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Stéphane Laporte July 30, 2012
The student conflict became serious when the people of Quebec realized the student leaders were serious.
“What you’re offering is totally whack. It doesn’t make sense. If education was free, that would kick ass!” If that was how Léo, Martine and Gabriel expressed themselves at their press conferences, the Maple Spring would have lasted about as long as maple taffy on snow. But it wasn’t like that. The student leaders expressed themselves well, with conviction and brilliance. They were therefore in the forefront of the media scene, with panache, each with his or her own charismatic personality.
Gabriel brought the charm of a young revolutionary. Martine brought the reassurance of having been at the top of her class. And Léo brought the sincerity of a responsible young man. Of the three, it is Leo that speaks to the greatest number of people. This is not only because he has made sensible proposals, but because of what we can read in his eyes. The eyes always say more than the mouth. In Léo’s eyes, there is no hatred, no aggression, no scorn. There is nothing but goodwill, intelligence, goodness, and gentleness. In this confusing time of crisis, his face was the most reassuring. There were even nights when he could have been the premier’s father and told him to calm down a bit. Later on, he said just that.
We call such youth, ‘old souls.’ Léo is one.
When his mandate as president of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec ran out on June 1, the youth movement lost its most engaging representative.
This is why his involvement in politics is good. If we want to change things, we have to take to the streets, but we also have to follow the democratic way. That’s the way that Léo Bureau-Blouin is taking today. How far will it take him? The people will decide.
His start is honorable. But there are still those who would discourage him. Who criticize him for being young. I don’t understand these people.
Criticizing Léo Bureau-Blouin for his youth is like criticizing Usain Bolt for his speed. That’s his strength. That’s what gets him up in the morning, what makes him charge ahead, what makes him dream. That’s why his candidacy is so refreshing and that’s what makes him stand out. I don’t know where LBB will be in 40 years, whether he will be bald, paunchy and corrupt, but I do know what he’s like at 20: he is thoughtful, dynamic, and idealistic. So let’s put him to work today. These are the kind of people we need in politics, whether they’re 20, 50 or 80.
And besides, criticizing someone’s age is about as unacceptable as criticizing their sex of their nationality. Old or young, age isn’t a fault.
If only Léo were older. Why?
Older doesn’t necessarily mean better. If it did, a person 60 years old would automatically be more interesting that someone 20 years old. That’s not the case. The works Mozart composed at 6 stand up well against the works Alain Morisod composed at 63. What’s important isn’t how many years a person has lived, but how they’re lived those years.
LBB expresses himself better and is more refined that most elected officials. Compared to Sam Hamad, Léo Bureau-Blouin seems like Bernard-Henri Lévy.
There are some who are made better by life, and life makes some people worse. This is not a hard and fast rule, but one thing is certain: each human being has the right to live the life he or she wants to live. Léo has chosen politics. No one can second guess his choice. We can debate his ideas, his solutions, his methods, but we can’t debate his freedom to make his own life. That is old-fashioned paternalism.
We want young people to vote, we want them to become more politically active, but we don’t want them to stand up and actually do it. That doesn’t make sense. Léo Bureau-Blouin is the perfect age to represent people of his age. That is so obvious that I shouldn’t have to write it. Too young? Come on. At 20, a person isn’t too young to die in Afghanistan, so a person shouldn’t be too young to try and change the world another way. Without a gun. With ideas and with the support of others.
If you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to be voted for.
Keeping young people from having a seat at the table pushes them towards tipping the table over.
In spite of all this, if we still want to pretend that life experience is so important, consider that the worst social crisis that Quebec has known since the 70’s might not make for bad life experience. Plenty of grown-up ministers haven’t had to swim in such choppy seas. Léo has proven to us that he can swim. He just has to remember that, from now on, there are going to be sharks in the water every day.
I hope he will keep his same outlook on life: good, humble and engaged.
In short, his youth doesn’t worry me. On the contrary.
It is those who would have him sit out that worry me.
Good luck, Léo!
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.