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Québec solidaire deplores the lack of access of elected officials to youth centers

Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press Solidarity MP Christine Labrie claims to have suffered numerous refusals from establishments she wanted to visit since her arrival in politics six years ago.

March 21, 2024

  • Quebec

Why can the Prime Minister's wife, Isabelle Brais, visit a youth center, but not an MP ? This is the question asked by the elected representative of Québec solidaire Christine Labrie, Thursday, by tabling a bill to allow parliamentarians to have visiting rights in public establishments.

The member for Sherbrooke tabled a legislative text in the chamber on Thursday aimed at “strengthening the control of government action by a member of parliament by granting him or her a right to visit administrative institutions.” Opposition bill number 591 aims to guarantee “the MP the right to speak confidentially with any person and to be accompanied, during his visit, by a member of his staff, an expert as well as of a journalist.”

Christine Labrie claims to have been pushed to make this proposal after being refused access to a youth center located not far from her constituency. “I asked several times. I was never able to set foot there,” she said at a press conference at the Parliament Building on Thursday.

Like her, the member for Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne, the solidarity-minded Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, asked at the beginning of March to visit the Cartier youth center in Laval, which had shortly before made the headlines for having placed young people in isolation rooms equipped with mesh doors and devoid of furniture. After receiving the green light from local authorities, he was finally refused a few hours later.

“After consulting the responsible authorities, we decline Mr. Cliche-Rivard’s request to visit the Rehabilitation Center for young people with adjustment difficulties. Given the current circumstances, it is essential to preserve peace and protect the private lives of young people,” he was told in an email exchange that Le Devoir obtained.

Christine Labrie finds it difficult to explain why the work of deputies is thus hampered. “The only [youth center] that I managed to visit was Mont-Saint-Antoine, where I saw things that I will never forget. I can't believe that children are made to live in such an environment. And so, it is not normal that we cannot have access to these places as MPs to do our work,” proclaimed the Estrienne elected official on Thursday.

This situation is “all the more abnormal”, she maintains, since François Legault’s wife, Isabelle Brais, herself visited a youth center in 2019. On her Instagram account , she wrote: “I had an unforgettable evening! And it won’t be the last…! »

“I cannot accept that, as a parliamentarian, we are refused,” said Ms. Labrie on Thursday.

“A completely different situation”

In a press scrum on Thursday, the Minister responsible for Social Services, Lionel Carmant, clarified that Ms. Brais' visit to a youth center had been made at the invitation of Nancy Audet, journalist, speaker and godmother of the DPJ Youth Foundation. “It’s a whole different [situation],” he said a few minutes before question period.

“The rules are that, normally, an MP can visit a youth center which is located in his constituency,” he continued, when questioned a few minutes later by Mr. Cliche-Rivard. “We must understand that these are living environments, living environments for minors, living environments where there is a certain confidentiality which must be respected. It is difficult for a parent to imagine that their child could have a visit from 125 deputies, when a difficult situation is requested in a youth center. »

The Cartier and Val-du-Lac youth centers, which MPs Cliche-Rivard and Labrie recently wanted to visit, are not located in their constituency. Minister Carmant still undertakes to “analyze the bill” of the supportive MP.

With The Canadian Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116