Front de Libération du Québec

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Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) was a Canadian Marxist organization active from 1963 until 1971.Some of the members were organized and trained by Georges Schoeters, a Belgian revolutionary and alleged KGB agent whose hero was Che Guevara.From 1963 to 1970, the FLQ committed more than 200 violent actions, including bombings, bank hold-ups, kidnappings, at least three killings by FLQ bombs and two killings by gunfire. In 1966 Revolutionary Strategy and the Role of the Avant-Garde was prepared by the FLQ, outlining their long term strategy of successive waves of robberies, violence, bombings, and kidnappings, attempting to start revolution.

October Crisis

The October Crisis was a series of dramatic events triggered by two terrorist kidnappings of government officials by members of the Front de libération du Québec in the province of Quebec, Canada, in October 1970, which ultimately resulted in a brief invocation of the War Measures Act by Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau and the deployment of the national army in Quebec and in the national capital Ottawa.

The Premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa, and the Mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, requested that the Government of Canada invoke the War Measures Act. The act provided for far-reaching powers for police. Therefore, Prime Minister Trudeau invoked it in October of 1970 leading to arrests of any individuals the police thought to be separatists, and to their detentions without bail.

At that time, the federal government refused to differentiate the members of the FLQ, extremist separatists, and those of the PQ who advocated democratic ways of achieving independence. Following that crisis, under Prime Minister Trudeau's directions, this led to a series of scandals surrounding the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, particularly to the RCMP's illegal break-in to steal the Parti Québécois's member list in its offices in 1973.

Background

From 1963 to 1970 the Quebec nationalist group Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) had exploded over 95 bombs, which had killed seven people. While mailboxes, particularly in the affluent and predominantly Anglophone city of Westmount, were common targets, the largest single bombing was of the Montreal Stock Exchange on February 13, 1969, which caused extensive damage and injured 27 people. Other targets included Montreal City Hall, RCMP recruitment offices, railroad tracks, and army installations. FLQ members, in a strategic move, had stolen several tons of dynamite from military and industrial sites. Financed by bank robberies, they threatened the public through their official communication organ, known as La Cognée, that more attacks were to come.

By 1970, 23 members of the FLQ were in prison, including four members convicted of murder. On February 26, 1970, two men in a panel truck were arrested in Montreal when they were discovered with a sawed-off shotgun and a communique announcing the kidnapping of the Israeli consul. One of them was a man named Jacques Lanctôt. In June, police raided a home in the small community of Prévost, north of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains, and found firearms, ammunition, 300 pounds (140 kg) of dynamite, detonators, and the draft of a ransom note to be used in the kidnapping of the American consul.

October Crisis Timeline

  • October 5: Montreal, Quebec: Members of the "Liberation Cell" of the FLQ kidnap British Trade Commissioner James Cross. This was followed by a communique to the authorities that contained the kidnappers' demands, which included the release of a number of convicted or detained terrorists and the CBC broadcast of the FLQ Manifesto. The terms of the ransom note were the same as those found in June for the planned kidnapping of the U.S. consul. At the time, the police did not connect the two.
  • October 10: Montreal, Quebec: Members of the Chenier Cell approach the home of the Vice-Premier and Minister of Labour of the province of Quebec, Pierre Laporte, while he was playing football with his nephew. Members of the "Chenier cell" of the FLQ kidnap Laporte.
  • October 17: Montreal, Quebec: The Chenier cell of the FLQ announces that hostage Pierre Laporte has been executed. He is strangled to death, and his body is stuffed in the trunk of a car and abandoned in the bush near Saint-Hubert Airport, a few miles from Montreal. A communique to police advising that Pierre Laporte had been executed referred to him derisively as the "Minister of unemployment and assimilation". In another communique issued by the "Liberation cell" holding James Cross, his kidnappers declared that they were suspending indefinitely the death sentence against James Cross, that they would not release him until their demands were met, and that he would be executed if the "fascist police" discovered them and tried to intervene.
  • November 6: Police raid the hiding place of the FLQ's Chenier cell. Although three members escaped the raid, Bernard Lortie was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of Pierre Laporte.