Brian B.

Malagash, Nova Scotia

Chignecto-Central Regional Heritage Fair

The October Crisis

The October Crisis was a series of events that occurred in Quebec during the year of 1970. The crisis was sparked by the kidnapping of James Cross, a British Trade Commissioner, and Pierre Laporte, a prominent politician. The group responsible for the kidnappings was the Front de Liberation de Quebec (FLQ), a revolutionary separatist group. The War Measures Act was invoked by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau during the crisis, which essentially suspended Canadian’s rights.

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What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

I find it very interesting how relevant the October Crisis is at this time because of current events, such as the Arab Spring. Granted, Pierre Trudeau was not a totalitarian dictator, but his response to the crisis was not something you would expect from a Liberal who was a strong supporter of individual rights. Also, the recent emergency law put in place to control student protests in Quebec has been compared to the War Measures Act, which was invoked during the crisis.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

Before doing this project, I thought that Canada had an interesting, but relatively peaceful history: No civil wars, no coups, and no revolutions. However, this is not necessarily true. During and leading up to the October Crisis, the possibility of a revolution in Quebec was ever present. A diplomat and a powerful politician were kidnapped, and bombings were a regular occurrence. Following the War Measures Act being invoked by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, thousands of Canadian soldiers were deployed to Quebec, turning it into a police state. Canada is a safe, peaceful country, but the October Crisis was very un-Canadian.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

Compared to citizens living in Montreal during and leading up to the crisis, my life is much safer. I do not have to worry about bombings, or my family and friends being kidnapped. There are no soldiers guarding my street, and if I am arrested, I will have a court appearance before being put in jail for up to 90 days. Compared to French Canadians living in Quebec in the 40’s and 50’s, when resentment against Ottawa began to grow, I am not discriminated against. I have a right to strike, and I would receive the same wages in Quebec that I would in Ontario.