December 9, 1893: Anarchist bombing against French government

On December 9, 1893 the French anarchist Auguste Vaillant threw a homemade bomb from the gallery of the French Chamber of Deputies injuring 20

PARIS, FRANCE – We justifiably disagree with governments from time to time and proceed to vote them out of office. Does this mean we can choose to ‘bomb’ them out too?

We in Canada just had another federal election (last September). The Trudeau Liberal government was in a minority position in Parliament and was one non-confidence vote away from a mandatory election. I guess they thought that by calling an unnecessary vote – they did have until 2023 or even 2024 before having to go to the polls – they could perhaps gain enough seats to get a majority.

They did not. In fact, after all was said and done they ended up pretty much exactly where they were when the writ was dropped. This made a lot of Canadians wonder why we went through the whole thing in the first place (estimates on how much the election cost the taxpayer ranged as high as $610 million!) and the voter turnout actually dropped by almost 10%. In the end we got the status quo ante.

I worked both the advanced voting and election day as a returns officer and I cannot tell you how many of my fellow riding residents confided in me that they were not pleased at having to vote so soon after the previous poll. It was as if they were exercising their democratic duty/right/privilege but holding their noses while doing so.

Does the X mean I am voting for or against this person? (Photo: State Library of WA on flickr, CC BY 2.0)

At least the whole process unfolded peacefully. No one died and no one tried to use violence to prove a point.

Something very different transpired in France in the late 19th century.

On this day in 1893

The French anarchist Auguste Vaillant threw a homemade bomb from the gallery of the French Chamber of Deputies. As it was not a very good device, only 20 members of the body were lightly injured. For his crime Vaillant was immediately arrested, tried, convicted and guillotined on February 5, 1895.

Death to the Bourgeoisie! Long live Anarchy!

Vaillant’s last words

In the end this terrorist did not achieve much and the wave of anarchist bombings, stabbings and shootings that plagued the West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries petered out. I wonder if Vaillant ever thought of just spoiling his ballot to make his displeasure felt? I guess we’ll never know.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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