October Crisis

General revue

Revolutionary or terrorist activity (definition depends on political views…) in Quebec through the 1960ies culminated in the October Crises of 1970.

On 5 October 1970 the Quiet Revolution ended and the apparently unstoppable democratic march toward some form of sovereignty was derailed by political violence. Well, the violence came from both, the FLQ illegal activities and the state violence of the federal government. Early the morning of 5 October, the FLQ escalated its activities by kidnapping the British trade commissioner in Montreal, James Cross.

The choice of the first target was clear – representative of the “British colonialism” was the first victim of what the FLQ wanted to transform into a real civil war. Threatening to kill Cross, the FLQ gave authorities 48 hors to meet its demands, some of them were implemented. The kidnapping of British consular official was followed by that of Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s government reacted strongly. It quickly subordinated the Quebec government and suspended civil liberties according to the War Measures Act (WMA). In order to crush the independence movement, the federal government sent in the army. Hundreds of Quebec intellectuals, political activists, and labour leader were imprisoned.

At first, the population was divided, with many attracted by the FLQ manifesto, because its powerful attacks on the church, corporate colonialism and Anglophone racism. However, the murder of Pierre Laporte discredited the movement. However, the situation was too complex and important for Quebec and for Canada, thus we speak at length about it in a number of other notes.

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