Quebec 70: A Documentary Narrative

By John T. Saywell | Go to book overview

Preface

"If, once again, one can go by the climate of terror, the climate of violence, which has been the real outcome of separatism in the last ten years, one can think that the city in which we would live in an independent Quebec would certainly not be a very pleasant one," observed Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau before the Liberal Federation of Quebec on October 19, 1969. Looking back over the year about to end, it had been one of violence and terror, bombs and murder. All evidence pointed to the escalation of radicalism and nationalism, whether distinct or joined, in the province of Quebec. Only a few Canadians, however, took seriously the evidence that radical nationalists had adopted a strategy for revolution initially designed for banana republics and the Third World. Even those -- in the press and public -- who could read the signs seemed to dismiss them as idle rhetoric rather than impending reality. The fall of 1970 was to shatter all illusions as, in the language of the word merchants, the country "came of age" or "lost its innocence." It was unlikely that in his looking-glass even the Prime Minister foresaw the horror of October 1970.

The two kidnappings and the murder of Pierre Laporte were the biggest domestic news stories in Canada's history. For three months the media relentlessly pursued its story, doing little to enlighten Canadians on the tragic events but serving as the desired publicist for the Front de libération du Québec. For three months -- and undoubtedly for years after 1970- every journalist, every politician, every armchair strategist and instant historian, had his own interpretation and his own solution, both of which were commonly in line with his politics and ideology. Meanwhile, the country lived through a chapter of its history that was at once bizarre and tragic, unbelievable and terrifying. For three months Canadians knew literally only what the FLQ told them. Their communiqués were about the only hard news the public had, and it is their communiqués and official government statements that form much of the documentary narrative that follows. No useful purpose would seem to be served here by another account of the October crisis where fact and rumour, interpreta

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Quebec 70: A Documentary Narrative
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents 1
  • Preface 3
  • Separatism or Federalism 5
  • The Cross Abduction 28
  • A Second Hostage -- Pierre Laporte 55
  • It's War-Total War 76
  • This Cruel and Senseless Act 100
  • The Montreal Election 111
  • The Last Act 121
  • Questions and Consequences 136
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