Violence shatters Quebec

Violence shatters Quebec

The separatist party was elected back to power in Quebec last night, but any existential crises of Canadian nationalism were quickly put on hold once shots rang out at the new premier’s victory party.

Some kind of crazed gunman apparently found his way into Parti Quebecois HQ and opened fire, critically injuring two revelers one of whom died shortly after. The premier-elect herself, Pauline Marois, was not injured, though she was whisked dramatically off her podium by bodyguards, in what will invariably become one of the most iconic moments of Canadian political history.

The shooter — who also attempted to set fire to the building on his way out — was promptly apprehended by the police. As I write this, little about him is known other than he’s a middle-aged white guy who was wearing a bathrobe for some reason. As he shot, and later, as he was being hauled away, he is said to have repeatedly shouted “Les Anglais se reveillent!” or “the English awaken!” in a foreign accent no one has yet been able to ascertain.

Whoever he is and whatever his motives, his actions are almost certainly the most vicious act of Canadian political violence in decades, and certainly the only incident bearing an actual body count since the assassination of Quebec vice-premier Pierre LaPorte in the infamous hostage crisis of October, 1970. Questions are still being raised about just how close Quebec’s new leader came to death herself; conspiracy theorists are already pouring over the video of Mrs. Marois with an intensity previously reserved for Zapruder enthusiasts, convinced that a mysterious black spot appearing by her head at the four second mark is actually the hole of a bullet that barely missed its target.

Until we know more about the would-be assassin and civilian murderer, of course, it would be grossly premature to get into any sort of political analysis of this incident. Some wags on Twitter and elsewhere have obviously already jumped to the conclusion that the whole thing is just the predictable outcome of Quebec’s ultra-polarized political climate and so forth, but such claims ring as hollow as the equally gun-jumping accusations that the shooter of Gabby Giffords was under the spell of Sarah Palin’s Super PAC graphics. The most likely assumption is that the guy is simply a lone nut, as the majority of bumbling, inelegant killers of this sort usually are.

It was a chilling night for Canada, and our hearts go out to the two victims and their families. At the same time, one hopes we’ll also be able to appreciate just how spectacularly the killer failed at fulfilling whatever deranged fantasy he intended, and the vastly smaller taint of fear and terror our political culture will absorb as a result.


  1. Louis

    The sad part is this will give a boost the independance movement.

    My mom, whon hasn’t voted for the PQ since the Levesque years, who voted yes at the first referendum and no at the second one (made sence at the time, doesn’t anymore)and who voted for the CAC was telling me something along the line “If they can’t handle and election results, maybe it’s time to leave”.

    The PQ will milk this for all it’s worth over the next years.

  2. Nicolasrll

    No, the sad part is that a man was killed while heroically trying to stop an armed madman from entering a room full of people which also contained the newly elected Prime Minister. He had a four year old daughter. What do you say we give it a few days before we start lamenting what politicians may or may not say about this tragedy?

  3. Jake_Ackers

    My condolences to those affected. One key point that should be noted though is this, blaming anything for the actions of a mad man is like blaming the Catcher in the Rye and trying to ban it because of Lennon's death.

  4. Kwyjor

    Why on Earth is this the first site I've heard about this today?

  5. JonasB

    My best guess is that it has to do with the somewhat low-key nature of the event, as much as that can be possible with something like a gunman. My understanding of the shooting is that most of the audience didn't know what was going on until a little bit after the premier was escorted away. Since Marois was not directly harmed by the shooter (as compared to Giffords in Arizona a while back) the media might not be considering it as a major story as compred to the analysis of the election results and what they mean for Canada/Quebec. I could also be completely wrong about this possibility.

  6. JonasB

    I'd like to correct this statement. The shooting has gotten decent and non-speculative coverage in the toronto star and CBC.

  7. Stacko

    I think you forgot the Denis Lortie incident in 1984.

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