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Legault Is Facing Major Heat For His Refusal To Give Homeless Quebecers A Curfew Exemption

The premier is facing off with Mayor Plante and now a federal minister, too.

Premier François Legault is facing off with a growing number of opponents on the issue of giving homeless people a Quebec curfew exemption following the tragic death of Raphael André, a homeless man who passed away outside during curfew hours in the night of January 16.

After Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante publicly requested such an exemption, the premier shut down the idea during a press conference on January 19. 

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It's necessary to show more humanity.

Marc Miller

Legault claimed that "if we put in the rules that a homeless person can't get a ticket, anyone could say 'I'm homeless, so you can't give me a ticket.'"

Both he and Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault have stated that officers are encouraged to use their discretion when it comes to enforcing the curfew, including, according to Guilbault, accompanying homeless Quebecers to shelters rather than fining them.

"I'm very confident in our police officers," Legault added on January 19. "I think that the police have had good judgment with the homeless. Let's let them continue to work."

On Wednesday, Mayor Plante reiterated her request for an exemption in an Instagram story.

Opposition parties in the National Assembly have also added to the chorus of calls for a new curfew exception for homeless Quebecers.

Québec Solidaire spokesperson Manon Massé has been particularly vocal on social media.

"François Legault still refuses to exempt homeless people from curfew," she wrote on Twitter on January 19. "What a lack of compassion!"

"No one wants to pretend to be homeless, their situation is not envied."

She called the refusal evidence of the "CAQ's disconnection with the reality of the street."

On Wednesday, federal Minister for Indigenous Services Marc Miller added his voice, saying in a press conference that he shares Mayor Plante's position.

"I would have liked to have seen more flexibility on the part of the premier of Quebec," Miller said.

He encouraged Legault to show more "humanity."

"The phenomenon of homelessness didn't start with COVID, [but] COVID exacerbated the precarious situation of the homeless."