A historic Quebec election that returned the Parti Québécois to power ended in tragedy Tuesday when a gunman killed one person and wounded another, then tried to start a fire at the Montreal venue where PQ Leader Pauline Marois was celebrating her minority mandate.
Police said a suspect entered a vestibule at the back of the Metropolis nightclub and fired shots, wounding two people critically. The suspect then started a fire and ran away on foot.
One shooting victim, a 45-year-old man, later died. At a 6 a.m. press conference Wednesday, Montreal police said the second shooting victim was no longer in danger. Ambulance services reported another person is in hospital suffering from shock.
Montreal police spokesmen said they have arrested a 62-year-old man who spoke French with an accent. The suspect has not been identified. Police have opened a homicide investigation and have seized two firearms.
“The English are waking up, the English are waking up … It’s payback … Yeah, yeah, that’s enough,” the man muttered as police officers led him away in handcuffs. The suspect, a heavyset, bespectacled man, wore a balaclava, shorts and what appeared to be a bathrobe.
Ms. Marois was in the middle of her victory speech, after narrowly defeating Jean Charest’s Liberals by a handful of seats and about one percentage point in the popular vote,when several plainclothes police officers from her security detail suddenly burst on stage and pulled her away, shouting “Go with us, madam!” She later returned and spoke to the crowd.
Earlier, Ms. Marois had acknowledged the ambivalence of Quebec voters in giving her a narrow minority mandate.
“We will respect that choice by governing with all the other elected lawmakers. We’ll make the necessary compromises to make the state work … We’ll govern in a responsible way.”
Emergency legislation was enacted in Québec before the weekend in response to continued protests by Québec students and their supporters. The protests have been continuing for months in response to planned tuition hikes over the next three years.
The bill has three prongs. It levies (exorbitant, especially for students) fines against those who attempt to block access to schools, restricts public protest and suspends winter semesters where students have boycotted classes.
Hours after the legislation was passed, Friday, thousands took to the streets.
Last night, there were over three hundred arrests and 10 “minor injuries.”
Civil liberties groups, students and union groups, of course, deplore the legislation.
When governments make something into a crime, they, in essence, create criminals. This is basic. And! this has it’s place! This can be a tool for social change, it creates a penalty for crimes against fellow members of the community or the society as a whole.
The use of law, in this case, however, seems more of an effort by the government to cut short a conversation it does not want to have at best, and at worst, seem like it is being productive while, instead, escalating relations between the government (police, officials) and the protesters. An effort to silence protesters without actually capitulating or appearing to (gasp) compromise or negotiate to peacefully resolve the situation.
After voting, most people have only limited options to speak our minds, and almost none to speak as a group.
We can write our representatives, we can sign petitions. We can protest. And as annoying as it may be to police and the government, they need to let this happen, and hear what is being said.