Front de Libération du Québec

Defense Speech of Paul Rose

Source: FLQ: Un Projet Revolutionnaire, Texts assembled by R. Comeau, D. Cooper, and P. Vallières. VLB Éditeur, Montreal, 1990;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.

Paul Rose, along with Francis Simard, Bernard Lortie, and his brother, Jacques Rose, was a member of the Chénier cell of the FLQ that, in October 1970, kidnapped and killed Pierre Laporte , Quebec’s Minister of Labor and Immigration. He delivered this speech at his trial on March 12, 1971. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, but was released in December 1982.

There’s an old fisherman in Gaspesie who would say to us: “when there’s a storm, I head for Percé. I do my best to get to Percé, but if I land in Barachois — a small village about 15-20 miles from Percé — if I land in Barachois that’s still a victory, because the next time I find myself at sea I'll know where I made my mistake, I'll know where I took a wrong turn, and this time I'll make it to Percé.” That’s what he said; he made a few mistakes, and this old fisherman now makes fewer and fewer of them. And if today he still makes mistakes it’s because his eyesight is fading, but this old fishermen, through the life he’s led, had realized that an obstacle is overcome in confronting it, and that even if we risk failure...even if we risk not overcoming it the first time, well, the second time things go better, and the third, and the fourth times, until at a given time there are no more obstacles!

Violence is a result, it’s not a means in itself. It’s when two forces confront each other that violence results. On June 24 1968, when Pierre Elliott Trudeau came to Montreal before his election, there was violence. But at that moment it’s a confrontation of forces: (on one side) you have the strong-arm men of the Montreal police; you have the people on the other side. And I don’t want to single out in a general way all the police, because I sincerely believe that a policeman who enters the’s because he has a certain social openness, he has a certain desire to aid his like. But I say that right now the police organization is an organization that crushes the people, it’s an organization that is there to protect those-who-exploit the people, but that doesn’t put the simple policeman in question... — I say this sincerely; there are policemen who are more prisoners than those prisoners they have to guard!

So I tell you these things to try to explain to you the climate we lived in, the climate in which we took on our responsibilities, and the climate in which we continue to assume our responsibilities.

We have an obligation toward the people who are put here, in this territory, and toward those people who speak French, in order that the individual, wherever in Quebec he is born, should have equality of possibilities, can participate in political power, can participate in economic power, can participate so that all other powers be accessible to him... We have to take back what belongs to us or used to belong to us... We have to take back these things. These things are clear and precise: they are the natural riches, they are the individuals condemned to do nothing, condemned to unemployment — Do you think that this is what they want? Do you think someone out of work has an interest in unemployment benefits? At a given moment he can become hooked on unemployment benefits, but he has no interest in it; what he wants is to work, and this according to who he is, what his identity is, not to work in order to imitate someone else. To work as a Quebecois and work on his own territory — and we've got the possibility! There are people who say that we are a prosperous people and all that! So I say sincerely: look at what this prosperity is: it’s a prosperity of expropriation! Here in Quebec we're in the process of emptying out all the riches we have, and in twenty years, when everything will have been emptied out, there will be no one left but tourists!!...

We have to take back everything that belongs to us here in order to have as a people not only the name, but the strength, the vitality, the energy and the results.

All of us are the people of the Front de Libération du Québec. It’s you, it’s me, it’s all the people who have a little bit of guts, who want to have done with slavery, this contempt that is subtle but even more effective — because it’s subtle.

As members of the Front de Libération du Québec we were faced with a pack or a pile of (pointing to the tribunal), of (pointing to the investigators), of (pointing to the Crown counsels)... terrorist acts in themselves! And these actions are depredations, frustrations, it’s taking from people the possibility of explaining themselves and this despite the fact that we put in doubt the possibility of expressing oneself. For I say — and I verified it during this trial — that your democracy (pointing at the tribunal), that this democracy (pointing at the prosecutors) is a paper democracy, — but when in reality, when the time comes to have these rights, there’s always another principle that prevents their acquisition...

I think it'd be better to write less and to arrange things so that they might actually be applied.

But that isn’t the example of this court! We have seen that if at the level of the container all-is-juridical, all-is-justice-itself, at the level of the contained it’s not the same thing! One rule of the Code can be shown that annuls another rule — and we stroll from one rule to another! Were these rules made to annul other rules? They perhaps weren’t made to annul other rules but they are used (pointing at the prosecutors ) in these Courts of Quebec — despite all the protests I make in these courts — in the interior of these courts, I tell you, they are used (pointing at the tribunal) in such a way to ensure in advance the line that (pointing at the prosecutors and the tribunal) was set out.

So I don’t surprise you if...

Because you know full well that the young people who we are... there are more of these young people outside. These young people, it is they who are going to make society, and that so-ci-e-ty, they don’t want it like the one that you (pointing at the prosecutors and the tribunal) gave them, and this so-ci-e-ty we want it to be one of Par-ti-ci-pa-tion! We don’t any longer want a society where every four years someone comes and says: “Decide!” And then for four years we have nothing to do! We want to par-ti-ci-pate; we go into the schools, we learn, we assume certain attitudes, so we want...WE THINK THAT WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE IN OUR PLACE AND TO TAKE WHAT BELONGS TO US.

It’s not a mini-minority of the population, it’s not what we even call a population, I tell you who...! — Those people who are called the establishment, those people who control everything from behind, and in front give the image of a democracy, give the image of high principles of justice, give an image when everything is only image!

Look! Look at all these principles! Look at the right to strike... as long as you're not on strike! Yet again this is a principle!!! There’s always an injunction that comes at the right moment and the right to strike is taken away from you! On the principle of public order??? But a public order that isn’t capable of assuring rights, well, that’s not public order, that’s public disorder. Because public order must foresee not only rights, but foresee the fashion (a fashion!) for the rights to be respected, must foresee the multiple situations where these rights must be respected. Right now beautiful principles like the Canadian Declaration of Rights are broadcast, but they aren’t applied, and when the time comes to apply them, they're applied in a very partial fashion so-that-they-don’t-harm-those-in-place!

Well there is a Great Power in people-who-are-there (establishment) through the rules, through laws, through the Canadian Declaration of Rights, through all the principles that are broadcast, a Great Power for manipulation under the façade of democracy.

I tell you that I take my part of responsibility for the events of October as a member of the Front de Libération du Québec, whatever actions were carried out. I take them... I take the responsibility. And I tell you right away that in a sense your verdict has practically no importance, because if you said acquitted or guilty I'd be found guilty one way or another, this is nothing but a step in the long procedures..., the establishment has found me guilty, finds me guilty, guilty of being Québécois — and I tell you I am guilty of being Québécois... and this responsibility, I will assume it up till the end, without limit, because I know that here, with the energy and the people we have, we can build a prosperous society...

(Interrupted by the judge: this is not in the proof. Return to the testimony and the proofs.)

As proof, in any event, you have among others situations the situation of terrorism in Montreal, a French city! The second largest French city in the world! (interrupted by the judge) There are two French TV stations! And two English TV stations! (interrupted by the judge) There are six French radio stations! There are six English radio stations! (interrupted by the judge), and in Quebec there are three English universities! (interrupted by the judge) and four French universities!

(Interrupted by the judge: “That’s the end of your defense speech” )

Well then I tell you that the establishment finds me guilty; you're verdict has no importance. I tell you the establishment finds me guilty of being Québécois,