A Quebec man has pleaded guilty to starting 14 fires during Canada’s wildfire season this past summer.  

38-year-old Brian Paré has pleaded guilty to 13 counts of arson and one count of arson with disregard for human life.

The fires took place between May 29 and September 5, 2023. 

Prosecutor Marie-Philippe Charron informed the court that out of the 14 fires ignited by Paré, two led to the evacuation of approximately 500 homes in Chapais, Quebec, a small community situated about 425 kilometres northwest of Quebec City, according to the Canadian Press.

Chibougamau is a small town that was also affected by last summer’s fires.

The fires caused all 7,500 residents to be displaced from their homes, according to the Counter Signal. 

Paré posted videos of fires on his Facebook page, which still remain up. The Quebec man claimed that the fires were intentionally started by the Canadian government and other “elites” to progress their 2030 agenda.

“This is happening in Canada, so when I say climate change doesn’t exist but is invented and fabricated by our governments and their United Nations Elite from the World Economic Forum and the WHO [World Health Organization] for their 2030 new world order,”  said Paré in a caption of a video showcasing one of the fires.

According to CBC, 700 forest fires burned over 4.5 million hectares of Quebec forest over the summer, 99.9% of which were sparked by lightning. However, recent data from the National Forestry Database shows that in 2020, roughly 10% of fires were sparked by lightning. Further, more recent data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre shows that in 2022, among Quebec’s 449 fires, 39 were natural (8.7%), while 410 were human-caused. 

According to a spokesperson for the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu, responsible for forest fires in the province, human activity was to blame for roughly 80% of fires in Quebec

According to the National Forestry Database, the number of fires and total area (in millions of hectares) burned in Canada are lower than in 1980 – the furthest the data goes back.

During the wildfire season, politicians and the media blamed the fires on climate change, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Energy Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment Steven Guilbeault, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, and Senator Chuck Schumer, each blaming Canadian fires on climate change. 

CTV and the Washington Post both published articles attributing fires to climate change despite their cause not being known at the time.