Polytechnique: the 30th anniversary of a Canadian tragedy
December 6, 1989, was a day of shattered innocence for the city of Montreal. The massacre of 14 women at the École Polytechnique by a gunman who later took his own life, destroyed families and deeply injured a community that was used to peace and safety.
The gunman walked into classrooms, through the halls, into offices, into the cafeteria, killing women along the way. In the first classroom he walked into, he instructed the men and women to separate, then let the men leave. He targeted only the women. His stated mission was to fight feminism. The men, apparently, walked out of the classroom without incident, leaving their classmates to their doom
A resident of the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood in Montreal has been ordered to keep away from the UQAM campuses while his criminal case is pending. Jean-Claude Rochefort, 71, is an anti-feminist blogger who was charged back in December with inciting hatred towards women according to the Montreal Gazette.
Rochefort was arrested in Montreal by police in December after a professor at UQAM filed a complaint against Rochefort allegedly posted a blog about Marc Lepine, the man behind the infamous Ecole Polytechnique mass shooting in 1989. It was a shooting that killed 14 women and injured 14 more. Just prior to the 30th anniversary of the shooting, Rochefort praised Lepine in a blog most and was consequently arrested.
Quebec Court Judge Alexandre Dalmau was informed that Rochefort wrote most of his blogs in English even though his native tongue is French on Friday. During his bail hearing in December, Rochefort was described by a prosecutor as having written some of the worst examples of inciting hatred. Rochefort was granted bail on Dec. 16 after agreeing to make a $200 deposit and post $2,000 bond. Along with conditions that required Rochefort to cancel any and all internet service providers.
Prosecutor Josian Laplante told reporters on Friday that she requested an additional condition, on behalf of the university that he not be permitted to enter on the campuses of UQAM given some of the references he made in his blog although there is no evidence that he had gone to the campuses any time recently.
“You have to understand that in the articles that were published there were references to a UQAM employee and the university asked that the employee be protected in some way. That is why the Crown and the defence consented to it,” Laplante said.
The case is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 21. Whether or not it will go to a trial will be determined after Laplante and Rochefort’s lawyer meet to discuss the possibility of a settlement. Rochefort has not denied that he was the one who wrote the blogs that led to his arrest. His charge is the wilful promotion of hatred of an identifiable group, between Sept. 1 and Dec. 5 2019, “by communicating statements, other than in private conversation.”
Rochefort was arrested back in 2009 just before the 20th anniversary of the Polytechnique shooting as well. Rochefort was arrested for uttering threats towards women through the use of his website in addition to posting a photo of an armed Lepine. The charge would eventually be dropped in 2010 however months later Rochefort plead guilty to possession of an unauthorized firearm. He was sentenced to two years of probation and 50 hours of community service.