|Date||May 8, 1984|
|Location(s)||Quebec City, Quebec, Canada|
|Target(s)||National Assembly of Quebec|
Denis Lortie is a former Canadian army corporal. In 1984, he stormed into the National Assembly of Quebec building and opened fire with several firearms, killing three Quebec government employees and wounding 13 others.
Cpl. Lortie was a Supply Technician in the Canadian Forces and was disgruntled with a number of policies of the Quebec and federal governments. He planned a killing spree as a means of broadcasting his discontent.
Prior to the shooting
On May 7 of that year, Lortie left the CFS Carp military base (better known as the Diefenbunker) pretending that he needed time off to arrange a divorce with his wife. Instead, he rented a car, drove to Quebec City and took a guided tour of the Parliament Building. He then rented a room in a motel on Laurier Boulevard for the night.
The next day, at 9:30 a.m., Lortie walked into CJRP radio station in Quebec City and dropped off a sealed envelope containing an audiotape for one of the station's hosts, André Arthur. He instructed the radio staff not to open the envelope until 10:30 a.m. but they opened it anyway, discovering that it was a statement of Lortie's plans, in which he declared, "The government now in power is going to be destroyed." However, by the time radio staff contacted police, Lortie's plan had already been put into action.
At 9:45 a.m., Lortie entered the Parliament Building through a side door located on Grande-Allée. He was dressed in combat fatigues and armed with two C-1 Submachine guns and an Inglis pistol. As he entered the building, he shot at a receptionist, then killed a messenger whom he encountered in a corridor. He then went into a smoking room and shot at the people there before moving to the cafeteria, but finally found his way into the Assembly Chamber.
Based on later testimony, it is clear that he intended to assassinate Premier René Lévesque and other members of the governing Parti Québécois. His plan was to enter the Assembly Chamber during the parliamentary committee meeting, which was starting at 10:00 that morning. However, instead of using a watch, Lortie timed his attack by listening to CJRP and waited for the station's host, André Arthur, to end his segment. Fortunately, on that day, André Arthur ended his broadcast 20 minutes early, leading Lortie to enter the building and make his way to the Assembly Chamber while it was mostly empty. Lortie opened fire on the government employees still inside the Assembly Chamber, killing two and wounding 13 others. No politicians were killed or wounded.
The National Assembly's Sergeant-at-Arms, René Jalbert, was informed that there was a man with a gun in the Assembly Chamber. Upon stepping out of the elevator, Lortie fired at him. Seeing that Lortie was in a military uniform, Jalbert told him that he too had been a soldier with the Van Doos (slang for the Royal 22e Régiment), and that if Lortie would allow it, he would show him his discharge card. Lortie agreed, after which Jalbert persuaded him to show his own identification.
After this exchange, Jalbert persuaded Lortie to come into his office to discuss the matter, and release the other civilians in the Assembly Chamber. Jalbert talked to Lortie for over four hours, ultimately persuading him to surrender to military police (since he was unwilling to surrender to civilian police) at 14:22. For his heroic act which likely prevented further death, the Canadian government awarded Jalbert the Cross of Valour several months later.
The following were killed in the shooting:
- Georges Boyer
- Camille Lepage
- Roger Lefrançois
One of the factors contributing to the crime was the easy access that Lortie had to both weapons and ammunition. Unlike other non-combat Canadian Forces bases, the CFS Carp "Diefenbunker" did not have room for separate weapons and ammunition lockers.
According to psychiatrist Pierre Mailloux, who was assigned to the case, Lortie suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had organized his crime during a psychotic episode, believing that he was acting on instructions given to him from God. Nevertheless, in 1985, Lortie was convicted of first-degree murder, but a new trial was ordered due to legal errors. Lortie pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree murder in 1987.
Lortie was paroled in December 1995. He now lives in Quebec and works in construction.
- quote from a tour guide, Carp Diefenbunker Museum, 2009
- CBC Archives
- French article in the newspaper Le Soleil describing the events
- French web article about the events
- Article at Time Magazine
- French article describing the event on its 20th anniversary in 2004