Protester interrupts Harper speech

QUEBEC — A speech by Stephen Harper was briefly interrupted Monday when a shouting protester approached the stage at an international conference in Quebec City.

QUEBEC — A speech by Stephen Harper was briefly interrupted Monday when a shouting protester approached the stage at an international conference in Quebec City.

As the prime minister addressed a world forum on the French language, the man walked to the front of the large room and delivered a message of his own.

“Stop Harper, stop Jean Charest,” the protester yelled in his outburst.

“Citizens rise up. We need you, everybody.”

The interruption lasted only a few seconds before the man was grabbed by two security guards and hustled out of the room through a side door.

His rant earned him a muffled applause from some of the attendees inside the Quebec City conference centre.

Quebec provincial police later indicated that the man, in his 30s, was released and will not face charges.

The disruption happened just seconds after Harper uttered the only English words of his mostly French address during the conference’s opening ceremony.

“As Canadians, we are extremely proud of our two national languages and our heritage of diversity,” Harper said, a moment before the protester raised his voice.

The man’s shouts interrupted Harper’s next sentence, forcing the prime minister to pause and then repeat the line, which referred to the Olympic Games.

“Our two languages unite us, like they will unite all of humanity in a few a weeks in London, where La Francophonie will have as a great witness, a great Canadian, (former governor general) Michaelle Jean,” Harper said after the brief pause, during which the protester was removed from the room.

In his speech, Harper also noted the importance of French culture in Canada.

He told the room that French is the mother tongue of seven million Canadians.

Around 1,500 delegates, mostly youths, from 100 countries around the globe are taking part in the multi-day conference, which focuses on issues such as the future of the French language in the world. This is the inaugural edition of the forum.

A group of protesters that gathered outside the conference centre during the event criticized the federal and provincial governments for not doing enough to protect the French language.

An organization that promotes the preservation of the French language wrote a letter to La Francophonie secretary general Abdou Diouf, who also participated in Monday’s opening ceremony.

Mario Beaulieu, president of Mouvement Quebec francais, wrote in the letter that the French language is “stagnating” and “declining.” He added that the situation is far from what the federal and provincial governments lead people to believe.

Inside the building, Charest expressed his own concerns for the fate of the language, but cited international examples.

“At the United Nations, (French) influence is no longer the same,” said the Quebec premier, who took the podium after Harper.

“In Europe, the world of media and advertising has mostly made English its main language.”

By contrast, Charest described Quebec as a model of hope for the survival of French in the world.

“The history of Quebec provides a foundation for this belief,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Head coach Jason Chatwood, left, sports one of the Sylvan Lake Gulls’ first on-field hats next to Aqil Samuel, general manager and president of baseball operations, earlier this year.
Sylvan Lake Gulls ticket sales off to flying start

With the inaugural season quickly closing in, the Sylvan Lake Gulls hit… Continue reading

Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s chief medical health officer publicly criticizes staffer who leaked info

EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, dealing with rocketing COVID-19… Continue reading

The RCMP major crimes unit is investigating after a person was found dead at a residence on Stewart Street in Red Deer’s Sunnybrook neighbourhood Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer RCMP investigating suspicious death in Sunnybrook

A ‘deceased adult’ was found by officers

A detail from Canyon Light, an oil painting by Joan Clement, in the Scale exhibit by members of the Red Deer Art Club. It’s showing at the Viewpoint Gallery in the city’s Culture Services Centre. (Contributed image).
Outdoor art gallery and scavenger hunt is on in Red Deer next month

But First Friday receptions and patio concerts are postponed

Players at Canada’s World Junior selection camp in Red Deer last hit the ice Sunday in an intrasquad game. On Tuesday, it was announced that two players had tested positive for COVID-19 and the entire camp has since gone into isolation. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Hockey Canada Images)
Canada’s world junior camp to remain on pause for 14 days

Camp halted after two players contracted COVID-19

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw leaves after updating media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Legal experts say there's a fine line between a public health officer's duty to the people they serve and their duty to the politicians who appoint them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Public health officers walk fine line between public and politicians, scholars say

Public health officers walk fine line between public and politicians, scholars say

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

A man wearing a protective mask rides his bicycle past a masked mural during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. Canada's two biggest province have each reported more than 1,400 new COVID-19 infections as Ottawa pledged funds to help Nunavut deal with its soaring caseload. Ontario, which is expected to unveil new projections this afternoon, recorded 1,478 new cases today and 21 more deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccines to roll out for priority groups in early 2021; Atlantic bubble pops

COVID-19 vaccines to roll out for priority groups in early 2021; Atlantic bubble pops

Trump says he’ll leave if Electoral College seats Biden

Trump says he’ll leave if Electoral College seats Biden

This image released by ABC shows Ryan Phillippe in a scene from "Big Sky." premiering on Tuesday. Several Indigenous groups are lambasting ABC's "Big Sky" for a storyline about murdered women in Montana that fails to mention the crisis disproportionately involves Indigenous victims. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, ABC-Sergei Bachlakov, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Indigenous groups criticize ABC series ‘Big Sky’ for insensitivity to MMIWG

Indigenous groups criticize ABC series ‘Big Sky’ for insensitivity to MMIWG

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Kara McKlemurry poses for a photo while writing Thanksgiving notes to family and friends at her home Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Clearwater, Fla. On any normal Thanksgiving Day, McKlemurry and her husband would drive from their home to one of two places: his family's home in another part of Florida or her family's house in Alabama. This year, McKlemurry informed her family there would be no visits because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Empty seats, delivered feasts as virus changes Thanksgiving

Empty seats, delivered feasts as virus changes Thanksgiving

Most Read