In October 1970, two cells of the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ), a revolutionary organization promoting an independent and socialist Quebec, kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. Armed forces were sent into Quebec to help the police and the federal government invoked the War Measures Act, temporarily suspending civil liberties.
Key Events of the October Crisis of 1970
Here is a timeline of the key events during the October Crisis.
October 5, 1970
British Trade Commissioner James Cross was kidnapped in Montreal, Quebec. Ransom demands from the Liberation cell of the FLQ included the release of 23 "political prisoners," $500,000 in gold, broadcast, and publication of the FLQ Manifesto, and an aircraft to take the kidnappers to Cuba or Algeria.
October 6, 1970
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa agreed that decisions on the FLQ demands would be made jointly by the federal government and the Quebec provincial government.
The FLQ Manifesto, or excerpts of it, was published by several newspapers.
Radio station CKAC received threats that James Cross would be killed if FLQ demands were not met.
October 7, 1970
Quebec Justice Minister Jerome Choquette said he was available for negotiations.
The FLQ Manifesto was read on CKAC radio.
October 8, 1970
The FLQ Manifesto was read on the CBC French network Radio-Canada.
October 10, 1970
The Chenier cell of the FLQ kidnapped Quebec Minister of Labour Pierre Laporte.
October 11, 1970
Premier Bourassa received a letter from Pierre Laporte pleading for his life.
October 12, 1970
The Army was sent in to guard Ottawa.
October 15, 1970
The Quebec government invited the Army into Quebec to help local police.
October 16, 1970
Prime Minister Trudeau announced the proclamation of the War Measures Act, emergency legislation dating from World War I.
October 17, 1970
The body of Pierre Laporte was found in the trunk of a car at the airport in St.-Hubert, Quebec.
November 2, 1970
The Canadian federal government and the Quebec provincial government together offered a reward of $150,000 for information leading to the arrest of the kidnappers.
November 6, 1970
Police raided the hideout of the Chenier cell and arrested Bernard Lortie. Other cell members escaped.
November 9, 1970
The Quebec Justice Minister asked for the Army to stay in Quebec for another 30 days.
December 3, 1970
James Cross was released after police discovered where he was being held and the FLQ were given assurance of their safe passage to Cuba. Cross had lost weight but said he was not physically mistreated.
December 4, 1970
Federal Justice Minister John Turner said the exiles to Cuba would be for life. Five FLQ members received passage to Cuba - Jacques Cossette-Trudel, Louise Cossette-Trudel, Jacques Lanctôt, Marc Carbonneau and Yves Langlois. They later moved to France. Eventually, all returned to Canada and served short jail terms for kidnapping.
December 24, 1970
Troops were withdrawn from Quebec.
December 28, 1970
Paul Rose, Jacques Rose, and Francis Simard, the remaining three members of the Chenier cell, were arrested. With Bernard Lortie, they were charged with kidnapping and murder. Paul Rose and Francis Simard later received life sentences for murder. Bernard Lortie was sentenced to 20 years for kidnapping. Jacques Rose was initially acquitted but later convicted of being an accessory and sentenced to eight years in prison.
February 3, 1971
A report from Justice Minister John Turner on the use of the War Measures Act said 497 people were arrested. Of these, 435 were released, 62 were charged, 32 without bail.
A sixth person, Nigel Barry Hamer, was charged in the kidnapping of James Cross. He was later convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail.