By now many of our readers will have heard of the tragic events in Quebec City a couple nights ago. Now that the investigations are progressing, and the facts are becoming sorted out from a confusion of early reports, it is time to say something. Fortunately for those of us who live in Canada, mass shootings are rare. In many ways that does make it more horrifying. We generally have the attitude that it is a uniquely American phenomena, and when that false security gets torn away couple years or so it does give us a shock.
As to the shooting itself, amid the confusion of early reports were some that it was Muslim on Muslim violence involving as many as 3 shooters. Eventually it was found that it was the action of only one man, a French-Canadian Christian. Along with the other details it was noted that he is a “supporter” of Donald Trump. While many have given this Trump connection the spotlight, that is actually an oversimplification of motives which are likely to be much more deeply rooted.
In Canada, there has been a cottage industry of anti-immigrant bigotry since the very beginning. Policies of exclusion and special taxation of Chinese continued until the 1960’s. There has also in recent years been a marked rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. While most easily associate Ezra Levant and his Rebel Media, these sentiments came to the fore during the term of the Harper era Conservative party. With proposed niqab bans, “Canadian values” tests for citizenship, even a proposed “barbaric cultural practices” police hotline; all made for a very nasty tone during the 2015 election. Canadians rejected those proposals by a very wide margin, but those who supported them remain.
Those proposals got a lot of attention in the Eastern Townships and Quebec City area in particular. In that region there is a sense of what is called “puire laine” or pure line meaning those descended from the original French settlers of Quebec. To an extent, outsiders have always been looked at with a great deal of suspicion. As a child, my father had been transferred cross country. Being English speaking while driving through the Eastern Townships in September of 1970 was a very unpleasant experience. A month later due to terrorism by the FLQ, martial law was declared. The same sentiments about outsiders echo to this day, albeit focused on non-whites, particularly Muslims.
Yes, the shooter liked Trump and LePen on his Facebook page. And possibly the recent events concerning immigration and refugees may have indeed been the final straw. But the underlying sentiments are much deeper than that.