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Contentious Quebec election ends in violence

Contentious Quebec election ends in violence

The separatist Parti Quebecois’s victory party after winning provincial elections yesterday was cut short by violence after a gunman opened fire, killing one man and leaving another in critical condition. The gunman began shooting just as PQ leader Pauline Marois was stating her “firm conviction that Quebec needs to become a sovereign country,” according to the New York Times. The Toronto Star adds

According to one witness, his AK-47 rifle jammed.

As he was being led away, the alleged lone gunman shouted: “the anglos are waking up” in French with an English accent. Alternating between English and French he added: “There’s going to be f—ing payback. It’s enough. Wanna make trouble.”

The violence was a disturbing end to a very contentious campaign in which Marois sought to return the party to its separatist routes after years of backing away from the issue. While an independence referendum failed by an extremely narrow margin in 1995, polls show that there’s little support, even among French speaking voters, for full Quebecois independence. 

Instead, like nationalist parties in Scotland and Catalonia,  the PQ seeks to use its mandate to gain increased autonomy and devolve more decision-making power down to the provincial level and expand laws mandating the use of French within Quebec. 

Though traditionally considered a left-wing party, Marois’s platform seems like an intriquing hybrid of the Scottish National Party’s separatism, the Greek Syriza’s economic populism, and the Dutch Freedom Party’s anti-immigrant cultural nationalism. She has worn a square of red fabric in solidarity with controversial student protests over a planned tuition increase.  She also favors forcing immigrants to take a French test before they can run for office and banning religious dress and symbols — except for crucifixes — for government workers. But despite her controversial platform — which has alienated some in the PQ’s traditional left-wing base — Marois was able to ride a series of corruption and incompetence scandals involving the incumbent Liberals into the premier’s office. 

It should get interesting.