Pie hurler pleads not guilty

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Thu, 20 May 1999 05:41:04 -0400


May 20, 1999  The Toronto Star

Pie hurler pleads not guilty

By Chantal Hébert
Toronto Star Montreal Bureau

MONTREAL - In what they describe as a case of ``cream and punishment,''
Quebec's cream-pie-throwing brigade, the ``entartistes,'' will get their day
in court in the fall courtesy of one of their most prominent victims, former
premier Jacques Parizeau.

Bruno Caron, the man who threw a pie at Parizeau during an election meeting
last fall, pleaded not guilty yesterday to assault. The case will be heard
in September.

But the issue will be hotly debated between now and then. On May 30, the
entartistes are staging a rally in Montreal and many Quebec artists and
left-wing activists have agreed to participate.

To the entartistes and their supporters, the issue is freedom of expression.
``By what rules is throwing a cream pie called an assault and bombing
Yugoslavia a peace mission?'' asked entartiste spokesperson François Yo
Gourd yesterday. He is a former leader of the now-defunct Rhinoceros party.

Ironically, the entartistes have managed to bring together some longtime
adversaries. Parizeau is backed in his legal action by arch-nemesis Stéphane
Dion, the federal unity minister who was the most recent entartiste victim
and who plans to press charges against his own attackers if they are
arrested.

The cream-pie issue has split Quebec's political classes.

Those on the throwing-end of the cream pie wars argue it comes with the
territory for those in positions of power.

They say pie-throwing is a legitimate means of expressing dissent,
especially since election laws now make it virtually impossible for marginal
groups to enter the political arena. And they point to the 1997
pepper-spraying of APEC demonstrators as a sample of what happens to those
who stick to more traditional means of protest.

In a column last Saturday, La Presse's most widely read columnist Pierre
Foglia argued that throwing a pie in someone's face was never meant to be
funny but that the real point was to get a message across.

Those on the receiving end of the pies don't agree.

Dion compared his encounter with a cream pie to getting punched in the face.
He was widely supported in his assessment by other politicians. But not
everyone is convinced the issue belongs in court.

Over the past year, a dozen Quebec personalities, including politicians and
business leaders, have been targets of the cream-pie brigade. Yet only
Parizeau and Dion are opting to go to press charges.

Last week, Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard called the incident involving Dion
``a disgrace'' and federal Tory leader Joe Clark agreed it was unpleasant,
but neither would say if they would pursue such a matter in court.

Meanwhile, Quebec politicians are being more careful.

Recently, a federal cabinet minister is said to have chosen to head back to
Ottawa rather than visit a Montreal fair once he was advised that some
entartistes might be roaming around in search of a target. And security
around Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest - who has been voted the
entartistes' number one potential target on their Web site - has been
tightened.