February 23, 2024

Brian Paré, 38, is a conspiracy theorist who posted claims that the government was deliberately setting wildfires to make people believe in climate change. But he was setting them himself, he ultimately admitted, forcing some 500 homes to be evacuated near Chapais, 265 miels northwest of Quebec City.

He pleaded guilty to 13 counts of arson, and one count of arson with disregard for human life, on Monday. Prosecutor Marie-Philippe Charron, recounting agreed-upon facts: “On May 31 at 8:30 p.m., the town of Chapais issued a mandatory evacuation order due to the raging fires, in particular the fire at Lake Cavan as well as the airport fire, two fires that are included in the charges and were cause by the accused.”

873 hectares of forest were burned by the Lake Cavan blaze; it was obviously arson, CBC News reports, because he five blazes, over the courts of a month, were statistically improbable and started three days after a law, citing climate change, banned open fires in the woods. Moreover, Paré was seen in the area, contacted as a potential witness, and “demonstrated a certain interest in fires” during the interview which led investigators to think they might have found their man.

In June, she said, police began watching Paré’s Facebook page, where he regularly posted about Quebec’s record-breaking forest fire season. Among those posts, which remain on his public Facebook page, were claims the fires had been deliberately set by the government to trick people into believing in climate change.

Paré’s ideology and behaviour — including those Facebook posts — matched a profile of the suspect developed by provincial police specialists, she said.

My “Not involved in setting these wildfires” T-shirt has people asking a lot of questions already answered by my shirt.

Is “Quebec man” a thing in Canada, like how the U.S. has “Florida Man?”