Contentious Quebec election ends in violence

The separatist Parti Quebecois's victory party after winning provincial elections yesterday was cut short by violence after a gunman opened fire, killing one man and leaving another in critical condition. The gunman began shooting just as PQ leader Pauline Marois was stating her “firm conviction that Quebec needs to become a sovereign country,” according to the New York Times. The Toronto Star adds

According to one witness, his AK-47 rifle jammed.

As he was being led away, the alleged lone gunman shouted: “the anglos are waking up” in French with an English accent. Alternating between English and French he added: “There’s going to be f---ing payback. It’s enough. Wanna make trouble.”

The violence was a disturbing end to a very contentious campaign in which Marois sought to return the party to its separatist routes after years of backing away from the issue. While an independence referendum failed by an extremely narrow margin in 1995, polls show that there's little support, even among French speaking voters, for full Quebecois independence. 

Instead, like nationalist parties in Scotland and Catalonia,  the PQ seeks to use its mandate to gain increased autonomy and devolve more decision-making power down to the provincial level and expand laws mandating the use of French within Quebec. 

Though traditionally considered a left-wing party, Marois's platform seems like an intriquing hybrid of the Scottish National Party's separatism, the Greek Syriza's economic populism, and the Dutch Freedom Party's anti-immigrant cultural nationalism. She has worn a square of red fabric in solidarity with controversial student protests over a planned tuition increase.  She also favors forcing immigrants to take a French test before they can run for office and banning religious dress and symbols -- except for crucifixes -- for government workers. But despite her controversial platform -- which has alienated some in the PQ's traditional left-wing base -- Marois was able to ride a series of corruption and incompetence scandals involving the incumbent Liberals into the premier's office. 

It should get interesting.



Putin on Romney: I can work with him

Last week, I noted how the Russian press was positively livid over Mitt Romney's aggressive posture toward Russia.

Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin jumped into fray -- with a surprisingly measured response to a candidate who has asked whether Putin will  "bludgeon the countries of the former Soviet Union into submission, and intimidate Europe with the levers of its energy resources."

Asked by Russia's RT television whether he would be able to work with a President Romney, Putin smiled. "We'll work with whoever gets elected as president by the American people," he said. But he also tossed the ball in America's court, adding, "our effort will only be as efficient as our partners allow it to be." Here's the clip (RT will air the full interview on Thursday):

Putin's restraint is a bit surprising given that just last week, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, criticized Romney more pointedly for his assertion at the Republican convention that, if elected, he would show Putin "a little less flexibility and more backbone." U.S. and Russian officials have repeatedly "expressed their understanding that it is inadmissable for the bilateral ties to fall victim to pre-election debates," Peskov said.

Putin, it seems, is taking the high ground on this one. 

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images