When he goes on the attack, Jean Charest usually goes after his Parti Québécois counterpart, Pauline Marois.
But the Liberal Leader has a secondary target on the campaign trail in the form of a 20-year-old former student leader. The daily attacks against baby-faced Léo Bureau-Blouin are a useful tool for Mr. Charest, who is trying to portray the PQ as beholden to the striking students and their allies who caused chaos in the streets of Montreal last spring.
“Ms. Marois is trying to associate herself to the movement, so much so that she has recruited one of its leaders, Mr. Bureau-Blouin as a candidate,” Mr. Charest said in a radio interview on Thursday morning.
But the attacks are also a reflection that Mr. Bureau-Blouin is a rising star of Quebec politics, a young, eloquent sovereigntist who, fresh out of college, is already being labelled “un candidat vedette” in this election.
Mr. Bureau-Blouin promised to continue his university studies on the side if he wins the riding of Laval-des-Rapides on Sept. 4, trying to allay the concerns of columnists who said he should stay in school instead of immediately running for office.
There is no doubt that at the height of the tensions last spring, Mr. Bureau-Blouin was able to stay cool and on message as one of three main student leaders in the province.
However, Mr. Charest has jumped on an interview with magazine L’Actualité in which Mr. Bureau-Blouin said that one of the three student bodies, the CLASSE, was inflexible and unlikely to compromise to reach any deal at the time.
At his campaign launch, Mr. Charest accused the PQ of being ready to “fold” and agree to all of the student movement’s demands. On Friday, Mr. Charest’s campaign is planning a stop in Laval-des-Rapides, where he will lend a hand to his candidate, junior finance minister Alain Paquet. The attacks against Mr. Paquet’s adversary, Mr. Bureau-Blouin, are sure to rise another notch.