French, English militia groups butt heads in Quebec
Stephane Leman-Langlois is a professor at the University of Laval. His field of research is specialized in homegrown terrorism. (JEAN-CLAUDE TREMBLAY/QMI Agency)
French and English extremist groups have been entrenched in Quebec for years but a terrorism expert warns that things could soon turn violent.
Stephane Leman-Langlois, a researcher who specializes in homegrown terrorism, says such radical groups should be taken very seriously.
"There's definitely something brewing there," he warns, adding that the Sept. 4. Parti Quebecois election win could inflame linguistic tensions.
"If you look at the last 30 years of terrorism in Canada, whenever the sovereignist cause or language policies come back into the political arena, extremist groups on both sides endorse for acts of violence."
Police say it's possible that PQ leader and premier-elect Pauline Marois was the intended target of a deadly shooting during her victory speech earlier this month at a Montreal nightclub.
The man who shot and killed a lighting technician shouted "the English are waking up" as he was led away by police.
Richard Henry Bain faces 16 charges including first-degree murder after an arsenal of weapons and explosives was found in an SUV and at his home north of Montreal.
So far there's no indication Bain was a member of an organized extremist group but such groups have made threats against separatists in the past.
Last year a website called the Park Avenue Gazette called for an anti-Bill 101 protest and posted the phrase "hang Marois."
English-rights activist Hugo Shebbeare of the Office of the English Language subsequently received a death threat from the Milice patriotique quebecois (Quebec Patriotic Militia).
The MPQ is headquartered at an army surplus store in east-end Montreal. It has more than 2,000 members across Quebec according to its founder, Serge Provost. Members pay $100 for a uniform and three weapons.
Provost, who has given himself the rank of major, tells QMI Agency that the group's goals are clear.
"Allowing Quebec separatists to be able to train and mount a defense structure for the province of Quebec," he said. "If a gang comes to attack us ... at least we're organized and we know where we're going."
In April, Provost was charged with advising a group of people to commit a crime. He had previously pleaded guilty in 2003 to conspiracy, mischief and possession of an explosive substance.
Provincial police have said they're watching the extremists but the terrorism researcher remains skeptical.
"We're taking this too lightly," said Leman-Langlois. "Our governments have decided that the No. 1 threat is Muslim groups."