Doctor Philippe Couillard on the campaign trail

When the Quebec Liberal campaign visited the Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières, Couillard walked into the room for the pre-arranged photo-op and exclaimed, “Dummies again!”
Quebec Liberal Party Leader Philippe Couillard visits a nursing faculty Wednesday, in Trois Rivières, Que. (Jacques Boissinot/CP)

Touring the province with Liberal leader Philippe Couillard has its dangers  namely tripping over medical test dummies.

Such was the case Wednesday, when the Quebec Liberal campaign visited the UniversitédeQuébecàTrois-RivièresCouillard walked into the room for the pre-arranged photo-op and exclaimed, “Dummies again!”

Indeed. By my count, that was the third time in 33 days the Liberal leader and trained neurosurgeon has visited a faculty of medicine and inspected a test dummy. The life-like mannequins, used by students to practice diagnoses, are quite impressive — they can breathe, cough and moan.

Quebec Liberal Leader, and former neurosurgeon, Philippe Couillard examines a dummy in a medical training centre, while former health minister Yves Bolduc observes. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

After the third dummy appearance, I had to ask Liberal candidate and adviser Jean-Marc Fournier to explain. When I asked him how many dummies we had encountered so far on the campaign, he burst out laughing. Another member of the Liberal team said, “What do you want from us? He’s a doctor!”

That he is. Couillard’s excitement when he enters medical training centres is clear. On the first visit that brought us into contact with a dummy, Couillard promptly grabbed a light and began examining its pupils, while former health minister Yves Bolduc couldn’t get over how real the “patient” looked and felt.

In these situations, it’s also clear that Couillard is very perceptive — and a stickler for details. He noticed immediately that a ventricular drain on one of the dummies was on its left side, not the right — which would be safer for the “patient”. Don’t ask me why — I’m not the brain surgeon, he is.

With voting day fast approaching, election watchers may be wondering what the result will be. I, for one, am curious to see if we can fit in one more visit with a dummy front and centre.

About the Author

Salimah Shivji


Salimah Shivji is a journalist with the national arts and entertainment unit.