In this afternoon’s press conference, Quebec Premier François Legault expressed belated condolences following the death of Raphaël André on the weekend, and accused the media and other critics of sowing division on the topic of the homeless, the police and the curfew. He did not back down on the issue of amnesty for the homeless during the curfew.
“I was moved, as is the case for everyone, by the death of Mr. André. This is not a normal situation in such a wealthy society as ours for anyone to die in a chemical toilet. It’s not normal and we’re all moved by that. I would like to take advantage of this opportunity, to all the Innu community and the population, to give them my condolences. There’s work to be done so that people are treated the same way as all citizens.
“I want to come back to the work of police officers. Police officers knows the reality that homeless people face. Most of the time they know them individually. Police officers are not having fun giving fines to homeless people just for the sake of it. No, police officers understand that homeless people don’t have the means to pay those fines, they don’t do it on purpose. Their goal is to bring them into a warmer setting, and some of them don’t want to go to those shelters.
“As a premier, my role is to find the right balance to enable police officers to enforce measures like the ones pertaining to the curfew. The curfew saves lives and this measure, we hope, will help us save our health network. So what we’re trying to do, what we’ve been trying to do since the beginning, is just save homeless people. We have hundreds of shelters and as we see there’s a greater need for those places, we will do that more. We started vaccinating homeless people also.
“It is quite unfortunate to see that some people are trying to divide us. They are trying to say that there are good people and evil people; some people love homeless people, some people hate them — no, not at all. We all want to help homeless people. This is a complex situation. Now is not the time to divide ourselves; now is the time to work together.”