October Crisis


The October Crisis (French: La crise d’Octobre) occurred in October 1970 in the province of Quebec in Canada, mainly in the Montreal metropolitan area. Members of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped the provincial Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte and the British diplomat James Cross. In response, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the only peacetime use of the Canada War Measures Act. The kidnappers murdered Laporte, and negotiations led to Cross’s release and the kidnappers’ exile to Cuba.
The Premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa, and the Mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, supported Trudeau’s invocation of the War Measures Act, which limited civil liberties. The police were enabled with far-reaching powers, and they arrested and detained, without bail, 497 individuals, all but 62 of whom were later released without charges. The Quebec government also requested military aid to the civil power, and Canadian Forces deployed throughout Quebec; they acted in a support role to the civil authorities of Quebec.At the time, opinion polls throughout Canada, including in Quebec, showed widespread support for the use of the War Measures Act. The response, however, was criticized at the time by prominent politicians such as René Lévesque and Tommy Douglas.The events of October 1970 galvanized support against the use of violence in efforts to gain Quebec sovereignty and accelerated the movement towards electoral means of attaining greater autonomy and independence, including support for the sovereigntist Parti Québécois, which formed the provincial government in 1976.