Tag Archives: Québec History

I Spoke Too Soon… Assassination Attempt Against Pauline Marois

Photo credit to PC/Paul Chiasson

I’m devastated.

Il doit être dit, cet homme est un fou, et il n’est en aucune manière représentative de la communauté anglo-québécoise. Nous sommes de tout coeur un peuple de paix. Nous l’avons vu etla choc et la terreur se fit sentir dans les profondeurs de toutes nos ames. C’était écÅ“urant. C’est horrible, mais c’est l’acte d’un fou, et non un peuple.

Nous sommes tous fiers Québécois, et je lève mon chapeau à Mme Marois pour calmer une foule joviale et montrant un réel leadership dans le visage d’une hostilité fou.

At about Midnight, September 5th 2012, a deranged man in a bathrobe entered the back of Metropolis and opened fire inside the venue, hitting two people, wounding them critically. He then tried to set fire to the building, site of the Parti Québecois victory party. Madame Pauline Marois, premier-elect of the Province of Québec, was in the middle of her victory speech when intercepted and whisked off stage by Sureté-du-Québec bodyguards. She was not injured though it appears as though the insane gunman got perilously close to her. I watched it happen live and it made my heart skip a beat.

The man apparently screamed in French that the Anglophones will rise, or revolt.

Police cannot confirm the type of number of weapons used. So far only one arrest and one suspect. Fire’s been put out, Metropolis safely evacuated, Marois uninjured as of 12:44am September 5th 2012

Photo credit to Olivier Pontbriand, La Press – A photograph of the apprehended gunman

CJAD now saying one dead. Unconfirmed. Video of the gunman has been released. Confirmed at 12:58am September 5th 2012 on CBC as they sign off to the National. They better be back in twenty-two.

Switching back to RDI. I think CTV has a live feed too.

Live feed on RDI

The gun looks a lot like an AK-47. I doubt its an airgun as some had stated earlier. It’s unclear how many victims. Conflicting reports about how many brought to hospital as of 1:06am

RDI just reported (1:20am) that the first victim was a replacement bus-driver for the media caravan. A last minute replacement bus driver.

Word has come out the victim is in fact an audio technician, and the bus driver is in critical condition (1:34am)

RDI video footage confirms the man was yelling “les Anglais se réveillent”, “this is payback” and “you wanna make trouble?” as he was being led to the police cruiser.

At 1:36am unconfirmed report comes in from La Press indicating a van filled with weapons has been found near Metropolis.

1:45am РUrgences Sant̩ confirms, one dead at the scene, one in critical condition and one being treated for shock.


Francoise David & Amir Khadir of Québec Solidaire

So was this Québec’s “everybody wins” election?

Charest is out and free to face the Charbonneau Commission.

Pauline Marois has become premier, a job she arguably deserves if for no other reason than her tenacity at retaining her seat and knowing her support base. Québec’s first female premier, a mere sixty-eight years after women gained suffrage in the province. I have sincere reservations about Ms. Marois, but she is now premier, and what got her to power may be very different from what gets her over the many coming hurdles. Among others, the Spring budget. As it stands, the PQ will not be able to pass a budget by itself. It will have to reach out to the Liberals and/or Caquistes for support. No easy task, but if she is as devoted to the prosperity and progress of this province as she says she is, she will gladly reach out to ideological opponents and govern by consensus. If not, we’ll be reminded of why there were so many defections but a few months ago, and in seven months will be right back where we started, another election.

Francois Legault holds the balance of power and performed admirably for his first effort leading his own party. He was gracious in defeat and a class act all the way. It’s not impossible to make the breakthrough he did, but rare, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the CAQ comes together in the National Assembly.

Pauline Marois, the premier-elect of the Province of Québec

The students have an elected representative in Leo Bureau-Blouin.

Amir Khadir and Francoise David have united two neighbouring ridings and will stand together in the National Assembly.

And lastly, the QLP did not implode, and retains the respect of official opposition. A good number of former cabinet ministers will keep their seats and the rump party has held a good portion of its territory and big name candidates. For Québec’s centrist-federalist middle-class, I can imagine this will be quite a relief.

As of the time of this writing, the typically firebrand Jean-Francois Lisée is dodging direct questions about if and when a referendum question will be called. He explains that the PQ will not impose a referendum. For the province’s federalists, perennially trying to explain the merits of Canada and cultural integration to people convinced they’ve been robbed of Shangri-La, there is comfort in knowing the party is stronger than its leader, and can survive without populism.

Jean Charest of the Québec Liberal Party

Charest will either choose to stay on to fight again, or retire in ignominy. Who knows what his fate is at this point. But after what he’s had to deal with in the last two years, and the last few months in particular, he may very well likely wash his hands of what can only be described as the least describable job in the world. Few Québec premiers get the chance to go out in any other way than ignominiously.

The biggest obstacle to moving forward has been removed without leaving a cataclysm in his wake. The first test will be how Pauline Marois deals with the inevitable – the difficulties of adequately funding our massive public post-secondary education system, not to mention striking a balance with all student groups. The election of Bureau-Blouin can be a major tactical advantage, and a successful resolution could be an easy quick win for the PQ. I’m not so optimistic however, as I believe she may in fact have to retract on several promises. We’ll have to see.

The early word is a participation rate in excess of 70%, not great, but not dreadful as in the case of most recent federal elections.

In broad terms we had a managed shake-up. All the necessary changes occurred, the autocracy of populism & majority government momentarily undone while retaining stability and all the necessary checks and balances. There’s no reason for any kind economic panic, as we all know this may be very short lived.

Prime Minister Harper acted quickly and congratulated Ms. Marois’ victory while reminding the Québecois now’s not the time to get into a constitutional mess. Sometimes I wonder how he opens a chess match…

Francois Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec

Independence was polling at the bottom of the charts despite the apparent PQ victory but a few days ago and from the talk of the party’s big mouths, restraint seems to be the order of the day.

The next seven months will doubtless be very interesting.

And tomorrow we can all go back to enjoying life and ignoring politics…

The White Horse of Fort Senneville

Is it me or are we lacking in ghost stories in this city?

Every year Halloween comes around and I get asked if I know any decent local ghost stories. Each year I come up short. It’s a problem for me, because in my opinion it’s a demonstration of a slightly larger, more complex problem – lack of local folklore. What we know about our city is very often defined in terms of what can be demonstrated – we speak of our city in scientific terms, in measurements, in percentages. When we discuss culture, we often tend towards using scientific terminology to discuss our society. There is a reason for this, or perhaps there once was, when it was necessary to demonstrate our local society as a measurement against a larger, more imposing cultural mass. But I firmly believe those days to be of another era, and that we have the cultural and societal strength and confidence to begin loosening our previous approach. What I find odd is how little is written on points of common cultural experience, of shared history and discourse between the two majority-minority groups that so define our peculiar nation of nations.

Folklore is cultural currency. A strong local appreciation of a city’s folklore, it’s common history, will provide the local arts community with a strong foundation of reference material. Look back at the works of some of our great artists, past and present, many have demonstrated in their seminal works a profound attachment to local culture and society through an understanding of our folklore.

Folklore is extremely important. Its typically packaged as morality tale wrapped in pertinent historical and cultural information, designed to convey an idea about why we live where we do, and why our society is how it is. Montréal, as a result of its history and linguistic divisions, has so far largely turned its back on developing the common folklore. Perhaps this is as a result of the Quiet Revolution, which aimed to turn away completely from the Grand Noirceur and the perceived backwardness of our provincial, agrarian past. But if there is a legitimate interest on the part of Québecois nationalists, sovereignists and/or cultural enthusiasts to protect the local French dialect and the cultural heritage of the people of Québec, what would be better than developing a local folklore, in which the stories are designed to be as relatable to the Montréal experience as possible regardless of which language they’re expressed in. For this, we need to take a good long look at who we were as a city, as a people, hundreds of years ago.

Montréal’s colonial era history has always fascinated me, though partially as a result of it being so overshadowed by American and Spanish colonial era history. We were intimately involved in the early history of the United States, Great Britain and the halcyon days of the Bourbon monarchy in France, and yet we retreat from the realities of the colonial experience.

When I was younger I heard stories of frontier folklore with an American colonial bent, whether in literature or through television and movies. It made me wonder what life was like back then, only here. Who were the ghosts of our past, and what perspective on the human experience could be gleaned through such stories. In my search I came across one story that’s always stuck with me. It’s the story of the ghost of a white horse, said to run down Gouin Boulevard in Ste-Genevieve. There are rapids in the Back River by Riverdale High School, by the park at the top of Boul. des Sources, and they are named after this galloping spectre.

As best I know it, the story goes like this. There are the remnants of a fort built by the French colonial administration in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, once called Fort Senneville. The fort has been destroyed twice, once by the Iroquois (in 1691) and then by Benedict Arnold in 1776 (though at the time it wasn’t in use by any party, and Arnold destroyed it so it could not be used by the advancing British regulars, Canadien militia and Iroquois warriors making their way up from Les Cédres). It was built to defend the vital trading post and community at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, not to mention the king’s road which linked Ste-Anne’s with Ste-Genevieve to the North and Pointe-Claire, Lachine and Ville-Marie to the East. It was during this first attack on the fort in 1691 that a dispatcher was sent out along the King’s Road to Ste-Genevieve, to warn of the possibility of attack. Riding a white horse he sped off down the trail, only to be killed by the attacking Iroquois. The horse carried on, terrified from violence and the deafening blasts of muskets, galloping down the well-trod trail until it eventually came upon the sleeping village of Ste-Genevieve. As one might imagine, a terrified horse would make enough noise to wake up the residents, and they were able to piece together what had happened what with the mangled corpse I can only assume was being dragged by the horse. The story goes on that the horse dies of exhaustion and that the spirit of the terrified horse would surge forth from the powerful rapids nearby each year on the anniversary of this fateful ride, determined to simultaneously remind the inhabitants to be vigilant and to look for his dead master.

Anyways, that’s what I heard. Two cops my brother found creeping around the fort a few years ago related it pretty much as I just did.

Something tells me it’s a bit of a mess story-wise, perhaps the synthesis of a variety of different local legends. I’d certainly like to know more about this if any of you know.

And aside from that, as far as ghost stories go, well, what would be worse than finding yourself on Senneville Road or Gouin Boulevard only to see the white flash of a mad steed barreling down you? I guarantee at the very least this spirit has certainly caused a couple traffic accidents.

Besides – when was the last time Mary Gallagher turned up? It’s time we find ourselves some new ghosts, no?

The strange case of Denis Lortie

Admittedly not an event which occurred in Montréal, but given our history of shoot-ups at various local institutions, something we should nonetheless pay attention to. Mr. Lortie walked into the National Assembly on May 8th 1984 and filled it with led from a 9mm sub-machine gun. He killed three and wounded thirteen. He was a serving corporal in the Canadian Forces, and a paranoid schizophrenic who had been abused by his tyrannical father, and was further involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister that ended with her pregnancy.

Lortie’s weapons were Canadian Forces standard issue, and when he made his way into the National Assembly, there was no one present who had the means to stop him. It took the courageous actions of the Sargent-at-Arms, René Jalbert, to talk Lortie out of his inssane plan. After the fact, it was discovered he had planned to wipe out the governing Parti Québecois, including Premier René Lévesque.

Lortie was apparently paroled in December 1995, and there hasn’t been much info on him since. But the question as to whether armed security forces ought to be stationed at government and institutional buildings as a means to prevent an attack, whether by lone gunmen or terrorists, has never really been addressed on a national and local basis. Granted, there was an increase in general security after 9/11. But calls for armed guards at Concordia University or in the Métro, as an example, have also fallen by the wayside.

What is the better option. Posted armed guards or an enhanced police presence? What’s more effective, a security apparatus designed to fade into the background until required, seamlessly interwoven into general society, or the deliberate statement of force and security? What do you think?

The Spirit of Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen, hero of the Green Mountain Boys, prisoner of the British at Montréal

You gotta love chutzpah.

This guy here, this is Ethan Allen, one of the founders of Vermont, the man who captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British during the Revolutionary War, and the very same guy who then attempted to invade Montréal. This last one didn’t work out so well, as his ragtag army of fewer than 100 men (a mix of Americans and Canadiens) tried to attack the small fort to the east of colonial-era Montréal, at the Battle of Longue-Pointe. He gets his ass handed to him by a superior force and is taken prisoner and later exchanged.

Fast forward a few years to the era of the Vermont Republic, and Ethan Allen is getting the shaft by the Continental Congress, not to mention getting pushed around by New York. So what does he do? He begins discussions with the Governor of Québec about some form of alliance, either a merger or Québec recognition of Vermont sovereignty.

Given the outcome of the mid-term elections, I think it might be wise to give Bernie Sanders a call…

A rational society; the Hitch strikes again…

I love watching intelligent people destroy obnoxious blowhards with sound, precise, maddeningly effective logic, cutting like a hot knife through butter. The Hitch delivers in this one, calling Jerry Falwell exactly what he was: a dangerous demagogue.

How lucky to live in a society based, strongly, on Enlightenment principles. How precarious it is, as recent developments in the United States have demonstrated, to hold onto it.

A key issue to understanding Québec society and culture is the near-total control inflicted on it by the Catholic Church, roughly from the time immediately after the Patriotes Rebellion up until the late 1950s. And then, the , a period of profound social change, about as tumultuous and rapid as possible without degenerating into a prolonged riot, though the years were rough by local standards. Of considerable importance, the once dominant Church would lose its position in Québec society, and the state would go secular. This was the Quiet Revolution.

I cannot conceive of a city more Catholic and yet profoundly secular as Montréal. I have no idea how many people here identify with atheism, yet I’m acutely aware of a general consensus that religion has done considerably more harm than good throughout the last few thousand years. It seems that pretty much everyone I know, and meet, are probably thinking the same thing. Again, its part of the local cultural identity. We were oppressed for years, the abuse was rampant. Why do you think it was called ‘le grand noirceur’, the Great Darkness?

Seeing a man like Hitchens emasculate that Confederate worm and his faux-Irish Braheem mouthpiece gives me immense joy.

Anyone up to build a statue of him next to the cross on the mountain?