One day after a gunman sent Parti Québécois supporters running for their lives, Jacqueline Lane saw a face in the news that made her breath catch.
Staring back at her from the computer screen was a man decked out in a blue bathrobe and handcuffs, shouting that ‘the English had woken up’ — the very same man who had taken her family fishing just a few days before. Another photo of the suspect at his fishing lodge confirmed his identity.
“Here comes this orange shirt from a file photo that they’ve [the media] put up and honestly, I just stopped,” she says. “I think I momentarily stopped breathing because the shirt was the same shirt.”
She called her nine-year-old daughter over to the monitor.
“Avearie, is this Rick?” she asked.
Her daughter looked at the man with the greying horseshoe moustache, shaved head and black glasses, and replied, “It is.”
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Lane thinks back to that day in early September, wondering again and again if there were any signs that their guide would soon be arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
“It honestly keeps me up at night to think back over our conversations and I say to myself ‘no I didn’t miss anything there.’” says Lane, a 39-year-old administrative coordinator from Burritt's Rapids, Ont.
“There weren’t any signs, and yet there is this residual guilt that maybe I should have known.”
Police allege Richard Bain shot two people, killing one, at the Métropolis concert hall where PQ Leader Pauline Marois gave her election victory speech on Sept. 4. He made a brief court appearance Thursday.
Bain faces 16 charges, including first-degree murder; three counts of attempted murder; arson; and a number of weapons charges. Police say his car was found near the scene of the shooting, allegedly containing more firearms and gas canisters.
But to Lane, he was just Rick. And the car, now surrounded by police tape and detectives, had been used to ferry her, her husband, Chris, and their two young children to a morning of trout fishing.
The family spends many long weekends in the condo they own in Mont-Tremblant. The local visitor centre had recommended Les Activités Rick, Bain’s fishing camp on Lake Wade in nearby La Conception, where the family could embark on a four-hour fishing excursion for $108.
The family left early Sunday morning to make their 9 am rendezvous with Bain.
Lane’s first moment of apprehension came when the family car simply couldn’t handle the rough terrain leading to the remote lake where Bain ran his business.
Bain met the family in a parking area down the road from his lodge to take them the rest of the way.
“He was a pleasant gentleman, great with the children,” said Lane.
She said he was what you’d expect of an outdoorsman: gruff voice, orange flannel shirt with the odd hole and stain, and a worn-in baseball cap; rough round the edges, but kind, helpful and passionate about his business.
His first mentioned politics when he spoke of permit issues with the government. He owned the camp (it once belonged to hisfamily), but had leased the land. He seemed to believe that he had a better chance of protecting his business if the Liberals stayed in power, she said. (A close friend told The Canadian Press that Bain believed he would secure crucial permits to build his business from Liberal contacts.)
Still, “it wasn’t anything that screamed vigilante,” she recalls.
Bain took them out onto the private lake that he stocked himself each season with trout. In the guiding business for years, he could tell a customer precisely which year their catch had been introduced, she said.
He spoke with the bilingual family in both French and English and was accommodating with Aeverie, 9, and Ethan, 5.
“I don’t know how many times my kid asked him to change the lure and he was patient and he had a sense of humour,” Lane says.
In their three-hour excursion, they caught four trout, which Bain gutted. He offered up his preferred recipe: stuffed with bacon, butter and onions.
On the ride back to their car, the talk once again turned to politics.
“He mentioned that he was going to support the new coalition party, the CAQ (Coalition Avenir de Quebec), that he knew of friends that were also going to throw their support behind CAQ, and just that he was hoping for better things in terms of Quebec’s future,” said Lane.
The only possible hint of future disturbance was talk of a separated Montreal island so that the city's English business sector could thrive in the Francophone province. His theory was that if Prince Edward Island could survive as a province of some 140,000 people, why not Montreal?
It was the same idea he put forth in a 38-minute interview from prison with radio station CJAD, except during that chat, he claimed the plan was inspired by God.
“I can tell you, he never said anything of the sort to us and if he had then no doubt alarm bells would have rung loud and clear for sure,” Lane says.
Lane and her family thought little of Bain’s political musings. She said she’s known few Quebecers shy about talking politics. The conversation seemed more like casual chatter than a manifesto, she recalls.
At noon the family said goodbye as Bain collected another group. Two days later, he would be behind bars, accused of murder in an election day night shooting that shocked the country.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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