Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has apologized for suggesting election-night shooter Richard Bain acted partly in response to heated political rhetoric in the province.
Bain was convicted of second-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder Tuesday for a 2012 shooting at the Metropolis, where then-Parti Québécois leader and premier-designate Pauline Marois was celebrating her election night victory with other members of her party.
A core part of the Crown's case was a note written by Bain during a session with a psychiatrist months after the shooting.
In the note, he wrote his "plan was to kill as many separatists as I could," adding that if his semi-automatic rifle didn't jam he wold have kept on shooting, and if he had found Marois, he "would have killed her."
PQ leader wants Barrette reined in
In a news release, interim PQ Leader Sylvain Gaudreault said he was "outraged" by Barrette's "unacceptable" comments.
"Are we to understand that [Barrette] wants to limit freedom of expression of sovereignist MNAs? The minister of health, who has already backtracked on his remarks, as he does too often, should take his own advice and think before he speaks," he said.
Gaudreault called for Premier Philippe Couillard to rein in his health minister.
Earlier in the day, Gaudreault said he spoke to Marois, who he said seemed relieved that the trial was over.
"But she is paying attention to what comes next, the sentencing," he added.
PQ MNA Harold Lebel told Radio-Canada it was Bain's "hatred" of sovereignists that led to the shooting.
"It's clear he wanted to eliminate sovereignists, and I am one. I've been very affected by this event since it happened," he said.
Why no terrorism charge?
Questions have been raised about why Bain wasn't charged with terrorism or with attempting to murder Marois, who was speaking to supporters as he began shooting.
Dennis Galiatsatos, the Crown prosecutor at the trial, said Bain's comments about wanting to kill separatists came to light only during the testimony of a defence witness.
He said he was appointed to the case after the charges had been filed.
"Would (the new evidence) have changed the nature of the accusations? Maybe, but I'd rather not speculate," he told reporters Tuesday shortly after the jury rendered its verdict.
"I'm very comfortable with the charges as they were and as I prosecuted them. "I think that's an accurate and fair depiction of the evidence that we had."
Bain's sentencing hearing is slated to begin Sept. 9.