Quebec election victory overshadowed by gunman killing 1, starting fire


Pauline Marois, chief of the Parti Quebecois, pictured in December 2008 celebrating with her supporters after the elections results announced at Olympia theater in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Liberal Premier Jean Charest won a majority in those elections in Quebec.



A gunman reportedly killed one and wounded another during a victory speech by Quebec's newly-elected premier, Pauline Marois, in Montreal late Tuesday.

Police rushed the 62-year-old Marois from the stage of a Montreal concert hall when the shots rang out, CBC said.

Marois, leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois who will be the first female premier of Quebec after winning Tuesday's vote in Canada's French-speaking province, was not harmed in the shooting.

According to CBC, the shooter entered the venue where Marois was speaking via a back door about 15 feet from the stage.

The man killed was a stage technician not involved with the political party, the Montreal Gazette reported.

He was waiting for the speech to end in order to dismantle the audio and video equipment.

The second victim, who also worked as a stage technician, was treated at hospital; staff said his condition wasn't life threatening.

Witnesses said that the gunman's rifle (possibly an AK-47) jammed or more people would have been hurt.

"We were about 12 feet away – if it didn't jam, we could have all been (hit)," the witness said, according to the Gazette. "I lost a work colleague and another one was seriously injured because of this psychopath."

Security whisked Marois off stage when the shots were fired and the club evacuated, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The suspect, a man from outside Montreal, also set a small fire in a dumpster that was quickly extinguished, the Gazette said.

As he was being escorted away by police, the suspect reportedly shouted in French, "The English are waking up."

However, Constable Danny Richer told CBC that police did not know what prompted the shooting and would interview the suspect overnight.

Marois, who replaces Liberal Jean Charest, Quebec's leader for nearly a decade, later returned to thank her supporters.

The Associated Press cited Quebec's official election website as showing that preliminary results gave Parti Quebecois almost 32 percent of the vote and 54 seats, while the Liberals had about 31 percent of the vote and 50 seats.

Charest did not win his seat in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

A party needed 63 seats in the 125-seat legislature to win a majority government.

Third place Coalition avenir Québec won 19 seats while Québec Solidaire earned two seats.

CAQ formed just last year and said it wants to focus on the economy; party leaders have asked Quebecers to forget about a sovereignty vote for at least 10 years, QMI Agency reported.

Although opinion polls showing little popular support for secession from Canada, Parti Quebecois's push for a transfer of powers from the federal government suggested independence was still firmly on its agenda.

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