Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Accused Quebec shooter to undergo psych report

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MONTREAL -- The accused Quebec election-night shooter is being sent for a psychiatric evaluation after delivering a lengthy rant in court Friday about how he was sent on a mission by Jesus Christ to rid Quebec of its "separatist problem."

Richard Henry Bain appeared in a Montreal courtroom for what was supposed to have been a routine date-setting. Bain entered the courtroom wearing a white T-shirt and delivered a greeting, both upon his arrival and before exiting, reminiscent of a priestly message to a congregation: "May God bless you all," he said as he entered and left the room.

He began his monologue by telling the court he wanted to recognize what he called a holy day of remembrance -- the Dec. 7 anniversary of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.

Bain ignored repeated requests from Quebec court Judge Robert Marchi to stop veering off-topic and focus on the question from his lawyer: Do you understand why you are here?

"I am a Christian soldier and... we will never surrender to fight the evil separatists," the 62-year-old suspect said in a deep voice. "I fight for freedom, democracy, justice and to speak one's mother's tongue."

He referred to Jesus several times and described a messianic mission in which Christ had chosen him as his ambassador: "I am here today because my lord and saviour has given me his vision of peace and harmony for all Canadians," he said. "This national separatist problem, that has been going on for 45 years, will be no more."

The fishing-lodge owner faces 16 charges, including first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, arson and a number of weapons charges stemming from the Sept. 4 incident in which two people were shot and one was killed.

Bain said he understood he's charged with the murder of Denis Blanchette, a 48-year-old stagehand at the PQ's victory rally, who was shot outside Montreal's Metropolis concert hall.

After the monologue, the judge hearing the case agreed a psychiatric assessment was necessary. Bain will return to court on Dec. 17.

The question of whether the election-night shooting had been motivated by politics or madness -- or both -- has been a subject of speculation.

On Friday, Montreal's Le Devoir carried an opinion piece arguing that English-language media were to blame for inspiring the killer's actions. It went on to suggest the shooting revealed, "maybe more than we think about the Canadian political reality."

Prominent politicians have been more tight-lipped. However, Premier Pauline Marois has made news by weighing in on the case. She told a television show she believes she may have been the target of a political assassination attempt on election night.

She added that mental-health issues alone couldn't explain the incident. "The person could have had serious psychological problems, for sure. But the fact is that when he acted, he acted against a sovereigntist while expressing his concerns for anglophones."

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2012 A22

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