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1 Shot Dead At Rally For New Quebec Premier


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm David Greene.

At least one person is dead and another wounded in what appears to have been a political assassination attempt in the Canadian province of Quebec early this morning. The shooting came early this morning, a day after the province's separatist party returned to power. The leader of the Parti Quebecois, which is seeking Quebec independence, was giving an election victory speech in Montreal when shots were fired at her in a Montreal theater.

Now, to get the latest on this incident we go to Sue Montgomery, a political reporter with the Montreal Gazette.

Sue, good morning.

SUE MONTGOMERY: Good morning.

GREENE: Can you just take us through the events in this hall early this morning? What exactly happened?

MONTGOMERY: Well, Pauline Marois, who had won minority government, was giving her victory speech, and all of a sudden this man walked into the theater and took shots at her, and in the process, shot two other people. One man is dead and another one is in critical condition.

Now, outside police had grabbed some guy, and as he was being taken to the police car, he said, in French, Anglos - which English people are called here - Anglos wake up. And then in English he said, it's payback time.

GREENE: Wow. OK. So - what do we know about this shooter so far? You said he was yelling something like English wake up.

MONTGOMERY: Yeah. We don't know anything other than the fact he was 50, he's been arrested, he'll be arraigned - that means formally charged. Yeah. So, as the police were leading him to the police car he yelled, in French, you know, Anglophones(ph) wake up, and, it's payback time.

GREENE: We understand that the separatist party ran a pretty divisive campaign, as they won a minority government last night. Is there a lot of anxiety among the English minority in Quebec about this victory? I mean, could this shooting represent some kind of mood in the province?

MONTGOMERY: Well, I'm hoping that it's an isolated incident and this person is mentally ill, which is usually the case when you have a shooting like this. But I would be lying if I said there wasn't anxiety among the community. For sure there is. We've been going through this for many, many years, a fear of separation, fear of referendum. The last referendum we had was in 1995. And we barely came out of that alive.

So, you know, people are worried about the financial situation here. Quebec is one of the most indebted provinces in the country. And I think that this separatist party is just going to add to the insecurity in the province and the financial woes.

And when the led their campaign, they came out with things like they wanted to ban religious symbols in the public service, except for the Roman Catholic crucifix. They wanted to extend the charter of the French language so businesses with very low number of employees would have to operate completely in French. So there were all these rules that were going to be coming in. That created a feeling among the Anglophone community, which is a minority here, that perhaps they would not be welcomed.

GREENE: Sue, you just used the term barely came out of it alive last time that there was a referendum tried. And, I mean, unfortunately we should say there has been street violence in the past when this issue has come up.

MONTGOMERY: Well, in 1995, there was. But, I mean, we haven't really seen violence since the 1970s when there was a crisis. But despite the differences between Anglophones and Francophones here, it has been peaceful. But I have to say, I've been living here for 26 years and I haven't felt this kind of anxiety among the English community since I've lived here, like I did during this election campaign.

But that being said, you know, I don't think anybody is, you know, on the verge of picking up weapons and shooting people. I mean, I think that that is - like this is the work of a madman and has to be separated from what everyone else is feeling.

GREENE: All right, Sue. I'm sure you'll be covering the story as it goes forward. Thank you so much for talking to us.

MONTGOMERY: You're welcome. Thank you.

GREENE: That's Sue Montgomery. She's a political reporter for the Montreal Gazette, and she was speaking to us from Montreal about what appears to have been a political assassination attempt early this morning in Quebec. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.