The real story of the War Mea­sures Act

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Justin’s dad tram­pled my free­dom (July 15)

It is ob­vi­ous that the let­ter writer is un­fa­mil­iar with the FLQ cri­sis. The ad­her­ents of right wing ide­ol­ogy sel­dom check facts, in­stead choos­ing to re­gur­gi­tate cherry picked pro­pa­ganda. Here is a short syn­op­sis:

Oct. 5, 1970: four men pos­ing as de­liv­ery­men kid­napped Bri­tish trade com­mis­sioner James Richard Cross. Cross was in the hands of Que­bec’s most rad­i­cal sep­a­ratist group, the Front de Libéra­tion du Québec (FLQ). Since 1963, the FLQ had been in­volved in over 200 bomb­ings in Que­bec. The kid­nap­pers threat­ened to kill Cross un­less the gov­ern­ment re­leased 23 in­mates charged with crimes com­mit­ted in the name of the Front.

Five days af­ter the Cross kid­nap­ping, the FLQ kid­napped Pierre La­porte, the Que­bec min­is­ter of labour and the gov­ern­ment’s se­nior Cabi­net min­is­ter. This pan­icked the pop­u­la­tion and the premier called Ot­tawa for help. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment sent in the army. For Pierre Trudeau, a life­long cham­pion of in­di­vid­ual rights, it was a defin­ing mo­ment.

Premier Robert Bourassa and Mon­treal Mayor Jean Dra­peau urged Ot­tawa to in­voke the War Mea­sures Act. On Oct. 16, Trudeau did so. That morn­ing, the po­lice ar­rested 405 peo­ple. The day af­ter the ar­rests, the body of Pierre La­porte was found in the trunk of a car. He had been stran­gled.

Af­ter two months of cap­tiv­ity, James Cross was re­leased as part of a deal which al­lowed five kid­nap­pers to leave Canada.

Dur­ing this time, the peo­ple of Que­bec were be­ing ter­ror­ized by armed men, bomb­ings, kid­nap­pings and threats of fur­ther vi­o­lence. So, Mr. Lisowski, I would urge you to do re­search be­fore you put your lack of knowl­edge in print. The gov­ern­ment def­i­nitely does not owe you $10 mil­lion. Nada Arse­nault, Hamilton

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