1970 October Crisis
Reflecting about our past allows us to better understand our history- including our faults, breaks and our darkest times.
The past leaves its mark. And unsurprisingly, the mark is different for each person and for each perspective. That is why we must approach our history with humility, honesty and courage. So that we can try- in so much as it’s possible, to provide ourselves with common ground for reflection.
Regardless of which side we’re on, no person holds the monopoly of truth about the events surrounding October 1970. Many of us were not even born during that period.
But we must nevertheless talk about it, because it is a part of our collective history, a history that survives to this day.
From 1963 to 1970, 7 people lost their lives in Quebec, including a young man of 16 years of age, and dozens of people were injured in circumstances that are still hard for us to digest.
Weapons, blood, the terrorist actions perpetrated by the FLQ are painful parts of our past. It is difficult to reconcile these violent actions with how we perceive ourselves as a people. And yet, this violence did in fact take place. And Quebec’s collective imaginary is still profoundly affected by it.
If I speak the name Pierre Laporte today, we immediately think about the man who was assassinated by the FLQ in 1970.
But Pierre Laporte was so much more than that; a journalist, a lawyer. A man who, during the Great Darkness, dared to use his pen to denounce scandals.
Pierre Laporte the Minister. Pierre Laporte, the family man. But also Pierre Laporte the MNA. Like all of us in this room. Someone is likely sitting where he sat 50 years ago.
Pierre Laporte was found dead on October 17, 1970. His only crime was translating his political ideas into concrete engagement as a MNA. Talking about Pierre Laporte’s life is also a bit like telling our story.
During 1970 October Crisis, governments had no other choice but to take decisive action. It was the case for the City of Montreal, the Government of Quebec and the federal government alike.
But there were excesses. Abusive searches, arrests and detentions by the hundreds. That happened too. Innocent Quebecers were imprisoned because of their political allegiance to independence.
And because of these excesses, these violations to the rights of innocent people, the affected governments should apologize. It is a symbolic gesture, sure, but it is a necessary step in the process of reconciling with our past.
I am the daughter of a political prisoner. My father once paid a heavy price for his involvement and his beliefs; he lost his freedom. I carry within me the deep conviction that being imprisoned, searched, or assassinated because of one’s political choices will always be unbearable.
We have a duty to condemn the use of violence in a democracy. We know the hurt that it has caused us.
That was 50 years ago. It is time for us to reconcile with the past.
Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party
Click here to hear the PLQ motion that was tabled today on the 1970 October Crisis. No consent.