Quebec's National Assembly beefs up security as MNAs deal with surge in threats

·2 min read
According to provincial police, there has been an increase in the number of threats made against Quebec MNAs in the last year.  (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press - image credit)
According to provincial police, there has been an increase in the number of threats made against Quebec MNAs in the last year. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press - image credit)

In recent months, a Quebec MNA in the Beauce region has alerted police to at least 20 threatening messages he's received — and he's not alone.

MNAs have dealt with a surge in hateful and threatening messages during the pandemic and, as a result, security protocols in and around the National Assembly have been beefed up.

"[The messages include] 'I'll find you! I'll track you down! I'm waiting for you!'," said Samuel Poulin, an MNA with the Coalition Avenir Québec who represents the Beauce-sud riding.

"You have to go into a shell because you can always imagine the worst."

A few days ago, spray-painted messages appeared on the side of a road near Poulin's riding office, targeting Premier François Legault and Health Minister Christian Dubé.

"You destroyed my family, I will demolish yours," read the message that also referenced Denis Lortie, the man who killed three people and injured 13 others during a 1984 shooting at the National Assembly.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

On Tuesday, the legislature is sitting for the first time since June. There will be extra security, and in some cases, police escorts will be offered to politicians.

Since the last time MNAs got together, the Quebec government has implemented a vaccination passport.

The government has also given health-care workers the deadline of Oct. 15 to be adequately vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk being suspended without pay — moves that have angered many Quebecers and sparked protests.

According to the Sûreté du Québec, the number of files it has opened regarding threats against elected officials has increased significantly in the last year.

Liberal MNA Enrico Ciccone also filed a complaint with police. He told Radio-Canada he once received a message that read: "You better not be walking down the street."

Alexandre Leduc, a Québec Solidaire MNA for the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve riding, says he became a target of threats in May.

Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada
Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada

Groups were organizing a protest against the province's public health restrictions, and Leduc urged them to do so away from the Olympic stadium, which is used as a vaccination site.

"It put a spotlight on me and my team," Leduc said. "We had to reach out to the protection service of the SQ when we were being told 'You better hide, we're going to find you.'"

Leduc said the threats forced him to ask his partner to stay at her parents' home with their children for a few days.

Local police officers check up on Poulin from time to time, and he says he doesn't fear for his safety, but the MNA acknowledges he sometimes regrets having gone into politics.

"The vast majority of people understand that we didn't sign up for this [pandemic]," says Poulin. "Even if we are in disagreement, even if you're not vaccinated or don't believe in public health rules... respect is a must."

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