Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Pop History Moment: The October Crisis Begins

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOn this day in 1970 terrorists with the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross from his diplomatic home on Redpath Crescent in the Mount Royal neighbourhood of Montreal (shown at left). Their demands included the release of several of their fellow terrorists from jail and the reading of the FLQ Manifesto on television.

Although the FLQ had been founded in the early 1960s along Marxist lines their attacks, principally in the form of bombings, culminated in a February 1969 attack on the Montreal Stock Exchange which injured 27. Between 1963 and 1970 the FLQ were responsible for 200 violent actions including bombings, bank robberies, and kidnappings, resulting in 5 deaths, including a Quebec cabinet minister. They are also thought to be behind a series of riots at McGill University later that summer.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhat followed the kidnapping of James Cross (shown, at right, in a photo staged by the FLQ; Cross actually spent most of his captivity wearing a hood) is known in Canadian history as the October Crisis, at the height of which Mayor Jean Drapeau of Montreal and Premier Robert Bourassa of Quebec asked Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to invoke the War Measures Act. This act gave the military extraordinary powers of arrest.

The name 'October Crisis' is something of a misnomer, as the situation wasn't entirely cleared up for years, although the last significant members of the FLQ were taken into custody at the end of December 1970, 24 days after James Cross was released unharmed.
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3 comments:

TankMontreal said...

What??? No mention Quebec's Minister of Labour, Pierre Laporte, kidnapped that October from his home in suburban St.Lambert (a few blocks from where I lived at the time, btw) and executed at the hands of the FLQ?
It's also interesting you should state the situation was "entirely cleared up" after several years. Many on either side of the story would argue it's never been "cleared up" and won't be until independence is won (and we're confronted with a whole new set of problems).

michael sean morris said...

No fair peeking! There's more to come about Laporte in the next couple of weeks... If you still want to read ahead, hit the tag that says "October Crisis"

As for the situation being entirely cleared up, the FLQ was pretty much a spent force after these events, and even Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois has said - in conversation with Segolene Royal - that there are no more plans for a new referendum.

TankMontreal said...

MSM - no need for me to "read ahead"; I lived through it as it happened.
How much publicity do you think Marois' remark to Royal got in the Separatist community? Little to none. They're still squawking.
Check out "AngryFrenchGuy" on my blogroll. He's a real piece of work, that one.