Quebec election hopefuls report intimidation tactics
Candidates from different parts of the province are reporting vandalism, anonymous phone calls
Aymeric St-Marseille says he received threatening phone calls and has found garbage strewn across his lawn in the lead up to the Nov. 3 elections.
Many of his election signs were defaced, as well.
The 22-year-old man is running as an independent for a seat on Boisbriand city council.
He’s been promising to clean up corruption in the city on the north shore — and he says that didn't sit too well with some people. Still, he says he won't back down from running for council.
"No, I'm not scared. If I was scared, I'd be handing them a victory," St-Marseille says.
He isn’t the first person running in the coming elections to report intimidation tactics.
Sgt. Daniel Thibodeau of the Sûreté du Québec says there have been more threats this year than for other elections in the past, especially on social media platforms.
He says all levels of government have been targeted in recent weeks.
“There are isolated cases in the past. Nothing at this level though. It’s increased quite substantially over the past few weeks, mostly online,” Thibodeau says.
Last week, Laval mayoral hopeful Claire LeBel said her campaign director — who has since stopped working on LeBel’s campaign -- was the victim of an attack after LeBel released a recording of a conversation she had with ex-Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt. In the recording, Vaillancourt offered to help finance LeBel’s campaign.
The Canadian Press reported last Friday that campaign director Rény Gagnon stepped down suddenly after the authenticity of his allegations were called into question.
Still, theToronto Star reported this weekend that candidates in Ste-Julienne and Lachute also said their property was recently vandalized.
Frédéric Lapointe of the Civic Action League is travelling across the province and meeting with candidates like St-Marseille.
"Broken windows, broken cars, broken political signs. Phone calls, people surrounding the houses. Things that are quite intimidating," Lapointe says.
He believes the attacks are linked to companies, individuals and members of organized crime trying to peddle influence, and says he hopes that they’ll stop if corruption in Quebec is curbed.
"When we win, when we get rid of bad governance and this kind of influence in our city, it's going to be back to a kind of peaceful, maybe dull political scene in Quebec," he says.
In terms of online threats, Thibodeau of the SQ says many of those responsible may be under the wrong impression they can make threats anonymously, and that arrests have already been made.
"These types of threats are taken seriously and can be prosecuted accordingly,” he says.