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Supriya Dwivedi

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Even Before the Shots, This Election Was Rooted in Hate

Posted: 09/05/2012 3:50 am

This blog post was supposed to be about firsts for Quebec. With record voter turnout at over 70 per cent yesterday, it was among the highest ever for this province. Additionally, the people of Quebec elected our first ever female Premier, Pauline Marois, and the PQ was ushered into power through a minority government; the first ever such mandate for the PQ, as they have only ever governed this province with a majority.

Regrettably, however, this has been eclipsed by story that is not unfamiliar in Quebec -- a lone gunman acting out of hatred.

As the Parti Québécois gathered for their victory party, shots were fired from an AK 47 where two people were shot; one man died on the scene. Pauline Marois was quickly ushered off the stage, and authorities swiftly apprehended the shooter.

While the motives and the intended target of the PQ shooter currently remain unknown, it is alleged that he shouted, "The English are waking up!" as he was being hauled into the police cruiser. I would add that after this, we're all waking up. We have awoken from our dreamlike haze of deeply partisan election coverage and into a moral hangover of sorts, as we come to grips with what has happened.

People are quick to place blame in instances like this; whether the blame lies on guns, a fractured healthcare system that allows for those afflicted with mental health issues to slip through the cracks, or overtly partisan political rhetoric, is somewhat irrelevant at this point. A man is dead, another critically injured, while our entire province is in shock and mourning.

The truth is, this was indeed a politically charged and divisive election. Language and identity issues somehow managed to eclipse more substantive election concerns. From the onset of this election, the central theme was framed very much as "us" vs. "them."

If you were a Liberal supporter, the "us" was unequivocally federalist Quebecers who needed to show up at the polls in order to quell a PQ victory and the inevitable subsequent referendum on sovereignty. Likewise, if you were a PQ adherent, you probably recited the party's election slogan, "it's up to us to choose," insinuating that up until now, decisions were being made by people you considered foreign to the PQ assemblage. Thus, the discordant tone of the election self-evident from its inception.

We are all to blame. It's not something that is easy to come to terms with, but it is the reality of the situation. When the political discourse in this province reduces itself to a claptrap mélange of xenophobic remarks and intransigent reactions, the outcome is never good.

By hijacking the dialogue away from meaningful issues and towards a cacophony of obstinate conjecture, we end up with a political discourse that has very little basis in reality or facts; paving the way for those looking to incite acts of hatred or violence. This is evidenced by numerous examples, with perhaps the two most poignant being the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011 and the 77 massacred in Norway during July of that same year.

Providing such a stark polarized political climate is merely kindling for those wanting to fan the flames of hate. Let us all remember that regardless of our political affiliations, mother tongue, or skin colour, we are all Quebecers and we are in this together. It is up to "us" to make sure "they" don't take that away from us.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Richard Henry Bain

    Richard Henry Bain arrives at court in Montreal on Thursday, Sept.6, 2012. Bain, 61, the suspect in a deadly shooting at a rally following the election of Quebec’s new separatist premier was arraigned Thursday on 16 charges, including murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives. (AP Photo/Le Devoir via The Canadian Press, Jacques Nadeau) MONTREAL OUT

  • A gate blocks the entrance to Richard Henry Bain's fishing camp in La Conception, near Mont-Tremblant, Que. on Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. Police sources confirmed they arrested a suspect by that name in the Montreal shooting that left one person dead and made headlines around the world.

  • A three-axle military truck sits near the entrance to Richard Henry Bain's fishing camp in La Conception, near Mont-Tremblant, Que. on Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. Police sources confirmed they arrested a suspect by that name in the Montreal shooting that left one person dead and made headlines around the world.

  • Denis Blanchette, Pauline Marois, Ginette Jean

    Ginette Jean, mother of Denis Blanchette, reacts as she touches her son's casket during funeral services Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 in Montreal. Blanchette was killed outside the Parti Quebecois election night rally last week. Richard Bain was arraigned Thursday, Sept. 6 on 16 charges, including murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jocelyn Malette, Pool)

  • A man is arrested by police outside the Parti Quebecois victory rally in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. A masked gunman wearing a blue bathrobe opened fire during a midnight victory rally for Quebec's new premier, killing one person and wounding another. The new premier, Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois, was whisked off the stage by guards while giving her speech and uninjured. Police identified the gunman only as a 62-year-old man, and were still questioning him Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Montreal La Presse via The Canadian Press, Olivier Pontbriand)

  • A weapon is recovered at the scene of the shooting outside the Parti Quebecois' election victory party (RDI screen shot)

  • Fire burns outside Montreal's Métropolis concert hall shortly after the shooting. (QMI)

  • A man is arrested outside Montreal's Métropolis concert hall soon after shots were fired during PQ Leader Pauline Marois' victory speech. (QMI)

  • A police officer looks towards a black SUV that has had its contents removed on a crime scene outside the Metropolis in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

  • Police and fireman work at the rear of an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in Montreal. Guards whisked PQ leader Pauline Marois off the stage as handlers informed the partisan crowd there had been an explosive noise and they needed to clear the auditorium. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois takes the stage after winnnig the provincial election in Tuesday, Que. September 4, 2012. With the win, Marois becomes the first female premier in Quebec history. Moments later, she was rushed off the stage.

  • Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois is removed from the stage by SQ officers as she speaks to supporters in Montreal, Tuesday, September 4, 2012 following her election win. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

  • Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois is whisked off stage as she delivered her victory speech in Montreal, Que., Tuesday, September 4, 2012. With the win, Marois becomes the first female premier in Quebec history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • (RDI screenshot)

  • (RDI screenshot)

  • Police detail a person behind the Métropolis concert hall where Pauline Marois was making her victory speech (RDI screen shot)

  • Fire burns outside Montreal's Métropolis concert hall shortly after the shooting. (QMI)

  • Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois returns to complete her speech after being whisked off the stage by security as she delivered her victory speech in Montreal, Que., Tuesday, September 4, 2012. With the win, Marois becomes the first female premier in Quebec history.

  • Police cordon off the rear outside an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in Montreal. Guards whisked PQ leader Pauline Marois off the stage as handlers informed the partisan crowd there had been an explosive noise and they needed to clear the auditorium. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • Police and fireman work at the rear of an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • Police cordon off the rear outside an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in Montreal. Guards whisked PQ leader Pauline Marois off the stage as handlers informed the partisan crowd there had been an explosive noise and they needed to clear the auditorium. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • Police work on a crime scene outside the Metropolis in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

  • A police officer looks towards a black SUV that has had its contents removed at a crime scene outside the Metropolis in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

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  • Nathan Cullen

 

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