Que. militia worries separatists

A Quebec paramilitary group planning to open a recruiting centre in downtown Montreal on Saturday is raising concerns among fellow separatists.

Hardline Québecois paramilitary group looks for recruits in Montreal

A Quebec paramilitary group is raising concerns among fellow separatists.

The Patriotic Militia of Quebec says it is looking for people willing to lay down their lives in defence of the people of Quebec and plans to open a recruiting centre in downtown Montreal on Saturday.

Militia members train in the snow in a promotional video. ((CBC))
In a promotional video, members of the militia practise with bows and arrows and do push-ups in the snow. They also practise hand-to-hand combat and appear to be carrying high-powered rifles.

The group claims to have about 25 regular members and hopes to recruit another 150 within the next year. They say over the past decade about 2,000 people have signed up to join the group but most do not participate regularly.

Militia organizers say their training camp offers a real military experience for the price of $29.

Organizers insist the group is non-violent and say they sometimes show up to help with the response to natural disasters. But founder Serge Provost insists the group needs to be prepared to defend Quebec if it is attacked.

"If we want to defend our people, we have no choice but to use the same weapons as our aggressors," Provost said, adding the group has applied to Quebec provincial police for permission to build a firing range.

Some mainstream separatist groups, including the Saint-Jean Baptiste Society, are uneasy with the militia.

Society president Mario Beaulieu says the militia has to be very precise about its mandate.

"When you present yourself as defending the territory and people of Quebec from eventual attack, I think it would be important to specify your mission," Beaulieu said. "Who exactly determines what an attack is?"

Although Beaulieu sees the group as harmless, he said the society would never associate itself with any group promoting violence.