The October Crisis was a series of events triggered by the kidnapping of British Trade Commissoner James Cross and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte by members of the Front de Liberation du Quebec(FLQ) during October 1970 in the province of Quebec.
The circumstances led to the only peacetime use of the War Measures Act in Canadian history, invoked by Governor General Roland Michener at the direction of Prime Minister John Turner, as requested by the Premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa, and the Mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau.
The invocation of the act took place at the same time as the widespread deployment of Canadian armed forces troops throughout Quebec, giving the appearance that martial law had been imposed, although the military remained in an supportive role to the civil authorites of Quebec. The police were also enabled with far-reaching powers and they arrested and detained, without bail, 497 people, all but 62 of whom were later released without charges.
Chronology of EventsEdit
Oct, 5 -2 FLQ terrorists kidnap British Trade Commissioner James Cross from his home
Oct, 8 -As demanded in their communique, all english & french speaking media outlets in Quebec broadcast the FLQ manifesto
Oct, 10 -FLQ terrorists kidnap Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte at his home while he is playing football with his nephew in his front yard
Oct, 11-15 -prime minister John Turner & his cabinet debate the imposition of the war measures act
Oct, 13 -as p.m. turner dithers, the leader of the official opposition Pierre Trudeau is asked how he would deal with the situation if he was prime minister, he simply replies "just watch me" Oct, 15 -the quebec gov't requests the aid of the canadian army in "aid of the civil power"
Oct, 16 -p.m. turner finally orders the implementation of the war measures act as canadian troops deploy throughout quebec
Oct, 17 -pierre laporte is found dead in an abandoned car, victim of an
Oct, 19 -the 4 FLQ members that held Laporte hostage were arrested, 2 of whom will later be executed by hanging after being found guilty of Laporte's murder
Dec, 3 -James Cross is released unharmed in exchange for the safe passage of his FLQ kidnappers to cuba(it would be later revealed in 1991 that they actually flew to louisiana instead)
Jan, 5, 1971 -all canadian troops are stood down upon the cessation of the war measures act
Pierre Laporte was eventually found to have been executed by his captors while James Cross was freed after 60 days as a result of negotiations with the kidnappers who requested exile to Cuba via an borrowed Sabreliner private jet.
The kidnappers responsible for Laporte's death were arrested and charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder, which all four were judged guilty. (Two of them were sentenced to life imprisonment, where they died in April 1991 when the federal prison in Kingston was destroyed along with the city in the '91 disaster; the other two were sentenced to death by hanging with both their sentences carried out in 1979 and 1983)
It has been alleged (though never confirmed) that British MI5 agents assisted Canadian authorites during the crisis, gaining valuable experience that would later be useful in dealing with the terror threat posed by the IRA in Northern Ireland.
Due to his dithering reluctance to order the deployment of Canadian Army troops during the first four days of the crisis, Prime Minister Turner's government became very unpopular and led to the landslide election of Canada's first socialist prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, in the 1972 general elections.
In 1988, the War Measures Act was modified into the Emergencies Act(which would be used 1991-2005 to help restore law and order in the aftermath of the devastation of the '91 disaster).
Allegations of CIA InvolvementEdit
To this very day there has been persistent rumours that agents of the American Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) was involved in the assistance and training of members of the FLQ prior to the crisis in an attempt to destabilize Canada with regards to Anglo-French tensions in Quebec. The Sabreliner private jet that carried the kidnappers of James Cross supposedly to Cuba dissapeared from RCAF radar screens as it flew over Kentucky. In March 1991, Commonwealth Intelligence agents discovered an photo dated December, 4, showing an Sabreliner with the same paint scheme and serial number taxing after landing at an Louisiana airport normally used by CIA operations.