A coffee with… Émile Proulx-Cloutier | “Our generation becomes an object of study”

Émile Proulx-Cloutier is convinced that his generation – which is mine too – will one day study at great universities. Unfortunately, not for his heroic deeds, but for his inertia in the face of climate catastrophe.

Posted at 5:00 am

Laura Julie Perreault

Laura Julie Perreault
The press

“As seniors, it becomes difficult for us to have a wise attitude,” says the actor and singer-songwriter, who is not in his 40s.

“We’re going to say, ‘What? They were in power for the first 20 years of the XXIe We won’t have an alibi. We’ll have access to an insane amount of information. We can’t say we didn’t know. That the solutions weren’t within our reach. We won’t even have the pretense of fear of repression when we propose changes.Our inertia—from which I don’t exclude myself—will be a subject of study,” adds the artist, seated in a Little Italy park with an espresso in a cardboard glass.

Father (discreetly) at the front

This May morning, Émile Proulx-Cloutier has just returned from Quebec, where he took part in a demonstration by mothers at the front. His wife, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, founded this collective with other mothers outraged at the inaction in the face of planetary danger. “It’s called the mothers at the front, but I feel totally left out! he laughs.

The couple – together and apart – are known for both their art and their social engagement. When the National Assembly awarded a medal to life partners in 2016, it did so for both their contribution to Quebec culture and their contribution to civic life.

It was the demonstration, which fell on Mother’s Day, that prompted me to have coffee with Émile Proulx-Cloutier. That and his show With bare handsa clever mix of songs and monologues.

Over coffee I wanted to talk to him about the art of raising children with a strong ecological conscience. During our hour-long interview, although I announced my colors beforehand, that was the only question he refused to answer. “When it comes to talking about the bourgeois approach to parenting, we either indulge in anecdotes or we seem to be teaching lessons,” he told me. And lectures are not his thing.

The Ball of Demands

Furthermore, he chooses the path of empathy when trying to explain our collective difficulty in taking the necessary turn to save the planet. the us. “There are so many worries floating around in our heads. Getting things done, preparing lunch, commitments to the bank. We always lag behind a requirement. In these circumstances, even if you are comfortable in life, there is little time to think, to have a common thought,” he says.

In addition to this hectic life, there is also our democracy, which leaves little room for real discussion, for different ideas within the same party, he adds.

I will jump for joy the day I hear three members of the same party say they disagree! This kind of disagreement would be called internal conflict if it was meant to be celebrated.

Emile Proulx-Cloutier

He’s not wrong. The political system in place in our country, whether in Ottawa or Quebec, leaves much more room for party line than in the democracies around us, whether we think of the American or the British model.

Whose fault is it? A bit of a journalist, believes Émile Proulx-Cloutier, but also of partisan logic. “We have a sporting game [entre deux partis] all too often takes precedence over discussion. We will use one cause to obliterate another. We would rather show a facade of unity within one party than admit that the other camp’s proposal makes sense. And with that, we shoot each other in the foot together. We are unlearning how to exchange ideas and how to search together for a precise and powerful solution to a problem,” he believes.

And the artist’s role in all of this? Émile Proulx-Cloutier notes that you don’t change the world with a song, a novel, a show, but that the artist can contribute to the slow evolution of mentalities. “We can be a relay. Make people who have busy lives open to certain topics, he notes. The trap as an artist is that people feel like they are looked down on. The interesting themes in creation are the ones we have not understood. what separates us [À nous] to add flesh, humanity. Blurring the lines between what is intimate and collective, what affects the other and what affects you. »

In other words, to create a “we” of empathy.


Emile Proulx-Cloutier

Questionnaire without filters

coffee and me

He accompanied me in so many moments, gently as hard. I fancy he knows me better than I know myself… I like this quote from Alphonse Allais about this trivialized drug: Coffee is a drink that will make you sleep if you don’t drink it. »

I want to gather people around the table, dead or alive

Nina Simone, Frida Kahlo, George Sand … and a virtuoso translator. I would fill the glasses and I would listen! Or, if the table is really, really big, my entire family tree for the past five centuries. I have many questions!

The last book I read

The birds by Tarjei Vesaas. A Norwegian novel from 1957, retranslated as cleverly as if it had just come out.

A historic event that I would have liked to have attended

It hasn’t happened yet. I wish for the day when a majority of scientists can confirm that together we have succeeded in reversing the trend of our harmful impact on the climate and that we have managed to stick to the least-worse scenario. I know that sounds naive. But hope remains: I know that many of us want to witness this victory.

Who is Emile Proulx-Cloutier?

  • He was born in 1983 to actors Danielle Proulx and Raymond Cloutier.
  • He took his first steps as an actor at the age of 10 and has since filled dozens of roles on television, the big screen and theatre. He is also a director, director and screenwriter in his spare time.
  • As a singer-songwriter, he has three albums to his credit, including flood and love monsters. He is currently touring with the show With bare hands.

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