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1984: Gunman kills 3 at Quebec legislature

The Story

"The government now in power is going to be destroyed." Those are the words of Denis Lortie, a Canadian soldier who walked into the Quebec National Assembly carrying a sub-machine gun. He killed three people and wounded 13 others. Just before his shooting spree, he had dropped off a tape at a local radio station explaining his plans to destroy the Parti Québécois. In this report from CBC's The National, journalist Tom Kennedy describes the day's chilling events.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 8, 1984
Guests: Maritchu D'Abbadie, Bernard Paradis, David Payne
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Tom Kennedy
Duration: 2:54

Did You know?

• Denis Lortie arrived at the National Assembly at around 9:45 a.m. on May 8, 1984. He entered through a side door. Witnesses say he shouted, "Where are the MNAs, I want to kill them."

• In his efforts to destroy the Parti Québécois, Denis Lortie killed three government employees: Georges Boyer, Camille Lepage and Roger Lefrançois. He did not kill or wound any politicians.

• The Assembly's sergeant-at-arms, René Jalbert, heroically stepped in to calm Lortie. He offered him a coffee and a sandwich, then talked him into letting everyone else go. According to a May 9, 1984 Globe and Mail article, most of the National Assembly staff credited Jalbert for saving their lives. "We will never forget what Mr. Jalbert did," said one staff member. Several months later, Canada awarded Jalbert the Cross of Valour for his bravery in this situation.

• Jalbert died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 74.

• Prior to Lortie's shooting spree, the Quebec National Assembly had fairly lax security. Because of Lortie's actions, the Quebec government and other legislatures in the country instituted much tighter security processes.

• In 1985, Lortie was convicted of first-degree murder. But due to a judge's errors, a new trial was ordered. Lortie pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree murder in 1987.

• Lortie was let out of prison on parole in 1996. According to a 2004 Canadian Press story, he then lived in the province of Quebec and worked in construction. His strict parole conditions mean he had to report to Correctional Services Canada regularly.

• When Marc Lepine killed 14 women in 1989 at Montreal's École Polytechnique (commonly known as the Montreal Massacre), Lepine left a note that mentioned Denis Lortie.


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