It took ten years, but we finally know how and why the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) acted like pee-wee police on September 4, 2012 when Pauline Marois escaped a political attack on election night.
Everything about this affair oozed amateurism.
That Richard Henry Bain was able to park his vehicle behind the theater on the evening of the PQ election party was already the sign of incredible negligence.
That Bain was able to get out of his chariot in a dressing gown, a long gun in his hand, without being spotted; that he was able to walk to the back door of the Metropolis without ever meeting a policeman; that he was able to shoot employees and start a fire against the back door, all of that is unacceptable…
Worthy of a village police.
I had denounced this laxity shortly after the political attack of which Mr.me Marshes (1). And after Bain’s conviction, I had criticized (2) that the SQ had been able to investigate his own conduct that evening. Let’s see! I was indignant that the report could have remained secret. Never understood that.
Not only had a man attempted to assassinate the Prime Minister-elect, but two stage technicians had also been hit by the assailant’s bullets. Denis Blanchette died of it; Dave Courage was seriously injured.
But the Quebec state being what it is – opacity is the norm – the SQ was able to investigate the conduct of the SQ, and the SQ was conveniently able to hide the conclusions of the investigation.
For comparison, in 2013 and 2014, the US Secret Service – tasked with protecting the President of the United States – was plagued by several security breaches surrounding President Obama. The icing on the cake: on September 19, 2014, a man armed with a knife managed to jump over the barriers surrounding the White House and enter the building before being stopped by a guard.
What happened afterwards?
Two weeks later (3), the head of the Secret Service was summoned to explain herself to the American Congress. Her scripted and evasive responses earned her “resigned,” meaning she submitted her resignation before being fired.
In Quebec ? None of that, ladies and gentlemen.
It took ten years for us to know what happened, thanks to a lawsuit brought by Metropolis employees still traumatized by the attack. The lawsuit targets the SQ and the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal.
The victims’ lawyer, Mr.and Virginie Dufresne-Lemire insisted that the famous SQ report be presented in evidence. The lawyer for the Attorney General of Quebec, who represents the State, vigorously opposed it, judging that the report is not relevant in this case…
The judge allowed the lawyers to read the report and quote it. What emerges is disconcerting police stupidity. And we learn that:
- the report is only seven pages;
- he does not blame the SQ;
- no witnesses were met during the “investigation”;
- it is simply a matter of “linkage problems” with “external partners”;
- Officer Louis Bergeron, who wrote the report, does not recognize his own words and cannot certify that he wrote parts of them;
- the mandate to investigate the Metropolis attack was only given four months later, in 2013, to the new head of the personal protection unit, Denis Rioux.
The most stunning?
When he was given the mandate to “investigate” the Metropolis, Denis Rioux also had his conclusions dictated to him, in advance. I recount here an exchange between Judge Philippe Bélanger and Denis Rioux, as reported by Louis-Samuel Perron, of The Presslast Thursday (4).
The judge: “The warrant seemed to telegraph the conclusions. It seems that the conclusions of the report were already somewhat dictated…”
Response from Denis Rioux: “Yes. »
A death, a serious injury, traumatized and a PM who escapes death: the SQ treats it as if its cafeteria had a heating problem.
The person in charge of security at Metropolis for the SQ that evening, Daniel Rondeau, came to tell the Court that there was no error by the SQ in 2012. No reason to put police armed behind the Metropolis, Your Honor, since we had no knowledge of any threats against Pauline Marois!
Message to all those who would like to assassinate a Prime Minister in Quebec: do not make direct threats, then go through the back door, our very provincial police will not suspect anything. You can even do it in a dressing gown, you won’t even attract attention…
I know that the SQ circulated the idea that it was up to the SPVM to protect the perimeter, therefore to guard the back door. The SPVM deemed that it was not necessary, which is a completely insane approach.
But in the end, who has the responsibility to make sure our PM doesn’t get shot?
It’s up to her to take ALL the means so that it doesn’t happen.
Has the SQ learned from 2012?
No: the current person in charge of the protection of dignitaries, Pierre Bertrand, came to say this to the Court (5), about the methods of protection for the next campaign: “The basic security plan will be the same. […] The recipe is the same from 2012 to 2022.”
Tsé, it worked so well, in 2012, the “recipe”!
In the airline industry, we try to learn as much as possible about the reasons for a crash, to avoid a recurrence. We find the black box and reconstruct the plane outright with the debris. Thus, over the decades, by dint of learning from its mistakes, civil aviation has become extremely safe.
We, after the Metropolis, we let the SQ bury the black box…
Question for the chosen ones: do you wait until one of you gets shot before demanding better protection? By not hounding the SQ on its Metropolis gaffe, you sent it the signal that it did nothing wrong: its “recipe” for protection is the same, ten years later.
A little reminder: the only reason that prevented Bain from going to the end of his madness was not the good work of the SQ. That’s because Bain’s gun jammed.
Luck is not a game plan, but the Metropolis episode shows that the SQ is careless enough to count on it in the protection of our PM.