The election to Parliament of students and twentysomethings has been a source of bemusement for some political elites. Not all of these accidental NDP MPs expected to win. But to hold them up to ridicule, before they have exercised any of their public duties, is to be contemptuous of democracy itself.
Election invites scrutiny - so yes, let's scrutinize them. Pierre-Luc Dusseault, a Université de Sherbrooke political science student, may have had his summer plans to work at a golf course (minimum wage $9.65 an hour) sidelined by his election as an MP (salary $157,731 a year), so that he (age 19) can hold the Prime Minister (age 52) to account.
So what? Do these divergences in age, income or station make Mr. Dusseault any less able an MP? From the post-election interviews he's given, he has come across as thoughtful, intelligent, reflective and ready to serve. Or take 27-year-old Alexandrine Latendresse, newly elected in Louis-Saint-Laurent in her second run for office. She noted with acuity in a La Presse interview, "We always say young people aren't interested in politics. But when they do engage, we hit them over the head."
No one is entitled to public office, and why should students be taken any less seriously than, say, rookie MPs whose background is in farming or medicine? Voters were drawn to the NDP (particularly in Quebec), and so they elected NDP candidates, disappointing many - including "star" candidates of many partisan stripes, assured of success by the party brass, and those aspirants, old and young, who have plotted every phase of their political careers. That's the magic of representative democracy.
Quebec's new NDP MPs are not there just to represent the young. Yet the voices of young people should be heard. And we should heed both youth issues - the fiscal and environmental deficits they will inherit; the quality of the educational system - and the manner in which youth raise them. The most skilled among them will bring suppleness, strength and new ways of communicating to the Commons, reinvigorating a chamber that the public clearly thought could use some new energy. So rather than heaping scorn on these new MPs, let us wish them well.Report Typo/Error
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