Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kosovo blowback in Quebec?

In my March 24 entry titled “Canada and the recognition of Kosovo,” I argued that Ottawa’s decision to accord full diplomatic recognition to the former Serbian province could encourage separatist elements to turn to violence to promote their agenda, as the Kosovo case may have helped convince individuals that only through violence can the status quo be altered. In Canada's case, my fear mostly concerned separatists in the Province of Quebec.

Less than a month has passed, and today the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was reporting that the Regional Association of West Quebecers — a group that defends the rights of English speakers in Outaouais — received on Tuesday a second e-mail message, a “final warning” to cease and desist or else “they would put a little lead in their heads.” The e-mails came from a previously unknown organization calling itself the Ligue de défense nationale (“National Defense League”) and the “new” Front de la libération du Québec (FLQ), which conducted bombings in Montreal in the 1960s and sparked the October crisis in 1970 after it kidnapped British trade commissioner James Cross and later killed Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte.

While it is probably too soon to ascertain the veracity and seriousness of the threat — a task that police and security intelligence should soon undertake — it nevertheless supports the contention that groups or individuals, in earnest or deranged, may have reached the conclusion, as I stipulated, that only violence, or the threat of violence, will allow them to achieve their political objectives.

UPDATE: On April 11 the CBC received the following message from the group: “We believe that the peaceful action of the Quebec independence movement is not enough to defend the French language, the protection of Quebec territory in dealing with the threats of English people.”


Anonymous said...

This is frightening news for Québec...

MikeinTaipei said...

Dear Anonymous,

Well, like I wrote, it's too soon to know whether the threat is legitimate or not. But based on my own experience as (a) a Quebecer and (b) former security intelligence officer, what I can say is that there are some hardcore nutcases out there on French Quebec who could end up hurting someone in their quest to "protect" the language. Gun regulations being what they are in Canada, it would be more difficult, though not impossible, for groups or individuals to optain dangerous weapons — especially on the black market or via criminal organizations like the Hell's Angels and Rock Machines, or corrupt officials at airports and other ports of entry.