WMA in the rest of Canada

While in Quebec the War Measures Act was widely implemented, English Canada was not left unscathed by the hysteria and fear provoked by the events in Quebec. Seven members of the Vancouver Liberation Front, name similar to FLQ (Quebec Liberation Front, in English), a student-based small radical group, were arrested and held without charge over a weekend.

At the same time the mayor of Vancouver threatened to use WMA powers to clean his city of hippies and transients. The Regina police chief expressed a desire to use his powers to clean out “undesirable elements”. The man had a notorious antipathy for hippies, young activists and so on, indeed, all young men with long hair. Former brigadier and Regina Chamber of Commerce President Keehr advocated strengthening the militia by giving employees time off with pay for training so that Canada could better defend itself against a “bunch of kooks who think they can actually take over this country”.

The British Colombia cabinet passed an order-in council requiring the dismissal of teachers and professors who, in the opinion of the police, advocated the policies of the FLQ. A student at Ottawa University was arrested and held for four days because he happened to be called Bernard Lortie! This curious coincidence with the name of a known member of the FLQ was enough for the arrest under the WMA. A student at Carleton University had his home searched by the police in the first hour.

Nothing was found, but he was taken to jail and held incommunicado for six days. In Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, a man was arrested for failing to produce a registration form and for having an unpaid 1967 parking ticket. He was held in jail for three days.

Even worse, editors of several university newspapers across Canada were visited by police and threatened because of the intention no print the FLQ Manifesto. Besides, there was the extensive self-censorship by the media, often more vigorous than any government-appointed censor would have dared.

Toronto’s CHAN Television abruptly stopped a 60 minute taped interview show as soon as the channel realized that the invited guest was a prominent Quebec labour leader who had been arrested in the first hours of the WMA. National CBC radio cancelled the broadcast of a Max Fergusson skit satirizing the WMA with a routine where Elliott Trudeau has been mistakenly arrested and held incommunicado. I

n Alberta, censors banned the film Red, which featured a Metis who was going to Montreal. The airing of a TV documentary on Lenin, the Russian bolchevique leader, was cancelled. All this was one of the most grotesque events in Canadian history.

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