Quebec Solidaire (QS) parliamentary leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is defending Télé-Québec's decision to invite him to speak at a high school.

The government expressed its discomfort on Tuesday at seeing the QS co-spokesperson on a tour of high schools in April and May at the invitation of the public broadcaster. He is the guest speaker at a Quebec City high school as part of a tour that includes other personalities chosen by young people.

"We should all be happy that when it comes to choosing people who inspire them, young people choose political figures, not just TV stars," Nadeau-Dubois argued. "Should we force young people to choose one person per party?"

He was clear that he would not go to the conference with QS posters.

"I'm going to talk about the importance of civic engagement, the importance of committing to the environment, explaining to them how democracy works. Would you mind telling me what the problem is with that?" he asked.

His colleague, Rosemont MNA Vincent Marissal, came to his defence.

Marissal said it is healthy for elected officials to give talks in high schools and it is up to Télé-Québec to decide.

"I am proud as an MNA to see that my two co-spokespersons (Mr. Nadeau-Dubois and Manon Massé) are inspiring young people in the fight against climate change," he said.

According to the Parti Québécois (PQ), organizing tours for some elected officials, but not others, to young people who will be eligible to vote in 2026 is not the role of a public broadcaster like Télé-Québec, even if it is the choice of young people in a contest.

"Give him (Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois) his prize, but Télé-Québec is not obliged to organize conferences to promote him," said PQ Matane-Matapédia MNA Pascal Bérubé, during a press scrum on Wednesday morning. "Did we offer the same thing (to PQ leader) Paul St-Pierre Plamondon? To the Liberal leader (Marc Tanguay), to the premier (François Legault)? Of course not."

It was Bérubé who questioned Minister of Culture and Communications Mathieu Lacombe on Tuesday evening.

The latter replied that it was "surprising" and that he felt "a certain unease."

However, he did not think it was his role to interfere in the affairs of Télé-Québec, adding that if he did so, his parliamentary colleagues would reproach him.

The speakers are elected by young people through a competition. The Mammoth conferences to be held in schools in Montreal, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières "are intended to create more exchanges between young people and the personalities they have elected Mammoths," reads a Télé-Québec document.

Télé-Québec presents Mammoth as a big movement of young people to "sometimes denounce, but also highlight positive actions, greet and thank people who motivate you."

Athletes Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Marie-Philip Poulin, rapper Samian, influencer Claudie Mercier and CAQ minister Kateri Champagne Jourdain are among the personalities highlighted by Mammoth.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 26, 2023.