Montreal

Father of Quebec City mosque shooter urges Trudeau to stop calling his son a terrorist

Raymond Bissonnette says while his son Alexandre's crimes were "of the most terrible kind," he had no terrorist connection "nor any particular ideology."

Raymond Bissonnette says son Alexandre had no terrorist connection 'nor any particular ideology'

Raymond Bissonnette, right, wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop referring to his son, Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette, as a terrorist. (Alice Chiche/Radio-Canada)

The father of the Quebec City mosque shooter is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others to stop referring to his son as a terrorist.

In an open letter to Trudeau, Raymond Bissonnette says the label has "greatly increased" the danger to his family.

He says while his son's crimes were "of the most terrible kind," he had no terrorist connection "nor any particular ideology."

Alexandre Bissonnette was sentenced in February to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 40 years for killing six worshippers and injuring six others at a mosque in January 2017.

He was not charged with terrorism, but Trudeau and others have referred to his actions in those terms.

Raymond Bissonnette wrote that making the terrorism link has had an impact on his family.

"I consider that the repeated statements labelling Alexandre Bissonnette as a 'terrorist' have already caused serious harm to my family," he wrote.

Intent was to instill fear and terror, says Goodale

In response to the letter, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called Alexandre Bissonnette's actions appalling and said Canadians aren't interested in arguing over semantics.

"He must bear the consequences of his conduct," Goodale said Friday.

"His intent was to instill fear and terror in the hearts of Canadians."

Last month, Foreign Affairs Minister ChrystiaFreeland told a United Nations debate on terrorism financing that "two years ago, a terrorist killed six people in a Quebec City mosque."

The night of the shooting, Trudeau described it as a "terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge."

Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March 2018 to six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder after he walked into the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017 and opened fire during evening prayers.

Alexandre Bissonnette was sentenced in February to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 40 years. Both the Crown and the defence are appealing the sentence. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The slain men were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

Both the Crown and defence have appealed the sentence.

The Crown, which initially sought six consecutive life sentences amounting to 150 years, said the sentence handed down was too lenient and wants him to be ineligible for parole for 50 years.

The defence countered that the sentence was cruel and unusual punishment, and Bissonnette should be able to apply for parole in 25 years.

The Quebec Court of Appeal is not expected to hear arguments before January 2020.