October Crisis & the War Measures Act

English: Pierre Trudeau speaking at a fundrais...
English: Pierre Trudeau speaking at a fundraising meeting for the Liberal Party at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montréal, Québec. Cropped version of File:Pierre_Elliot_Trudeau.jpg Français : Pierre Elliott Trudeau lors d’une campagne de fonds pour le parti Libéral du Canada à l’hôtel Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth à Montréal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canadians were shocked on October 19, 1970 when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the House of Commons passed the War Measures Act.

The federal and Quebec governments where struggling with the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ). The had kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross on October 5. They held him for a ransom of $500,000 and demanded that the CBC broadcast the FLQ manifesto.

Then they abducted Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte on October 10; his body was discovered eight days later.

At one point, from the steps of parliament, the press asked him about the extreme implementation of the War Measures Act, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau replied, “Just watch me.” That statement would forever become a part of Trudeau’s legacy.

The FLQ, basically, were a group intent on separating the Province of Quebec from Canada. The had planted nearly one hundred bombs in the Montreal area, some of which caused death and injury.

Eventually, a deal was made, and the kidnappers were allowed to go to Cuba. Those responsible for the murder of Laporte were caught and sent to trial.

For more on the FLQ, Wikipedia

Also I suggest going to the CBC site for even more.


  1. It is important to remember history, and to also remember lessons that lay in the events of the time. I was effected very personally by the War Measures Act inasmuch as when I was young i did drugs and one evening there was a knock at the door and a crew of 5 or 6 police officers, RCMP, OPP, and town officers, were at my door to search my family home. I asked for a Search Warrant, but I was informed that they did not need one that the War Measures Act allowed the police all the authority that they needed.

    I was not political at the time, I did not live in Quebec where the FLQ were, I was a 17 year old kid living in Ontario. What was learned was there are always people that will abuse power (power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – Lord Acton, England) and that is why it is imperitive that we have laws that restrict those who hold power. That is why we must be vigilant today to make sure our politicians know we are working to keep them in check. A quote from a favourite historical personalities – Thomas Jefferson, When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.

    I wish that all the apathetic people of the world knew that. Thanks for allowing me to leave a comment.


    • Thank you for sharing that. Very emotional too. I agree with you totally about abuse of power! It’s unfortunate some people must have that sort of experience to come to this realization, so I’m glad you shared that with me / us!


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