Legault getting sensitive doctor data through emergency powers is 'authoritarian,' Liberals say

Premier François Legault misused the decree power available to him in Quebec's state of health emergency when he used it to obtain information on family doctors, according to Liberal leader Dominique Anglade.

Anglade decried what she called an abuse of power on Thursday after Health Minister Christian Dubé admitted his government had obtained sensitive data on doctors, thanks in part to the state of emergency.

"We are facing an abuse of power," she said. "This is a blatant example of what should not be done in our democracy, and it should justify lifting this health emergency."

Legault said this week that he wanted to share with regional health authorities the names of doctors who are not working enough to satisfy him.

He hinted that he would also bypass the family physicians' union, the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ), and raised the threat of penalties for a "minority" of doctors.

In a press scrum, Anglade criticized the premier for his "authoritarian" and "bulldozing" approach to the issue of negotiations with family doctors, which has nothing to do with COVID-19.

"The emergency decree allows extraordinary powers in an extraordinary situation. Here the premier, François Legault, decided to use the decree to obtain information," she said.

"He shouldn't be using that information the way he does, and that's why I'm saying it's an abuse of power," she said.

The Parti Québécois (PQ) said, for its part, that it is thinking of appealing to the Ethics Commissioner to get that office to shed light on the way in which the information on the doctors was obtained.

"There can be a drift if we use the law on health measures to circumvent the regular laws in a negotiation process," warned the PQ's parliamentary leader, Joël Arseneau.

Quebec Solidaire spokesperson Manon Massé reiterated her demand for the Legault government to adopt a transitional law to help it get out of the state of health emergency.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 28, 2021.

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