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Petition opposes COVID-19 measures in CAQ government’s Bill 61

Ouellette provides support after Groulx MNA Éric Girard ignores request

Chomedey Independent MNA Guy Ouellette has decided to lend his support to a petition started by a woman from a neighbouring riding who opposes Bill 61 – a CAQ government COVID-19 emergency piece of legislation – after her own MNA, CAQ Finance Minister Éric Girard, wouldn’t provide help.

Bill 61, an omnibus piece of legislation (meaning essentially it contains extra measures not necessarily related to the main purpose) was first tabled in the National Assembly on May 31.

Ouellette pleased with injunction forcing immigration dossier process
Chomedey Independent MNA Guy Ouellette.

Avoiding scrutiny

The most important element would essentially allow the CAQ government to take measures deemed necessary in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 without first having to subject Bill 61 to the scrutiny of the National Assembly.

“If the bill had been presented before May 15, the government wouldn’t have needed to ask for unanimous permission of the opposition to move forward,” Ouellette said in an interview with the Laval News, describing parliamentary protocol in the assembly. “But because it was presented on May 31, they need permission at every step.”

‘Free pass,’ says Ouellette

Among other things, said Ouellette, Bill 61 will allow the government to enforce the measures continuously and without having to return to the National Assembly every 10 days. “The government wants to have a free pass, unlimited time to act,” he said.

This would not only give the government almost unlimited power, but would also provide the government with the possibility of giving out optional contracts. “It means they won’t be accountable to the National Assembly,” Ouellette said. “Because it’s a majority government, they want to do this fast.”

None on Assembly website

The petition was started by Élizabeth Dufresne-Gagnon on the Change.org website where it had garnered nearly 200,000 signatures by last week. However, to submit a petition to the National Assembly, it must have been signed on the Assembly’s website.

‘With this petition, we wish to send a clear message to the government regarding the opposition of citizens to Bill 61,’ says Ouellette

Thus, according to Ouellette, the text of the original petition was reworked to make it conform. The sponsoring petitioner considered that Bill 61 infringed on fundamental freedoms. “Regardless of who is in government, Quebeckers can’t grant Mr. Legault or any other such power, without time constraint,” Dufresne-Gagnon said in a statement issued by Ouellette’s office.

No to dictatorship, Ouellette says

“You can’t revive an economy by setting up a dictatorship for an indefinite period of time and procuring yourself additional judicial immunity,” she added. “It is also undemocratic to want to pass a law that would allow the government to change any law.”

According to the statement from Ouellette’s office, Ouellette agreed to table Dufresne-Gagnon’s petition “in order to clearly demonstrate to Prime Minister Legault the opposition of the population to his Bill 61. Last June, the bill failed to be adopted by the National Assembly.” However, “Mr. Legault did not miss the opportunity to let everyone know that he would come back to the charge with Bill 61 in the fall,” it added.

Sending a clear message

“Faced with the declaration of Prime Minister Legault, it is necessary to revive citizen mobilization against Bill 61,” said Ouellette. “With this petition, we wish to send a clear message to the government regarding the opposition of citizens to Bill 61.”

Although Élizabeth Dufresne-Gagnon lives in Sainte-Thérèse in the riding of Groulx, Ouellette said she approached him for help after being ignored by Groulx MNA Éric Girard’s office. “She wrote to his office and didn’t receive any answer,” he said. “So she called me.”

The petition opposing Bill 61 is available for signature on the National Assembly’s website until September 13. It can be found here: https://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition8457/index.html.

Martin C. Barry
Martin C. Barryhttp://www.lavalnews.ca
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the Laval News. During his 23 years of covering political and community issues in the Montreal region, Marty has won numerous journalism awards from the Quebec Community Newspapers Association for written coverage as well as for photography. marty@newsfirst.ca

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