Revolutionary elements in Quebec rejected the democratic process as a means to obtain independence. Embittered by unemployment, foreign control of the Quebec economy, conflicts over the language and education, many intellectuals turned to Marxism and Third World national liberation and guerrilla warfare models.
One of the leading Marxist figures of the 1960s was Pierre Vallieres, born in a working-class family. He sought to politicize Quebec in his influential White Niggers of America book by comparing the Quebecers to other colonized peoples. The « new-old » ideology took practical form with the formation in 1963 of the so called Front de Libération du Québec – FLQ (Quebec Liberation Front).
Committed to overthrowing “medieval Catholicism and capitalist oppression”, the FLQ began its attacks, taking particular aim at the federal structures and Anglophone bourgeoisie. The FLQ promised to destroy “all colonial symbols and institutions, in particular the RCMP – Royal Canadian Mounted Police – and the armed forces”.
They threatened as well all the information media in the “colonial language which holds us in contempt”, all “colonial commercial establishments and enterprises which practise discrimination against Quebecois and which do not use French”, all plants and factories which discriminate against francophone workers.
Bombs explodes, banks and institutions attacked, people were killed… Revolutionary activity through the 1960ies culminated in the October Crisis of 1970, when Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s federal government reacted strongly to the kidnapping of two high-ranking men and murder of Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. The state of war was declared in Quebec (War Measures Act was instituted).
Hundreds of intellectuals, political activists and trade-union leaders were imprisoned. No doubt, the October Crisis was the most important political event in the province of Quebec since 1838, when the last armed rebellion was launched against the English rule.