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Mr. Legault, let’s be pragmatic. Prevention is far less costly than treatment.

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Everyone knows that when a serious illness hits, monetary wealth doesn’t guarantee a recovery.

The logic is the same on a larger scale: even the wealthiest nations were not able to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and are struggling to manage it.

We must come to terms with the fact that we are very small in the face of the vagaries of nature. A tiny virus can upend everything.

Governing with strictly economic principles does not make us stronger. On the contrary, it creates an illusion. The economy is powerful, but it is not viable if it’s disconnected from humans and nature.

We are vulnerable

If there is one profound lesson that our government should learn from the current context, it is to recognize our vulnerability to nature. Being humble is an important first step that gives way to openness and listening.

In recent days, the government has been talking about stimulus. We’ve been awaiting these announcements with great interest, expecting this pandemic to be considered an incredible learning opportunity. We expected that these lessons would guide our government to ensuring that we are protected from the next crisis that experts around the world have predicted: the climate crisis.

With Bill 61, the government is going down the wrong path by assuming exceptional powers to speed up the deployment of major infrastructure projects. Investing massively to put Quebecers back to work is great news. But not like this!

This mammoth bill opens the door to many issues: among other things, bypassing laws and regulations put in place to protect our environment. We understand that the government wants to be pragmatic and to reduce the time required for environmental assessments, but there are other ways to do so, namely by increasing the number of people in the department responsible for conducting them.

The recovery Quebecers want

The public is also sending a strong message: in less than 48 hours, more than 20,000 people signed our petition against Bill 61, demonstrating that they want a fair and ecological reconstruction. In addition, a recent Léger poll shows that 67% of Quebecers want a Quebec that prioritizes health, the environment and quality of life once it has emerged from the COVID-19 crisis, rather than economic growth (30%). We are not surprised by these figures - Quebecers have long expressed their support for strong climate action.

The coming investments must meet economic and environmental imperatives, they must strengthen our systems in order to better mitigate the next crises and their effects. For every decision, the government must ask itself: Does this project make us more resilient? Will it help us strengthen the fabric and social capital of Quebecers? Will it allow us to meet our commitment to reduce greenhouse gases? Will it respect the environment so that future generations can enjoy a viable and healthy environment?

You and the decision-makers around you know as well as I do that nature has not finished taking its stand and disrupting our lives. The message is carried by our children on a daily basis.

To return to the parallel with serious illness, if there is one thing that will definitely help us alleviate our suffering, it is to be surrounded by caring people and to have the right to quality care. And if life gives us the opportunity to start afresh, our first reflex should be to change our lifestyle, refocus on the essentials and listen to what health specialists have to say. Their first recommendations would be to "move more, eat better and take time to rest".

These same principles apply at the state level: choose active transportation over motorized transportation (move more and reduce air contaminants), choose organic and local foods (eat better and reduce contaminants in the soil, air and water), avoid over-consumption, take some time… It's fascinating to see to what extent environmental health and human health are intertwined. After all, humans and the environment are pretty much one and the same. We are interconnected.

Mr. Legault, you have a second chance to rebuild our society on a foundation that makes us more resilient and more cohesive. Please take the time to think about what is happening to us, to surround yourself with health and environmental experts and to listen to what they have to say. Let's get out of this "all for the economy" mentality and open ourselves up to change. This is what we urgently need.

Colleen

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