The Father (Pierre Trudeau)
On October 16, 1970, Pierre Elliott Trudeau activated the Canadian War Measures Act as requested by Quebec authorities because of the kidnapping of James Cross and Pierre Laport by the FLQ. The former was the British Trade Commissioner in Montreal, the latter was the Quebec Minister of Labour and Immigration. This activation suspended all civil liberties in Canada.
It was the first time the War Measures Act had been activated except for a state of war, i.e. World War I and World War II. A draconian measure, no doubt, however with instructions from the FLQ killers, Pierre Laport’s dead body was eventually found stuffed in the trunk of a car. James Cross was released two months later by the FLQ and, as part of that deal, the killers were released and flown in safety to Cuba. They eventually returned to Canada in the early 1980’s to face only light jail sentences.
Pierre Trudeau had given himself totalitarian and abusive powers and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. But the loss of all civil liberties made many Canadians nervous. Hundreds of people, deemed suspicious for sundry reasons, were arbitrarily arrested and incarcerated. Almost all were innocent and eventually released, but strong-arm actions are not easily forgotten… nor forgiven, at least by those who were affected and those who cared.