|The face of intolerance being led away by police|
One person is dead. One person is injured and another in being treated for shock.
When taking part of the democratic process, the last thing that should be tolerated is violence. It has no place and is completely antithetical to democratic rights and freedom. While violence of any sort is abhorrent, political violence is fundamentally opposed to the rule of law. It cannot be tolerated under any means.
Here's what we know so far: a man in his 50s, apparently an Anglophone, shot 2 people, one fatally and then set fire to the building where the post-election party of the Parti Québécois was taking place. It appeared that he had a weapon that resembled an AK-47 rifle. Details are coming in as to whether he had explosives in a van as well and other weapons. That is still to be determined as I write this.
However, as the impact of this tragedy ripples through the country and details become clearer, people will want to make sense of this crime. People will look to Pauline Marois, the leader of the newly elected minority government Parti Québécois for leadership.
Her mettle will be tested very early and how she deals with this situation will be crucial. As someone who thinks of the political ramifications of events, I have some ideas on what she should say:
- A vigil should be held for the deceased. Marois should ask that people come together in solidarity for this. Liberals and Péquistes, Anglophones and Francophones, Christians and Muslims and other social groups in which this political campaign polarized. Regardless of our political differences, we share a common humanity and basic decency. Rallying together would be a way to heal theses wounds as well as show our respect for the victim and the injured.
- This is where the political animal rears its head. Quebec has long been opposed to scrapping the long-gun registry. The Quebec Liberals currently have taken Stephen Harper's Conservative government to court to retrieve the information that applies to Quebec residents. There has been no bend from Ottawa on this and the great majority of Quebecers of all political stripes are unequivocal: the Conservatives did a profound disservice towards Canadians by destroying the long-gun registry in its entirety. Marois should remind Quebecers that, on this question, we speak as one. If this tragedy does not move Stephen Harper to act, if all he does is continue to spurn Quebec's legitimate request to retrieve the information that applies to Quebec residents, then... well, an open-ended threat that hints at a referendum would be my suggestion.
It's clear that a minority government doesn't have the same maneuverability as that of a majority but I think building consensus can actually work in favour for the Parti Québécois. The obstacles that polarized the electorate so strongly before this tragedy remain but hopefully, in opposition to the displays of gun violence in the US where after a bout of public consternation it's dismissed out of hand, this event will force everyone to reflect on uniting people rather than dividing them.
Conversely, if I were an NDP political adviser, I would organize a vigil in Ottawa (and other cities if possible) on the same day that Marois organizes her's in Quebec.
Solidarity would have a big impact.