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Bulletproof vests, heightened security as Quebec party leaders campaign across province


Party leaders in Quebec are being surrounded by heightened security as they spread out across the province, campaigning ahead of the Oct. 3 election.

"We can't hide the fact that there's been a change in the political climate in Quebec," said Parti Québécois (PQ) Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. "I was given a bulletproof vest, for example."

The matter is especially sensitive, said Plamondon, as the party nears the 10-year anniversary of the election night shooting at the victory party for former Quebec Premier Pauline Marois.

A man was killed and another was injured after a gunman opened fire outside the Metropolis concert hall as Marois was delivering her victory speech to PQ supporters on Sept. 4, 2012.

Threats against Quebec's MNAs -- both in person and online -- soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing an increase in security at the legislature amid concerns for their safety.

However, not all party leaders say they've been provided additional protection.

"I worked in Iraq in my past life. I've never been scared; I've never been worried about it," said Quebec Conservative Party (PCQ) Leader Éric Duhaime. "I didn't get any instructions by the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). I do not have any security guards, and that's fine with me."

He muses police may not be worried about him compared to other party leaders "because I don't represent a threat."

In addition, both Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) Leader François Legault and Québec Solidaire Co-Spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois stated they would not discuss specifics regarding their security detail.

"The discussions I have with the SQ must stay confidential," stated Legault.

Nadeau-Dubois agreed, saying, "The SQ asked all of the leaders not to give too many details, not to comment on this...I'm not afraid."

The Quebec Liberals (PLQ) said they trust that the SQ knows what it is doing.

"It's up to them to evaluate how much security we need," said Leader Dominique Anglade.

Despite the extra precautions, the parties say they don't believe this will greatly change their campaign strategies -- allowing voters to get up close and personal with their potential elected officials.

Talk about heightened security for politicians comes on the heels of an incident in Alberta over the weekend, where Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was verbally accosted.

The RCMP has now opened an investigation into the incident.

The incident proves all elected officials need a security detail, said André Durocher, a retired Montreal police (SPVM) inspector and member of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's security detail.

"I don't know what the federal government is waiting for," he said. "When we saw the situation with Chrystia Freeland a few days ago -- are they going to wait for something to happen? I think, in that case, I salute, raise my hat, to the Sûreté du Québec."

Durocher points out the SQ learned a lot from the Metropolis shooting.

"Obviously, the investigation showed that the security was not adequate and I have seen it with my former policeman's eyes. I've seen it that they have learned a lesson and you can see that the security is a lot tighter," he said. 

-- with files from CTV News' Max Harrold and Iman Kassam and The Canadian Press. Top Stories

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