Alexandre Bissonnette’s parents, Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette, in June 2018. In an open letter, Raymond Bissonnette notes his son was not charged with terrorism under the Criminal Code.
Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The father of the man who murdered six people as they prayed at a mosque in Quebec City two years ago has written an open letter to prime minister Justin Trudeau asking him to stop describing his son’s actions as a “terrorist attack”.The letter, written in English and French and signed by Raymond Bissonnette, says Trudeau placed the safety of his family at risk by referring to Alexandre Bissonnette’s actions as “terrorist attack” the day after he shot six people to death and seriously wounded six others.“I am not an expert,” wrote Bissonnette. “But it is clear to me that qualifying a person or a crime as ‘terrorist’ adds a social and political dimension that can have serious consequences. It is understandable why heads of state are very cautious and await the results of investigations before qualifying such an act.”Raymond Bissonnette illustrates the threat to his family by noting that two years ago, an individual took a plane from London to Quebec with that stated intention of avenging the terrorist attack on the Quebec City mosque and had been seeking to find out where the Bissonnette family lived. The individual was located, charged with uttering threats and deported.However Bissonnette contends that the potential for danger faced by his family has not diminished.“The danger to my family is real. Is it unrealistic to think that this danger is also real for every Canadian, here and abroad, who could become the target of extremists wanting to avenge a so-called ‘terrorist attack’ in a Canadian mosque? The appalling terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019 to ‘avenge’ the Christchurch attack is a frightening example that, I hope, will make you aware of the dangers of labeling a crime a ‘terrorist attack’.”Bissonnette notes that — after an exhaustive police investigation — his son was not charged with terrorism under the Criminal Code, had no terrorist links or terrorist ideology and should be considered instead a mass murderer.The letter acknowledges the gravity of Bissonnette’s crimes, which it describes as terrible.On Jan. 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette entered the Centre culturel islamique de Québec and started shooting worshippers, killing six and wounding six others.He later pleaded guilty to six counts of first degree murder and six of attempted murder. Last February he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole before 40 years of his term had been served.The Crown and defence have launched separate appeals of the sentence.Related