• On Instagram, Quebec Premier François Legault documented a weekend stroll through Quebec City with his wife, Isabelle Brais.
  • The social media post is just the latest demonstration in what appears to be a longer effort on the part of the Premier to show a more human side during the crisis.
  • But whether these moments will shape the public's long-term perception of Legault's handling of the crisis — and even his political legacy — remains to be seen.

Over the weekend, Quebec Premier François Legault took a break from his command of the province's COVID-19 response to take a stroll through Quebec City with his wife, Isabelle Brais. The couple shared photos of the outing on their separate Instagram pages. "It's good to get some fresh air!" the Premier captioned his post. "Quebecers are so nice and encouraging!" 

The two posts have garnered hundreds of comments, most of which praise Legault for this demonstration of humanity as well as his performance throughout the crisis.

The photos also speak to what appears to be a larger effort on the part of the Premier to show a more human side during the crisis.

He has regularly extolled the virtues of short walks for mental and physical health while extensive restrictions on movement confine people across the province in their own homes.

"You'd have to be out of touch not to see that there are people who are tired of being home right now," he said on April 21.

"I think denying that would be denying reality. Now it's like the lesser evil. We also don't want these people to suddenly go out and start seeing other people, and then have the spread [of the virus] multiply over the next few weeks."

"It is possible, as I have often said, to go for a walk, to stand two metres away from other people, to wash your hands. So there are ways to get out of the house while respecting certain rules to prevent the spread."

The April 26 Instagram post was just the latest demonstration in a long line of moments in which Legault has appeared to open up to the public.

On multiple occasions since mid-March, he has offered rare glimpses of his private life.

"You have to do some exercise, so have a walk, but, sometimes, a glass of wine may help," he advised Quebecers on March 27.

"It's not easy what we're going through right now."

"For entrepreneurs, for workers, for our seniors, for our families and our children, it is stressful. That is normal. We understand that. We have to remember that it is temporary." 

"What is reassuring is that we are all in this together. We're going to help each other. It's going to be okay."

In his addresses, he has used increasingly emphatic and emotional language.

In response to a shortage of staff at CHSLDs, for example, he offered an "appeal to [health care workers'] sense of duty to help us protect the most vulnerable."

"We need you," he declared.

On another occasion, when Google data that showed strong adherence to social distancing regulations in Quebec, Legault said he was "very proud."

"The state that respects the guidelines the most is Quebec. I am really proud of Quebecers, proud to see these results."

There have been moments of levity, too.

The Premier appears to have had a particularly difficult time breaking the habit of coughing into his hand, a practice that public health officials discourage.

On April 8, he finally caught himself, vowing with a smirk to cough into his elbow "next time."

But whether these moments will shape the public's long-term perception of Legault's handling of the crisis — and even his political legacy — remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for more news.

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