Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Villeneuve Gets Threats Following His Blast against Quebec Protesters: Villeneuve Gets Threats after Student Tirade

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Villeneuve Gets Threats Following His Blast against Quebec Protesters: Villeneuve Gets Threats after Student Tirade

Article excerpt

MONTREAL - Race-car champion Jacques Villeneuve has apparently received threats since he took the rare step, for a Quebec celebrity, of blasting the province's student movement.

Villeneuve would not provide details but said Friday he had received some "dangerous" emails since the previous evening. People were reacting to his lengthy criticism of the student protests which he characterized as, among other things, an international embarrassment.

The comments caused quite a stir.

Villeneuve was instantly catapulted into a starring role in a four-month dispute that has made international news. With Quebec celebrities mainly remaining silent or lining up behind the protesters, the race-car driver was suddenly the movement's most famous, most virulent critic.

Thousands have since been weighing in on social-media sites -- with many regular people supporting Villeneuve and many more, including some prominent Quebecers, castigating him and almost nobody expressing indifference.

The race-car driver is refusing to back down. That's despite having received a torrent of emails that he says haven't always been flattering.

"We received a pack of injurious and insulting emails, even some that were dangerous," Villeneuve said.

"For people who say they stand for freedom of expression, I find it a bit ridiculous that we're not allowed to say what we're thinking."

He also said that if protesters make good on a plan to jam the Montreal subway system on Sunday -- the day of the Formula One Grand Prix race -- their act will amount to domestic terrorism.

Quebec's student protesters have cast their movement as a defence of democratic principles, given that the ongoing strikes have been ratified after votes at student assemblies.

They say it's the elected provincial government that is undemocratic -- because it's ignored the votes and passed a special law setting limits on street protests. About one-third of students are on strike.

The protesters are now using Montreal's four-day Formula One Grand Prix festivities to raise awareness for their fight against tuition hikes. …

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