Saturday 12 September 2009

"Have you ever seen a bus full of the English blow up?"

Moulin à paroles, this weekend’s Quebec City hot-air-a-thon marking the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, was organized following the cancellation of a re-enactment of France’s defeat, an event denounced by sovereignist groups as federalist propaganda (and hey, who knows propaganda better than some of these guys!).

Perhaps the organizers are still willing to accept, at this late date, additional submissions? I offer the following, from the Front de libération du Québec’s No.3, March 1969 issue of Victoire [all texts taken from Gerard Pelletier’s The October Crisis. Translated by Joyce Marshall. Toronto/Montreal: McLelland and Stewart Ltd, 1971. 247pp.]


…In a little while the English, the Federalists, the exploiters, the toadies of the occupiers, the lackeys of imperialism—all those who betray the workers and the Quebec nation—will fear for their lives and they will be right.

For the FLQ will kill.

…Our present cells will look like amateurs when our elite groups go into action.

Have you ever seen a bus full of the English blow up?

Have you ever seen an English library burning?

Have you ever seen the president of a Yankee corporation under fire?

Have you ever seen a pellet micro-bomb?

Have you ever seen a miniature incendiary bomb?

Have you ever seen a can explode on the shelf of a supermarket in the British quarter?

Have you ever seen a Protestant church burning?

Have you ever seen Westmount without telephones or electricity and with its water supply poisoned?

Have you ever seen sharp-shooters ambushed on roofs, shooting down traitors?

Be sure you soon will!!! [Pelletier, p.224]

I’m a writer researching the FLQ era for a novel I’m working on. And though I grew up in Montreal during that time, I was shocked at the true accounting of the FLQ’s handiwork, hundreds of crimes including:

From 1963 to 1967…about 35 bombs, most of them low-powered.

From 1968 to 1970…50 to 60 bombs, most of them high-powered (There were also some super-bombs, among them one composed of 141 sticks of dynamite, which was intended to destroy a section of Metropolitan Boulevard…[perhaps Montreal’s equivalent of the Gardner; Pelletier, p.79]

The bombs were set in mailboxes, at textile companies, on bridges, at radio stations, at union headquarters, on the McGill University campus, under statues of Queen Victoria, in Central Station. Trains were derailed. Not to mention the dozens of armed robberies that netted the group tens of thousands of dollars, electronic and military matériel.

These guys were not just a bunch of university loudmouths (though some were that, too). They were terrorists who trained in Jordan with Palestinian commandos. Eight months before the October Crisis, two FLQ members in a panel truck were arrested with a sawed-off shotgun and a communiqué announcing the kidnapping of the Israeli consul.

Perhaps Moulin à paroles will appreciate this apologia of René Lévesque’s, offered in the aftermath of the October Crisis, from La Presse, p. A6, November 9, 1970:

…there are certain things that make people turn to crime in Quebec. I am not excusing anyone and I will never applaud the assassination…[of a man M. Levesque knew and worked with for decades!]. But it can be explained. If we keep the same kind of society, we will have the same kind of thing…The police and the army will have to leave some day and Trudeau’s filthy tricks will not prevent all sorts of other kidnappings. [Pelletier, p. 180]

Trudeau’s filthy tricks? The mind boggles.

If there’s a humour section, perhaps this gem will suffice:

We do not terrorize our people; on the contrary, the Front de Liberation du Quebec is a vast front of love and fraternity.

La Cognée, official organ of the FLQ, May 1964

It is hurtful in the extreme to the memories and the dignity of the dozens of people who risked their lives--who were hurt, maimed or killed--during the FLQ’s reign of terror.

Perhaps Moulin à paroles would like to close its “Hommage au FLQ” section with this from La Presse of October 19, 1970 [Pelletier, p. 102]:


LAPORTE, Pierre, Hon. A Montréal. Le 17 octobre 1970 à l'âge de 49 ans, est décède, l’Honorable Pierre Laporte. Ministre du Travail et de l’Immigration, gouvernement du Québec. Époux de Françoise Brouillette. Père de Claire et Jean. Les funérailles auront lieu mardi le 20 octobre 1970. Le convoi funèbre partira du Nouveau Palais de Justice No 100, rue Notre-Dame, Est, pour se rendre à l’église Notre-Dame de Montréal où le service sera célèbre a 4 heures. Et de la au cimetière de la Côte-des-Neiges, lieu de sépulture. Parents et amis sont priés d’y assister sans autre invitation. S.V.P. pas de fleurs. Dons au Camp Françoise Cabrini seraient grandement appréciés au 4285 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montréal 215.

May his memory be for a blessing.