The strange case of Denis Lortie

Admittedly not an event which occurred in Montréal, but given our history of shoot-ups at various local institutions, something we should nonetheless pay attention to. Mr. Lortie walked into the National Assembly on May 8th 1984 and filled it with led from a 9mm sub-machine gun. He killed three and wounded thirteen. He was a serving corporal in the Canadian Forces, and a paranoid schizophrenic who had been abused by his tyrannical father, and was further involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister that ended with her pregnancy.

Lortie’s weapons were Canadian Forces standard issue, and when he made his way into the National Assembly, there was no one present who had the means to stop him. It took the courageous actions of the Sargent-at-Arms, René Jalbert, to talk Lortie out of his inssane plan. After the fact, it was discovered he had planned to wipe out the governing Parti Québecois, including Premier René Lévesque.

Lortie was apparently paroled in December 1995, and there hasn’t been much info on him since. But the question as to whether armed security forces ought to be stationed at government and institutional buildings as a means to prevent an attack, whether by lone gunmen or terrorists, has never really been addressed on a national and local basis. Granted, there was an increase in general security after 9/11. But calls for armed guards at Concordia University or in the Métro, as an example, have also fallen by the wayside.

What is the better option. Posted armed guards or an enhanced police presence? What’s more effective, a security apparatus designed to fade into the background until required, seamlessly interwoven into general society, or the deliberate statement of force and security? What do you think?

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