On October 15 the Québec government requested the assistance of the Canadian Armed Forces to supplement the local police, and on October 16 the federal government proclaimed the existence of a state of "apprehended insurrection" under the WAR MEASURES ACT. Under the emergency regulations, the FLQ was banned, normal liberties were suspended, and arrests and detentions were authorized without charge. Over 450 persons were detained in Québec, most of whom were eventually released without the laying or hearing of charges.
On October 17 the body of Pierre Laporte was found in a car trunk near St Hubert airport. In early December 1970, the cell holding James Cross was discovered by police, and his release was negotiated in return for the provision of safe conduct to Cuba for the kidnappers and some family members. Four weeks later the second group was located and arrested, subsequently to be tried and convicted for kidnapping and murder. Emergency regulations under War Measures were replaced in December 1970 by similar regulations under the Public Order (Temporary Measures) Act which lapsed on 30 April 1971. The federal response to the kidnapping was intensely controversial. According to opinion polls, an overwhelming majority of Canadians supported the Cabinet's action, but it was criticized as excessive by Québec nationalists and by civil libertarians throughout the country. Supporters of the response claim that the disappearance of terrorism in Québec is evidence of its success, but this disappearance might equally be attributed to public distaste for political terror and to the steady growth of the democratic separatist movement in the 1970s, which led to the election of a PARTI QUÉBÉCOIS government (1976).
After the crisis the federal Cabinet gave ambiguous instructions to the RCMP Security Service, permitting dubious acts which were later condemned as illegal by the federal INQUIRY INTO CERTAIN ACTIVITIES OF THE RCMP and the Keable Commission (D'enquête sur des opérations policières en territoire Québecois) in Québec. The federal minister of justice in 1970, John TURNER, justified the use of War Measures as a means of reversing an "erosion of public will" in Québec, and Premier Robert BOURASSA similarly conceded that it was intended to rally popular support to the authorities rather than to confront an "apprehended insurrection."
Author DENIS SMITH
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
René Lévesque's Separatist Fight
An extensive multimedia CBC archive of news stories about politicial issues and events involving René Lévesque and the Parti québécois.
Last Lunch with Trudeau
Pierre Elliott Trudeau reflects on the October Crisis and related issues in this article by William Tetley, McGill law professor. Click on links on the left side of the page for additional articles about the October Crisis.
The October Crisis: Civil Liberties Suspended
CBC radio and television news stories chronicle the major events of the 1970 October Crisis.
The October Crisis
A concise overview of the 1970 October Crisis from Historica's "Peace and Conflict" website.
Review of the XXth century
Highlights of 20th century Québec history from the Government of Québec website.
October Crisis, 1970
Trudeau's notes for his nationally televised "War Measures Act" speech, October 16, 1970. From the Library and Archives Canada website "First Among Equals."
War Measures Act
A selection of newspaper clippings that vividly chronicle the imposition of the War Meaures Act in 1970. From the Winnipeg Tribune fonds, the University of Manitoba.
Just Watch Me
Watch a CBC News clip of the memorable interaction between reporters and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on the steps of Parliament during the October Crisis.