestors from demanding stricter laws and regulations against climate change from Quebec Premier François Legault’s government on Nov. 10.

“We want to believe that [Legault] will make the environment a top priority, and we want to make sure his actions will match his words,” said Nathalie Roy, a spokesperson of The Planet Goes to Parliament, the non-profit group that organized the march. “Right now, the picture does not seem coherent.”

The Great Climate March began at 2:30 p.m. at Place des Festivals and ended at the Mordecai Richler gazebo in Mount Royal Park two hours later.

“Ceci n’est pas une pipeline” (“This is not a pipeline.”) Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Many participants carried placards with slogans such as, “Change the way you consume,” “Climate Justice. Indigenous Sovereignty” and “All together for our planet.” Throughout the march, demonstrators chanted, “There is no planet B” and “Here and now, for the future of our children.”

According to Roy, one catalyst of the march was the heat wave that killed more than 90 people in Quebec over the summer. “The problem we have is that people seem to treat [natural disasters] as isolated phenomena,” said Roy. “Climate change is happening now, and we can no longer remain in denial.”

The Planet Goes to Parliament made three demands of Legault and his administration, including the development of a provincial climate plan in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and completely eliminate them by 2050. The organization also called on the government to raise awareness about the current climate emergency and threats to biodiversity.

Additionally, the group demanded the government ban new oil and gas exploration and development projects, and put an end to all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies.

“We tend to think that changing our lifestyles is going to be hard,” Roy said. “Maybe changing our lifestyles will improve our quality of life—more time and less work.” Roy added that these changes would include an increased use of public transit and reduced work hours.

Patrick Bonin, a spokesperson for Greenpeace Canada who attended the protest, said his role is to make sure citizens are pressuring the Quebec government to do its part to protect the environment. “We still have time to change, but there’s no more time to waste,” he said.

“I’m melting!” says the Earth on one protestor’s hat. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Bonin said if the government does not take the issue to heart, people will take matters into their own hands. “If they can’t be responsible,” he said, “we will responsibilize them” through non-violent civil disobedience such as sitting in front of the offices of members of parliament and blocking construction and gas exploration projects.Some of the march’s participants spoke about the importance of attending the march and fighting for an eco-friendly economy. Caroline Beyor said she wants to see real changes in her daily life, including a reduction of plastic and more government-run companies at grocery stores.

“I want to be sure what they’re selling me is safe for our planet,” Beyor said. “I want to rely on the government and not on profit.”

: A man holds a sign reading “D’après nous… le deluge?” (“After us… the flood?”) Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Beyor also recommended Montrealers stop buying things they do not or rarely use, and consider going vegan.

“Be the change,” she told The Concordian. “Be the example. You can’t change everybody. Do it yourself, and people will follow.”

Photos by Mackenzie Lad.

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