LA CONCEPTION, Que. - The man accused in the fatal shooting at a Parti Quebecois victory bash feared that anything but a Liberal election win would hurt him financially, according to people who know him.
Richard Henry Bain, who locals say was obsessed with expanding his fishing-lodge business, was arrested after an election-night attack that left one person dead and another wounded outside a Montreal theatre.
One of Bain's close friends says the 62-year-old was concerned a PQ win would have a negative impact on something that appeared to consume him: the future of his business.
The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Bain was convinced that he was close to securing crucial provincial assistance that would enable him to, among other things, transform his fishing camp into a registered overnight lodge — known as an outfitter.
For years, Quebec has maintained a moratorium on issuing new outfitter permits. Bain had been rejected many times despite multiple attempts to acquire provincial permits and grants, the friend said.
Hours before gunshots rang out at the PQ election-night rally on Sept. 4, Bain had been sent a note informing him that his request for an ice-fishing licence at his lodge had been put off, a village official said.
The friend said Bain was hopeful that his luck was about to change.
The man said Bain was convinced that through his Liberal connections he would get a meeting with a powerful member of Jean Charest's government after the election.
Charest's Liberals, however, were knocked out of power that night by the PQ.
"He thought he had found something that would help him get a permit through the Liberals," said the man, a friend of Bain's for several years.
"When Charest lost the election everything fell apart. Because when you ask for a government grant and the party changes you have restart from scratch."
Bain faces 16 criminal charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with the shooting that took place only metres from where PQ premier-elect Pauline Marois was giving her victory speech.
Bain had expressed an interest in partisan politics, says the mayor of the suspect's municipality in the mountains northwest of Montreal.
La Conception Mayor Maurice Plouffe said he never discussed provincial politics with Bain, but he recalled that the businessman did try to sell him a $150 ticket to a federal Liberal fundraising dinner in the area. That was about two months ago.
"I know that he sold tickets among other things — and he wanted to sell me a ticket — for the federal Liberal party," said Plouffe, who has known Bain since he was first elected mayor in 2009.
"He spoke to me about having good contacts in the federal Liberal party and that he might have a possibility of getting support — of maybe getting a permit."
The mayor said he declined Bain's offer. A person with Plouffe's name donated $400 to the PQ in 2011 and again this year, according to Quebec's elections agency.
Plouffe said he reminded Bain that his requests fell under provincial jurisdiction and that the federal Liberals no longer held much influence in Quebec anyway, particularly in the region.
Bain didn't appear deterred by the remarks, the mayor said.
A veteran fundraiser in the area for the federal Liberals, who has been quoted in local newspapers as also having connections in the provincial Liberals, said Bain never sold tickets for the party.
Gaston Laramee did say that Bain bought a ticket from him last spring for a benefit dinner in support of the federal Grits — but he insisted he only ever spoke to Bain two or three times.
Laramee snapped at a reporter when asked what they discussed.
He refused to share details from their conversations, calling them "personal affairs." He said everyone knew Bain was trying to get permits, but he insisted that they didn't discuss the matter together.
"Never," Laramee said.
"I didn't know him any more than anyone else — even less than others knew him."
Another of Bain's acquaintances said he's certain that the entrepreneur was concerned a Liberal loss would force him to start over in his quest for business help from the province.
"If the Pequistes came in, then for sure he wouldn't get a grant — there would no longer be anything," said Claude David, a garage owner in Labelle, who's known Bain for more than 30 years.
"All the efforts he made would've fallen in the water."
David, like other people who know Bain, said the avid outdoorsman was prescribed medication to treat mental illness.
The mechanic said he tried to avoid discussing politics with Bain in recent years because he said the businessman would launch into long, passionate rants on the subject.
Now, Bain is sitting in a jail cell awaiting his next court appearance, set for Oct. 11.
Among the numerous criminal charges against him, Bain faces three counts of attempted murder and arson in the attack outside the Metropolis nightclub.
Prosecutors said that he legally owns nearly two dozen guns and had five weapons with him when he attempted to enter the club on election night.
Wearing a mask and a bathrobe, Bain shouted that the, "English are waking up," as officers brought him to a police cruiser after his arrest.
Mayor Plouffe said Bain was tenacious in his attempts to find ways to improve his business, which often brought him to town hall.
But the mayor described him as always polite, friendly and jovial.
Plouffe didn't recall anything strange about the deeply religious man, except that he almost always ended their conversations with the same quote: "May God bless you, Mr. Plouffe. Think of God and all your dreams will come true."
"It's quite rare these days that people talk about God," the mayor said.