On Tuesday, November 3rd, more than seventy schools across Quebec were targeted with bomb threats, having received an upsetting e-mail that morning. The message, sent by a mysterious group called Le Sceptre Rouge, was meant as a pressure tactic to put an end to the rotating teacher strikes that have been in process since the end of October. Le Sceptre Rouge’s campaign, “Four Days of Death”, was launched in the name of denouncing the so-called terrible conditions imposed upon students by the strike, which removes from schools both “proper learning” and “joy”, according to the group. They refer to the union strike as “a stupid argument over payment”, that is “horrible”, and for which Le Spectre Rouge “will have no tolerance”. They proceeded to mention that six bombs were placed in random educational institutions, as well as in two school buses. Many daycares, elementary and secondary schools, and colleges were evacuated as a precaution.
It didn’t take long for the group, whose actions correspond to an act of terrorism, to lose credibility. Their e-mail was filled with grammatical mistakes. A Quebecois teacher, Étienne Forest, corrected their threats, finding more than twenty errors within the note. He comments, “Instead of blowing up schools, [they] should go visit one. It would be very instructive”. Forest’s whimsical approach to the situation made it all over social media on Wednesday, November 4th, turning the bomb threats into a bit of a joke.
Also on November 4th, four teenagers from Chelsea, Wakefield, and Ange-Gardien, all aged either 16 or 17, were arrested in relation to similar bomb threats that had occurred in the Outaouais area on October 28th and 29th. The following day, the Surété du Québec confirmed the link between the two events. The suspects were originally charged only with mischief, but when the connection was made with the province-wide scare, they received four more charges; uttering threats to burn, destroy or damage Quebec schools, uttering threats to cause death or harm to Quebec students or employees, intent to injure or harm by means of telecommunication information known to be false, and conspiring to commit an indictable offence. There is a possibility that more charges will follow as the investigation continues. The three boys and the girl were released to the custody of their parents under strict conditions until the next court date, set for November 26th.
Written By: Katherine Willcocks
Originally Published: November 2015