Quebec 70: A Documentary Narrative

By John T. Saywell | Go to book overview

"It's war-total war"

OCTOBER 14-16

TROOPS continued to move to Camp Bouchard, twenty-five miles from Montreal, on October 14. In Toronto Prime Minister John Robarts rejected any deal with the FLQ -- "It's war -- total war." In Paris a group calling itself the European contingent of the FLQ boldly threatened to destroy Canadian air and rail communications outside of Quebec. In Quebec the press continued its speculations. Claude Ryan and some others believed that the Quebec cabinet, although badly divided, was anxious to go to almost any length to secure the release of Cross and Laporte but were held in check by an inflexible Canadian government. Claude Henault wrote in the Toronto Telegram (October 15):

A source close to Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa said in an interview yesterday that Mr. Bourassa, who was elected on a pro-Federal ticket, is "dead tired from lack of sleep in the past few days and getting a little fed up with Ottawa's refusal to be flexible."

Ottawa, the source said, seems unable to see the problem from Quebec's point of view. Mr. Bourassa is under considerable pressure, partly from within the easily-split Quebec Liberal Federation, to obtain the freedom of the kidnapped Labor Minister Pierre Laporte.

Prime Minister Bourassa repeatedly denied that there was any basic split in the cabinet, and both he and Mr Trudeau denied that Quebec was being driven by a hard line from Ottawa. (Indeed, the evidence suggests that Trudeau. was restraining Quebec and Montreal authorities from precipitately demanding the use of the army or the War Measures Act.) Nevertheless, the view that Ottawa was determining policy and that outside pressure would stiffen the supposedly floundering Bourassa cabinet lay behind the meeting of sixteen prominent Québécois at the Holiday Inn on October 14. Claude Ryan ( Le Devoir, October 30) provided the background to the meeting:

... On Wednesday October 14 Mr Bourassa phoned and told me there might be "a small step" in the direction of taking a firm stand. His remarks caused me some concern. On the same day at about 5 Pm I received a telephone call from Mr René Lévesque. The latter, who had been following the line adopted by the Devoir during this crisis with some interest, told me that he feared a shift

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