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1) Since Premier @francoislegault commented today on his decision to block me on Twitter, I feel it is appropriate to elaborate on my earlier tweet. In this thread, I will comment on the Premier’s latest remarks about me.
2) At 1:34 p.m. today, the Premier responded to a “question mark” tweet by one of the preeminent political columnists of our times, @ChantalHbert, on his decision to block me. In French, Legault wrote that “when a ‘journalist’ tags me on Twitter 10 times saying I’m lying…”
3) Please let me correct the record. I have never accused Legault of lying. I suspect the Premier is alluding to both a tweet and a news story on May 11 in which I wrote that “contrary to @francoislegault’s claims Monday, Quebec is far short of its COVID testing goal.”
4) I urge anyone to review my tweets and news stories, and to find a statement in which I wrote that the Premier is lying to the people of Quebec. I was asked specifically about this by @sophiedurocher on her radio show.
5) I responded to Sophie and to her listeners that I never accused Legault of lying, but the testing figures speak for themselves. I suggested perhaps that he was not being informed properly. Ultimately, the Premier acknowledged the #COVID testing numbers were low.
6) Justifiably, the Premier ordered the health department to carry out more tests to get a better idea of how the #pandemic is spreading in Quebec. In this sense, I believe I was doing my job as a journalist, holding the province’s highest-elected official to account.
7) I readily acknowledge that my reporting on the Legault government’s handling of the #pandemic has been hard-hitting, as has the journalism of my colleagues at @LP_LaPresse, @iciradiocanada and many other news organizations.
8) Still, on April 17, I tweeted: “We’re all aching for better news. So is the premier, who unlike @realDonaldTrump, said today he accepts full responsibility for things that have gone wrong in Quebec’s fight against the #pandemic. For this, @francoislegault is to be commended.”
9) On May 14, I tweeted: “The Premier is to be commended for coming to Montreal and reversing his decision to reopen schools on May 25, in the face of overwhelming evidence that the #pandemic is far from over in the city.”
10) These two tweets suggest I’m being open-minded, as a journalist should be. On Jan. 23, I wrote an article in the @mtlgazette that strongly implied that Legault took prudent action when he served as health minister back in 2003. Below are the quotes:
11) “In Quebec, the SARS crisis had prompted François Legault, who was health minister at the time under the Parti Québécois government, to decide that the Montreal General Hospital should stay put and not move to the future superhospital of the McGill University Health Centre.
12) “The rationale was that should a similar epidemic strike a hospital in the city, authorities would be able to respond better by keeping the Montreal General in place.” That article reported accurately and positively on Legault’s actions in the aftermath of the SARS epidemic.
13) Some people following my nightly Twitter threads have argued that they are relentlessly critical. I think they act as an antidote to the “Ça va bien aller” optimism often espoused by the Premier, especially during the peak of the #pandemic.
14) I was equally critical of Quebec’s former health minister, @drgbarrette, and especially his controversial “CIUSSS-CISSS” reform of the system. I know Dr. Barrette really didn’t appreciate some of my coverage. But I felt he did at least respect me as a journalist.
15) I’m grateful to the thousands who've started following this thread during the #pandemic: everyday Quebecers, Francophone and Anglophone, who are thirsting for an independent daily update on the situation in Montreal. That’s what's I’ve been doing, 7 days a week, for months.
16) Apparently, the Premier used to follow my reporting, too, at least from the comments he made at a news conference on May 13. Obviously, it’s Mr. Legault’s prerogative not to read me anymore. But you have my assurance I will be reading him. End of thread.
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