Quebec Nationalism Revisited FLQ and the October Crisis The Great Darkness 1944 - 1959 The leader of Quebec during the period called The Great Darkness was Maurice Duplessis. While he was a very strong supporter of provincial rights, Duplessis did not support individual civil rights. He was also adamantly anti-Communist. He limited education to the general population and gave control of teaching to the Catholic Church. He was anti-union, and he used the provincial police to violently stop labour strikes at coal and asbestos mines. (NOTE: Pierre Elliot Trudeau was a young lawyer representing the workers and the unions. During this time, Trudeau began to formulate ideas about a Just Society). The Quiet Revolution After Duplessis’ death, Quebec awoke. In Quebec history, the 1960s is called The Quiet Revolution (Révolution tranquille). It was a time of rapid change and the modernization in Quebec. People began looking away from the church for advice and direction. Social service such as welfare were established Francophone-Quebecers became Québécois with a pursuit of political independence A Ministry of Education was formed to manage education Worker rights were legalized Hydro-Quebec was formed to manage electrical production Quebec took more control of its economy and established its own pension fund (Nationalization) Many Québécois believe English-Canada do not listen to Quebec’s concerns. The separatist party Parti-Québécois was formed in 1968, and separation from Canada became the focus of political life in Quebec. Canada...with its British model...was seen as a foreign, imperialistic power In 1968, French nationalist Pierre Vallières writes White Niggers of America. The non-fictional story compares the forcible exploitation of the Québécoisto black slaves in southern USA. The Less-than-Quiet Revolution The Quiet Revolution was not always quiet...especially for the hard line nationalist and separatist. In 1963, Molotov cocktails and dynamite time bombs exploded in the English areas of Montreal. Wilfred O'Neil, a 65-year-old war veteran one month away from his pension, was killed and explosives expert Walter Leja was maimed for life. While visiting Montreal and Expo 67 during Canada’s 100 birthday celebration, France’s President Charles de Gaulle proclaimed Vive le Québec libre. On 13 February 1969, bombs exploded in the Montreal Stock Exchange injuring 27. A new separatist group formed called the Front de libération du Québec(FLQ). The 1970 October Crisis In 1970, Canada and Quebec were rocked by an increased number of acts of domestic terrorism. By this point, the FLQ had carried out over 200 violent crimes including several bombings that resulted in the deaths of six people. In addition, 23 members of the FLQ were in jail including four members convicted of murder. On 5 October 1970, the terrorist cell of the FLQ kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross. On 8 October 1970, the FLQ Manifesto was broadcast on CBC Radio. The FLQ demands included: • releasing 23 "political prisoners" • providing $500,000 in gold • broadcasting and publishing the FLQ manifesto • publishing the names of police informants in Quebec • providing an aircraft to take the kidnappers to Cuba or Algeria • rehiring of the Lapalme postal truck drivers • stopping all police search activities On 10 October 1970, another FLQ cell kidnapped Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. Canada looks more like a police state than a democracy eight days after the kidnapping of British Trade Commissioner James Cross. On Parliament Hill a reporter confronts Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau: "What is it with all these men and guns around here?" By calling in army tanks and men in full gear, Trudeau boosted national security. But the military's presence makes some Canadians feel a whole lot less secure. When asked “How far would he go to extend law and order to uphold Canadian society,” Trudeau responded in a now famous 13 October 1970 retort, “Just watch me.” On 16 October 1970, the Premier of Quebec Robert Bourassa and the Mayor of Montreal Jean Drapeau formally requested the Government of Canada invoke the War Measures Act. The act provided for far-reaching powers for police. Because of the parallel requisitioning of the military during the crisis "in aid of the civil power" by the Premier of Quebec, the event has been mistakenly thought of as invoking martial law. Under the Act, the Government of Quebec can...and does...invoke emergency powers to apprehend and jail anyone. The War Measures Act had never been used in Canada during peace time. The same day, about 3,000 students gather in a Montreal arena to show support for the FLQ. On 17 October 1970, the FLQ announces that hostage Pierre Laporte has been executed. Laporte's body is discovered strangled in the trunk of a car in a parking lot. A communiqué refers to Laporte as the "Minister of unemployment and assimilation". On the same day and in response to the killing, James Cross’ kidnappers declare they were suspending indefinitely the death sentence against him, Cross would not released until FLQ demands were met and he would be executed if the "fascist police" discovered them and tried to intervene. Over the next month, between 450 and 500 people were detained without warrant as sympathizers to the FLQ. The majority of the people were artists, unionists, intellectuals and individuals who supported Quebec nationalism. Most were subsequently released without charge. On 6 November 1970, police raid the hiding place of the FLQ cell responsible for killing Laporte. One FLQ member is arrested. On 3 December 1970...after eight weeks of confinement...British diplomat James Cross is set free by his FLQ abductors. Simultaneously, the five FLQ members holding Cross are granted safe passage to Cuba by the Government of Canada. They are flown to Cuba by a Canadian Forces aircraft. On 27 December 1970, the three remaining killers of Laporte are captured and charged. Two kidnappers receive a life imprisonment sentence. At the time, opinion polls in Quebec and the rest of Canada showed overwhelming support for the War Measures Act (i.e., 87% of Canadians supported the Prime Minister). Politician and future Parti Québécois Leader René Levesque wrote that he agreed it was necessary under the circumstances. Since then, however, the government's use of the War Measures Act in peacetime has been a subject of debate in Canada as it gave police sweeping powers of arrest and detention. Some supporters of the government's strong measures maintain that there have been no equivalent terrorist incidents since 1970 because of the vigorous response by all levels of government. On the other hand, the more general consensus is that terrorism was found by Quebecers to be both repugnant and unnecessary. Those who desire independence became fully conscious that it can and should be achieved through the democratic process.