“True awareness that Quebec was passionate about becoming separate

“True Patriot love” is a proclamation made in the Canadian national anthem. This statement suggests that all Canadians are loyal to the entire country not just one province or territory. This however, was not always true. From 1960 to 1970 many francophones in Quebec were more loyal towards their own province and heritage, than the entire Canadian anglo population. This group of francophones was known as the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ). The FLQ was founded in 1963 by three main leaders: Paul Rose, Jacques Rose, and Frank Sinard. Their goal was to ‘achieve Quebec independence from the anglophone provinces and territories by any means necessary, including terrorism.'(5) The FLQ is significant in Canadian history because they lead Canada through a decade of terrorist acts that developed into the FLQ Crisis. In addition, it also raised awareness that Quebec was passionate about becoming separate from Canada. This decade included events leading up to the FLQ crisis, key events of the FLQ crisis, immediate and long term results of the FLQ crisis, the creation of the FLQ manifesto and the Quiet revolution. The Front de Liberation du Quebec was an organization devoted to their French heritage and were willing to go to great lengths to ensure independence from Canadian anglophones. Not only did the FLQ create havoc during the fall of 1970, but through the 1960s as well. They carried out over 200 violent acts in the lead up to the FLQ crisis. ‘These acts were made by two distinct cells within the organization: the Chenier cell lead by Paul Rose and the Liberation cell lead by Jacques Lanctot.'(6) Together the cells were responsible for a large number of armed robberies and over 200 bombings. Although Quebec was “slowly becoming less anglophone, it was not fast enough for the FLQ, which caused them to resort to violence.”(7) The bombings occurred between 1963 and 1970 and over the years they grew in size and power. Bombs were placed in the mailboxes of anglophones, in three federal armories, and in Westmount – a wealthy upper middle class anglophone area of Montreal.  The goal of these bombs was to “destroy the influence and symbols of English colonialism.”(6) In addition to the bombings, the FLQ used armed robbery to supply their organization with money and military equipment. In 1964, the FLQ stole $50,000 in cash and murdered someone in the process. “All FLQ members involved with the robbery were arrested and convicted.”(6) The organization did not respond well to these arrests and this fuelled their terrorist actions during the FLQ crisis.’In 1970, the FLQ group raised the idea of separatism during one of the worst Canadian crisis’ since the Second World War.'(2) The FLQ crisis began on October 5th 1970 when James Cross (a trade commissioner) was kidnapped by a cell within the FLQ. “The FLQ believed if they resorted to terrorist acts such as kidnapping, others would join their organization and help them achieve their goal”(7) ;to overthrow the Quebec government and to obtain Quebec independence. After the first kidnapping, the FLQ threatened to kill Cross unless the Quebec government followed through with a list of demands. The group stated they wanted “23 prisoners charged with crimes committed under the name of the front to be released and given safe passage to either Cuba or Algeria. As well as $500,000 and for their manifesto to be broadcasted on national television.”(1) Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada) and Robert Bourassa (Premier of Quebec) agreed for the manifesto to be read on multiple radio channels on October 8th, 1970. Following the broadcast, Pierre Laporte (Deputy Premier and Minister of Labour of the province of Quebec) was kidnapped on October 10th by another cell within the FLQ. At this point, Premier Bourassa became desperate to find a resolution and end the FLQ crisis. As a result, he turned to Trudeau for aid. This reflected poorly on Robert Bourassa, in part, because it called into question his ability to lead. “The federal government sent in their army to protect politicians and important buildings from being targeted by the FLQ.”(2) The FLQ supporters retaliated against the federal government by gathering to protest at the Paul Sauve area. The following day, “Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act which allowed the police to search and arrest citizens without warrants and prolonged detentions without charges or the right to see a lawyer.”(2) ‘This was the first time the act had been used since WWI.'(2) It allowed for the arrest of 450 people who had gathered at the Paul Sauve area. ‘The FLQ responded to the War Measures Act by strangeling Pierre Laporte to death and leaving him in the trunk of a car where the police found him days later.'(3) On November 6th, the police discovered the hiding place of the cells who kidnapped Laporte. All were arrested and sent to jail. Following the arrests, James Cross was released from captivity on December 5th which concluded the FLQ crisis. These events resulted in a chaotic October, however, the FLQ failed to reach their goal.James Cross’ release marked the end of the FLQ crisis. The immediate results of this was disadvantageous for the FLQ, but favorable for Robert Bourassa. FLQ members were sent to jail and a few even received the death penalty. Members that escaped Canada went to either Cuba or Algeria, presumably because this had been one of the demands made by the FLQ in exchange for the release of James Cross. ‘Over the years, the members who escaped returned to Canada for their trial and were all sentenced to jail.'(2) By 1971, all members of the FLQ were in jail, hereby dissolving the organization. It has been inactive ever since. The end of the FLQ crisis alleviated a lot of political and social pressure off of Robert Bourassa. Although his Labour Minister, Pierre Laporte, had been kidnapped and murdered, Bourassa no longer had to worry about cell members kidnapping politicians or planting bombs in Quebec. There would still be controversy over Bourassa allowing Trudeau to invoke the War Measures Act. However, him doing so was the beginning of the end for the FLQ crisis because it led to a large number of FLQ members being arrested. In the aftermath of the FLQ crisis, Robert Bourassa was able to return to his regular tasks as Premier of Quebec and the FLQ group was desolated. It’s been nearly 50 years since the FLQ crisis took place and it has affected the relationship between French and English Canadians immensely. Quebec never became independent from Canada but the FLQ organization certainly reaffirmed the idea for francophones. In 1968, the Parti Quebecois was formed. Its leader at the time, Rene Levesque, stood by the same beliefs as the FLQ group but was unwilling to resort to terrorist acts to achieve his goal. This is an example how the FLQ taught other organizations how to go about their objectives; by not approaching it with terrorist intentions. The FLQ crisis has had crucial long term effects on Quebec. Not only did it help the Parti Quebecois but, it aided Quebec in their approach to the 1980 and 1955 referendum which were based on Quebec becoming separate from Canada. Since the FLQ crisis, separatism has become a very well known topic in Canada. In addition, the long term results of the FLQ crisis is that francophones have learned from the FLQs mistakes and has used that to benefit them when trying to become independent from Canada.  In response to the demands, for the release of James Cross, the FLQ  manifesto was broadcasted on October 8th, 1970 on the CBC and Radio Canada. Its main intention were to inform Canada that anglophones held a dominant position in the workplace, and to chastise Robert Bourassa. The FLQ stated in their manifesto that anglophones or “big bosses”(8)  were a “clique of voracious sharks who made Quebec their hunting preserve for cheap labour and unscrupulous exploitation.”(8) The Dupont of Canada demonstrated this behaviour when they “refused to employ French Canadians under management positions.”(8) Only anglophones were authorized, therefore, the French worked under them, doing cheap labour. This allowed the English to maintain a dominant role in the workplace. Secondly, the FLQ manifesto reprimanded Robert Bourassa for promises he made in his political platform that he did not follow through with when he became Premier of Quebec. Bourassa gave the francophones an illusion that 100,000 jobs would be available for them by 1970. However, this never occurred, and in response to Bourassa’s failure the FLQ stated in their manifesto that “in the coming year Bourassa will have to face reality – 100,000 revolutionary workers, armed and organized.”(8). In addition, Robert Bourassa positioned himself against the FLQ. For example, during the FLQ crisis Bourassa influenced Pierre Elliott Trudeau to bring in the War Measures Act which caused 450 arrests in Quebec, most of which were supporters of the FLQ. The Front de Liberation du Quebec held many beliefs that were stated in their manifesto which primarily revolved around the social dominance of anglophones and their hatred towards Robert Bourassa. During the 1960’s while the FLQ was forming and taking action as a nationalist organization, Quebec was undergoing the Quiet Revolution. The Quiet revolution was period of time when Quebec was experiencing intense social change. ‘After the death of Maurice Duplessis (the conservative Premier of Quebec), the society of Quebec became more secular allowing for the liberal party to be voted in under Jean Lesage.'(4) This was not beneficial for the FLQ because the liberal party was not left-winged nor nationalists like the FLQ group. Hence, one of the FLQs goals was to overthrow the Quebec Government. Not only was the government liberal but according to the FLQ manifesto, filled with “election riggers fighting for the rich and anglophone.”(8) Following Jean Lesage was Robert Bourassa, who lead another Liberal government that the FLQ despised even more than Lesage. Unfortunately for the FLQ, if the Quiet revolution never took place Robert Bourassa would of never been voted into office. Overall, the Quiet revolution gave Quebec a different image, an appearance the FLQ did not approve of. The FLQ wanted Quebec to be represented independently from Canada with high level of loyalty towards francophone heritage. All of which could of been possible had the Quiet revolution never occurred. In conclusion, the FLQ crisis is significant to Canadian history because it represents an organization that put Quebec through a decade of terrorist acts that eventually resulted in the kidnapping of James Cross and Pierre Laporte. In addition, the FLQ crisis is important because it showed Canada that a large portion of Quebec is working towards a world where they stand independent as their own country. Throughout the 1960s, the FLQ demonstrated actions that were influenced by their high regard for French culture. This decade included the events leading up to the FLQ crisis, the key events of the FLQ crisis, the immediate and long term results of the FLQ crisis, the creation of the FLQ manifesto and the Quiet Revolution. Overall, the Front de Liberation du Quebec will certainly be remembered for their actions taken during the FLQ crisis but, more so for their reasons behind taking those actions.

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