They effectively stopped the federal government from recreating the battle on the Plains of Abraham last fall, but they’re not stopping there. Already, the members of Réseau de Résistance du Québec are planning their next coup d’état: an “assault” on the “bastille” of Quebec’s Caisse de dépôt et placements.
On May 11, the RRQ, which has seen its membership rolls soar since foiling plans to re-enact the British victory over the French in 1759, will lead what organizers call a “sans-culottes” revolt—so named after France’s working class during the French Revolution. This time the target is disgraced public pension fund manager La Caisse, “a marvellous institution that has become the ultimate symbol of economic exploitation of Quebec by bandits in suits and ties.”
Formed in 2007 over pints and righteous anger in a Quebec City bar, the RRQ is led by Patrick Bourgeois, a fiery pamphleteer and orator who recently said that he’d “be happy to see Quebec’s trash-radio stations burn to the ground.” At a recent RRQ meeting, some members expressed nostalgia for the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), the terrorist organization responsible for unleashing the October Crisis in 1970. Just the possibility of violence was enough for the National Battlefields Commission to put an end to the Plains of Abraham recreation, a cancellation that brought new-found media attention to the RRQ, which Bourgeois says now has 600 members. “It had a huge impact for us.”
Still, Bourgeois says he doesn’t want the RRQ to become the FLQ incarnate. “It would hurt the separatist cause, because Quebecers aren’t used to that sort of radicalization,” he says. Rather, he espouses civil disobedience as a political tool. Thus he assures that at next month’s “assault” in Montreal, protests, not violence, will rule the day.