Judge in Quebec election shooting trial given details of threats against PQ leader

Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois is whisked off stage as she delivered her victory speech in Montreal, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Lawyers for the Quebec government have submitted details in court about six threats made against former Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois on the day of the 2012 provincial election, a civil trial heard Monday.

The threats were discussed by witnesses in a lawsuit brought before the Quebec Superior Court by four stagehands who were working at the downtown venue where Marois gave her victory speech on Sept. 4, 2012.

A gunman shot dead lighting technician Denis Blanchette outside the venue, and a second technician, David Courage, was injured after he was struck by the same bullet that killed his colleague.

The plaintiffs are colleagues of those two men and are suing the City of Montreal and Quebec’s attorney general for more than $600,000, alleging police failed to properly secure the venue and evaluate the risks associated with the event. They say they suffered post-traumatic stress and other psychological damage due to the shooting.

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Provincial police have defended the measures they took on election night, and police witnesses have described the attack as an undetectable, unpredictable act.

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Details of the threats against Marois were provided by Quebec provincial police in a sworn statement after an exhaustive search ordered by the judge. Justice Philippe Bélanger told lawyers on Monday he was satisfied with the information, indicating that four of the six threats against the former premier were made on social media. Two threats involved 14-year-olds.

The details of the threats were not discussed during a brief hearing on Monday, and the document will only be filed in court later this month.

The threats against the PQ leader came to light in a confidential provincial police assessment about the night of the shooting that had never been made public until it was filed during the trial.

Belanger had sought the information after witnesses appearing before him weren’t able to provide any details about the threats. Notably, those officers charged with security for the PQ leader weren’t made aware of the threats until after the incident.

The court had already heard that none of the six threats were linked to the man who carried out the attack on Sept. 4, 2012.

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The trial will resume at the end of May to hear closing arguments.

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