“I learned to let go” – Vincent Boutin [VIDEO]
Councilor Vincent Boutin does not hide his nervousness to return to work after four months of stoppage imposed by professional exhaustion.
Share October 2, 2020 Updated October 3, 2020 at 9:10 am Share “I learned to let go” – Vincent Boutin [VIDEO]
Jonathan Custeau La Tribune At 34, councilor Vincent Boutin has dropped to one knee, overwhelmed by exhaustion. Father of three young children, he retired from public life for four months on June 9 to rebuild his health. Deeming it necessary to testify to shed light on mental health problems, at a time when a pandemic continues to blacken gray areas, he claims to resume his elected seat with the intention of having fun and maintaining a healthier relationship with work. According to him, the negative climate at City Hall contributed to his shortness of breath.
Invested with a love for politics, Vincent Boutin became an activist at the age of 24 before landing a job with MP Réjean Hébert at the age of 27. He then spun without stopping to a post of municipal councilor, at the age of 28, and obtaining a second term in 2017 serving the citizens of the Quatre-Saisons district. Three paternity leaves have followed one another for the arrival of his daughters today, five, three and one years old. And he was named president of the advisory planning committee, one of the most demanding committees in the City of Sherbrooke.
“I approach my return with nervousness. I need to find my bearings. It was important for me to broach the subject in a public way and I feel ready to do so. What has changed is that I understood that I am a very intense person, involved in a lot of issues, and I learned to let go. My relationship with work has changed. Of course I am a better human, and no doubt that I will be a better politician, because I know myself better, ”summarizes Mr. Boutin.
If he avoided the shipwreck, it is a lot thanks to his wife, Ève Durocher, a pillar who took the witness the time he gets up. She was also the one who sounded the alarm. “I didn't see the symptoms. I worked for a long time in a restaurant and, there, we said to ourselves: when there is no more energy, there still is. But I had started to lose weight, to sleep less well. I saw a doctor who helped me to avoid falling into more serious depression. “
Vincent Boutin believes that he had to publicly announce the reasons for his temporary withdrawal from political life. How he believes his testimony can make people listen to himself more.
According to him, it will be necessary to debate work-family reconciliation within democratic institutions. Her colleagues Évelyne Beaudin and Karine Godbout recently mentioned it to city council. Annie Godbout had also done so in the last term. “I felt guilty for always being in a meeting, so I was trying to redeem myself when I was home. Telecommuting, I was in the office, but I could hear the children crying. I would have liked to lend a hand. “
Hence the importance, according to Vincent Boutin, of the support of his wife. “No matter what job you hold, in these circumstances, having someone at home is essential. We can no longer play politics like 20 years ago and have three evening meetings every week when we miss supper with the children. It will be necessary to establish how many hours elected officials in Sherbrooke must work. We have come to assert that being an advisor is a full-time job. And with technology, we could do our meetings earlier. After 12 hours in front of a screen, there is no one more efficient … “
A wheel that keeps turning
Former MP Luc Fortin had experienced a similar situation at about the same age in 2016. “I spoke to him when I took leave in June. As a politician, we forget that we are human. It was my inspiration. It's normal what happened. It's okay, in 2020, to talk about mental health and say that we live with anxiety. We are often passionate people for whom it is difficult to say that we have had enough. But no one is going to tell us to stop if we don't draw the line ourselves. It is insidious the wheel which always turns in our head because the political world never stops. I think a lot of elected officials flirt with exhaustion. “
This second hand that never runs out is speeding up with the ubiquitous means of communication, with the sometimes violent comments on social media. MP Christine Labrie has also denounced to the National Assembly the hateful messages that she and her colleagues receive on the internet. “You shouldn't let that get you down. We cannot force people to love us, ”said Mr. Boutin.
“But there are also positive elements to social media. People who would never have called me came into contact with me. But you have to set limits and people understand when you explain to them why their questions are not answered on the spot. “
“I approach my return with nervousness. I need to find my bearings. It was important for me to broach the subject in a public way and I feel ready to do so. “- Vincent Boutin
Complex cases and negative debates
Political issues are also more complex, more involved. Just think of the financial, but also human, consequences of COVID. Vincent Boutin nevertheless continues to believe that reducing the number of elected officials in Sherbrooke was a good decision. “It is because we do not trust the file carriers enough. We are trying to redo the work of the 15 elected committees, once the conclusions are presented to the municipal council. “
On Facebook, the city councilor reports that in seven years at City Hall, the debates have never been so negative. He quotes, among other things, a comment from Mayor Steve Lussier, who wanted to buy a lottery ticket to underline Evelyne Beaudin's resignation from a committee, or a publication from Sherbrooke Citoyen according to which the population of a district deserves better than the councilor who has been elected there for 20 years. “The question of respect is gone. We can debate, but it quickly falls to the staff. People have the right to disagree, to criticize, but everyone's integrity must be respected. We must accept that others do not think like us. In the next year, if we gain the notion of respect, it will be an accomplishment. And I want to name it when we go beyond the limits. “
Approached as a candidate for mayor for the 2021 election, Vincent Boutin does not close any doors, but he allows himself time to get back to work before deciding on his political future. “It did me a lot of good to get out of traffic. It was the first time in my life that I had stepped back from politics. Seeing my kids at night, I really loved it. I thought to myself: if you go back to politics, now you know what to expect. I don't want to forget what I learned this summer and I made a memory aid so that it doesn't go away. I want to have fun and keep a balance. “
Is this balance compatible with any political function? “Everything is done. Everything is organized. You just need to be able to say no. Right now, I'm not putting pressure on myself. I have to reclaim the feelings of work and for the rest, we'll see. My health is the most important thing. “
He has the sincere “we will see”, Vincent Boutin, ensuring that he will dive back into his files before considering an election which will take a little over a year to arrive …