In October 1970, events took place in Canada that would draw the attention of the entire world. For the first time in its history as a country, terrorism would be brought right to the doorstep of the Canadian government by a radical left-wing organization called the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ). In response to these events the government of Canada, under the leadership of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, invoked the War Measures Act for the first time ever during a period of peace. The debate rages about its effectiveness and whether or not the government was justified in putting it into action. Although the War Measures Act may not have been as effective in bringing a quick solution to the problem as it could have been, its enactment was justified because of the fact that this new violent revolutionary movement posed a direct and imminent threat to the state as well as its institutions. Increased terrorism in Quebec played a prominent role in the decision to use the War Measures Act.
[...] If Trudeau had not invoked the War Measures Act and had given in to the demands of the FLQ, not only would Canada's reputation be damaged but the government would be seen as weak and unwilling to stand up for the safety of its citizens. Although the government had enough justified reasoning to pronounce the War Measures Act, it turned out to be less efficient than planned. The hideout of the terrorists holding Pierre Laporte was found shortly after the proclamation of the War Measures Act, but it was too late because the terrorists had already decided to kill him shortly after they heard of the governments' decision. [...]
[...] Made up of R.C.M.P., Quebec Provincial Police and Montreal City Police officers, the largest manhunt in Canadian history was underway. Many Canadians opposed the War Measures Act, but the reality was that the government had no other choice. Trudeau justified his decision saying is more Important to maintain law and order than to worry about those whose weak knees tremble at the sight of the army.” This meant that even though the presence of the army in the streets of Ottawa and Montreal did evoke fear among many Canadians, it was a necessary step taken both to combat separatism and to take on the FLQ. [...]
[...] The idea of separatism was spreading throughout Quebec and by the end of the 1960s would become a significant issue for the Canadian government. The FLQ directly supported the Quebec sovereignty movement but chose to act through violent methods as opposed to the political ones adopted by the Parti Quebecois (Daniels, 1973). The FLQ had been terrorizing Quebec throughout the 1960's by exploding bombs whose targets included government and financial buildings as well as companies that represented the British monarchy. [...]
[...] In reality, the government could only consider two of the seven demands made by the FLQ (McRoberts & Postgate, 1976). These included encouraging the release of a few of the mentioned prisoners and the publishing of the FLQ manifesto, which the government decided to read publicly on national television on October 8th. One line contained in the manifesto threatened an armed and organized revolution of strong within the coming year; something that sent chills down the spine of the Canadian government. [...]
[...] The crisis was over by December 4th when the kidnappers of James Cross were flown by the Canadian government to Cuba, with the permission of Fidel Castro, in return for the release of Cross. The FLQ had failed to put into effect their demands but had succeeded in disrupting the status quo in Canada for a month or so as well as obtaining publicity around the world (CBC, 1990). This social and political crisis that brought Canada on the brink of revolt would leave a lasting mark on Canadians for years to come. [...]
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