Understanding The Quebec Shooting Through PQ Politics
Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois had a short-lived celebration of her election as Premier of Quebec yesterday when a masked man opened fire at her midnight victory rally.
One person, a 48-year-old man, was killed, and another is reported to be injured but is expected to fully recover.
While coming across news like this is always both saddening and appalling, I often wonder why and how these incidents occur. In the past few days, topics of conversation among myself and fellow Canadians have been greatly influenced by yesterday’s election and more than ever I saw Facebook posts from friends urging those they know to go out and vote.
Both the push to vote and the shooting come in the wake of a very tense provincial election for Quebec. Quebec residents have become increasingly weary of the PQ (a political party whose primary goal is to separate Quebec from Canada to preserve the French language and culture, among other reasons), especially those who will be on the negative receiving end of Marois’ francophone-oriented legislature. Marois, who merits applause for being the first woman elected as premier of the province, has highly isolated the Anglophone community during her campaign, resulting in anxious political discussions across the nation.
The party won a plurality of seats in last night’s election, but for the first time will lead with a minority government, a result that undoubtedly allowed many across the country to heave a sigh of relief. A majority for the PQ at this time would have resulted in a variety of drastic changes for the province, including the heavily debated subject of Quebec’s possible separation from Canada to become its own country. Now, with a slim minority, Marois will find heavy opposition from the Liberal Party when it comes time for her to bring her platform to life.
Marois’ platform contains laws that would foster a more secular state for Quebec, including banning religious symbols such as the hijab from the public service, a move that could result in heavy backlash from citizens of a country that prides itself on multiculturalism. Additionally, Marois’ hope to toughen French language laws has resulted in many citizens bitterly promising to leave the province for good if they are enacted.
These changes to the platform of the PQ have resulted in many turning their back on the party. Undoubtedly, there was great discomfort for these citizens as Marois proclaimed her gratitude in her victory speech last night. Minority or not, Marois is a pragmatic person who will continue to push for further support in enacting laws that will foster a tense relationship between the French and English citizens residing in Quebec. So much tension that upon the announcement of her victory, one man decided to use a gun to symbolize his discontent.
What strikes me as both unsettling and alarming is how strikingly opposed his actions were to the democratic election process that Canada maintains. As citizens we speak freely about our political stances, we may or may not support or even find the current Prime Minister amicable, but at the end of the day they were put into power through a democratic election. How does this turn into an incident where a man puts down his ballot and picks up a gun?
While the suspect, who has been identified as Richard Henry Bain, holds intentions that still remain unclear, his choice of words after his arrest reflect his utter contempt with Marois’ platform: “The anglos are waking up. There’s going to be f—ing payback. It’s enough. Wanna make trouble.”
Quebec has not been a stranger to violent protesting this past year as students came to the streets to voice their anger with an incline in tuition fees. Facebook posts, twitter feeds and media outlets were littered with updates on the actions of students who refused to take no for an answer. What’s more worrisome is whether or not last night’s vehement act towards the PQ will spark more violent demonstrations and what that will mean for Quebec’s political spectrum in the coming months.
Do you live in Quebec? What are your thoughts on the election of Marois and the violence that has erupted in its wake? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Written by Nikki Gladstone
Follow her on Twitter, @nikkigladstone!
Header image courtesy of The Canadian Press