Conspiracy Theorists, Text Apologies & Karaoke: Another Day In Quebec's National Assembly

There was some serious drama at the National Assembly. 👀

Contributing Writer
Conspiracy Theorists, Text Apologies & Karaoke: Another Day In Quebec's National Assembly

Things got heated at the National Assembly of Quebec's question period on Wednesday when Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette called Liberal MNA Marc Tanguay a "conspiracy theorist" — a comment he later apologized for over text.

The drama started when it was time to debate the renewal of the state of health emergency.

Quebec has continually renewed the health emergency it declared at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, keeping the province in a state of emergency for more than 600 days.

This emergency order grants the government special powers to implement health measures very quickly, passing them as decrees instead of laws, which means they aren't subject to the same process of checks and balances.

The Quebec Liberal Party has challenged the CAQ's use of these decrees in the past with Liberal leader Dominique Anglade calling them "authoritarian." On the day of this particular parliamentary session, she tweeted, "If we can do karaoke, we can restore democracy."

During the question period, Tanguay, the MNA for LaFontaine, spoke critically on the CAQ's use of these powers and asked for a debate in the National Assembly.

"Quebecers have been living under a political regime that has all the powers for 607 days," he said. "A month ago, the premier was saying: The worst of the crisis is behind us [...] that doesn't justify the fact that they are going to renew this."

He continued, "So, what does the CAQ not want Quebecers to know?"

Jolin-Barrette defended the use of emergency decrees to control the pandemic.

"Is the member for LaFontaine aware that there is a virus, COVID-19, previously known as the coronavirus [...] that all measures have been put in place to control the pandemic [...] that there are challenges, Mr. Speaker, throughout the world, including Quebec? Quebec is part of planet Earth," said Jolin-Barrette.

"Is the member for LaFontaine aware of this or [...] does he deny this reality? Does he believe that it is a conspiracy? Is he a conspiracy theorist?"

Liberal house leader André Fortin stepped in to call Jolin-Barrette's remarks a "completely unwarranted attack that deserves an apology" and asked that the word "complotiste," conspiracy theorist in French, be added to a list of unparliamentary terms that are banned from the National Assembly.

François Paradis, president of the National Assembly, didn't formally ban the term but said, "I don't want to hear that term again with respect to any member of the House."

Jolin-Barrette's office confirmed that he later texted Tanguay to offer his apologies.

He apologized again publicly at a National Assembly sitting on Wednesday.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Ilana Belfer
Contributing Writer