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Quebec marks 10-year anniversary of 2012 fatal election night shooting

Former Quebec premier and Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois speaks during an event in honour of Rene Levesque in Longueuil,Que., Wednesday, August 24, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Ten years after Quebec's election night shooting, society has a duty to guard against violent and hateful speech that threatens democracy, former premier Pauline Marois said Sunday. 

It was on Sept. 4, 2012 that a shooter opened fire outside the Montreal venue where Marois was delivering her victory speech, killing one person and seriously injuring another. 

Richard Henry Bain was convicted in 2016 of one count of second-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder in the shooting and sentenced to at least 20 years with no possibility of parole.

While Bain didn't enter the Metropolis nightclub where the shooting happened, testimony at his trial revealed he'd told a forensic psychiatrist that he'd wanted to set fire to the venue and "kill as many separatists as possible,'' including Marois.

The former Parti Québécois leader said Sunday that society has a duty to remember the attacks.

"Above all, to never forget to act on all fronts, in all respects, to protect our democracy, to distance ourselves from violent and hateful speeches like we've heard in recent days," Marois said at a coffee shop in Montreal where she was campaigning alongside Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

The attack darkened a historic moment for Marois, who had just been elected the province's first female premier.

Her speech was interrupted by two bodyguards, who took her by the arm and escorted her from the stage. She later returned to ask people to leave the room in a calm way.

The anniversary comes as politicians on the provincial election campaign trail have faced threats of violence that have raised concern over their safety.

Liberal candidate Marwah Rizqy has gone public about the death threats she's received, while the riding office of another Liberal candidate was vandalized and robbed last week. On Saturday, Quebec provincial police announced they'd arrested a person suspected of altering a Coalition Avenir Québec candidate's campaign poster to show it dripping blood.

When asked about the shooting anniversary on Sunday, Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault said he understood from his conversations with police that they've learned lessons from the incident.

He also weighed in on the charged political climate, which has "escalated with social media," he told reporters in Laval. 

"Almost everywhere in the world, we're looking at this," he said. "The solutions aren't easy and obvious, but we have to think about it."

On Saturday, Legault had said he doesn't exclude new legislation to tackle the problem if re-elected, especially in relation to social media.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 4, 2022.

The Canadian Press