Terrorism By Homebuilt?

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Canadian prosecutors want the book thrown at a Quebec pilot whose beef against a utility company turned into what some suggested was an act of domestic terrorism using an Aerocruiser homebuilt, a kit aircraft he designed. Government lawyers have asked for the full 10-year maximum sentence on “mischief” charges against Normand Dubé, who came close to shutting down Quebec’s entire power grid. He did succeed in cutting power to 180,000 Hydro Quebec customers, including a large Montreal hospital, but he could have potentially shut off the power for eight million customers. Federal officials were so spooked by Dubé’s plot they were granted a rare publication ban on the details over national security concerns. Most of Dubé’s trial was held in secret sessions and he was found guilty in September. Transcripts of the trial are heavily redacted. He will be sentenced Dec. 10.

Although the precise details have been kept confidential, it’s apparent Dubé dropped something on power lines from the aircraft that caused massive short circuits that rippled through the system. Hydro Quebec staff were able to isolate the problems and limit their effect but a system-wide failure was apparently narrowly averted. “The (power) lines that were designated in this attack were the jugular and the spinal column of Hydro-Québec’s network,” Crown Prosecutor Steve Baribeau told a court in St-Jerome. “What terrorist wouldn’t dream of doing what Mr. Dubé did?” Dubé’s lawyer argued that because he wasn’t ideologically motivated the sabotage couldn’t be considered terrorism. The court was told Dubé had a long-standing dispute with the utility and a track record for taking action on his complaints. He is currently facing criminal charges for allegedly burning down the house of a municipal official over a property valuation and using a Molotov cocktail against another civic employee.

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