Woman locked out of home dies of exposure


Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles DuceppeImage copyright
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The mother of former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe was found dead on Sunday

The mother of former Quebec politician Gilles Duceppe has died, probably of exposure after being accidentally locked out of her residence.

Police say the 93-year-old was found in the snow on Sunday outside her elderly people’s home in east-end Montreal.

Quebec’s coroner office has launched an investigation into the circumstances of Hélène Rowley Hotte’s death.

Eastern Canada has been in the grips of a cold snap with parts of the country under an extreme weather warning.

Condolences have poured in from across the political spectrum, including from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for Mr Duceppe, former leader of the Bloc Quebecois political party, in the wake of the tragic news.

Montreal police say they received an emergency services call at 11:45 am local time (16:45 GMT) on Sunday morning. Responders to the scene found Ms Rowley Hotte’s body.

Police say they believe she left the home at around 4:15 am when a fire alarm went off in the residence.

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But due to difficulties hearing, she did not hear the intercom message saying that her building, which was one of three that made up the complex, was not being evacuated, Montreal police spokeswoman Caroline Chevrefils told BBC News.

The elderly woman found herself alone outside at the back of the building with the door locked behind her, and was unable to get back inside.

It would have been well below freezing overnight in Montreal over the weekend.

Police say they are not pursuing a criminal investigation.

The coroner’s office said in a statement that the “ongoing investigation will shed light on the causes and the circumstances of this unfortunate death”.

Conclusions of that probe will be made public only at the end of the investigation.

Mr Duceppe had a long career as an advocate for the separation of French-speaking Quebec from the rest of Canada as leader of the Bloc.

The Quebec politician was a member of Parliament for over two decades and led the separatist Bloc Quebecois in a number of federal election campaigns.

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