FLQ 1977

The Execution of Pierre Laporte

Source: Pierre Vallières, L'Execution de Pierre Laporte. Éditions Québec/Amerique, Montreal, 1977;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.

In 1976, in a book completed on the day René Lévesque and the pro-independence Parti Québécois (PQ) were voted into power, Pierre Vallières presented a revisionist version of the events of October 1970. Laporte wasn’t killed by members of the FLQ. Rather it was a plot by the federal government to discredit and destroy the independence movement. The FLQ was presented as small and ineffective, a plaything in the hands of the authorities. Only the government (or the mob) could have carried out the killing.

Vallières, who was already growing distant from his former comrades, was now to be almost totally cut off from his erstwhile comrades. The FLQ members responsible for the kidnapping have never discussed the details, but later admitted and accepted their responsibility for the death of Pierre Laporte.

Three principal stages can be identified in the federal aggression of 1970.

  1. May 7, 1970 the Trudeau cabinet takes the decision to proclaim the War Measures Act as soon as the circumstances seem favorable. To this end it creates a special committee which, in collaboration with the army, the RCMP and several other governmental services, judges that a kidnapping carried out by the FLQ would be a good way to set off the crisis. The army already has a plan in readiness, which is called Opération Essai. In September 1970 it seems certain that the Libération cell [of the FLQ] will go into action. September 28 there’s a state of “red alert.”
  2. On October 5, 1970 the British diplomat James Cross is kidnapped. The authorities put in place the circumstances that will justify the proclamation of War Measures and will permit the unfolding of Opération Essai. On a whole, though, the cabinet of Quebec doesn’t participate to the extent wished for by the federal government.
  3. On October 10, 1970 the minister Pierrre Laporte is kidnapped in his turn. It then becomes easier for Ottawa to obtain the collaboration of the government of Quebec in the decision to impose the War Measures. The Bourassa[1] cabinet gives its agreement the 14th. The 15th the army enters Montreal. The 16th the War Measures Act is proclaimed. October 17 Pierre Laporte is “executed” by a phantom cell, Dieppe (Royal 22nd). If Pierre Laporte had been liberated, what would he have said of the proclamation of the War Measures Act? What would he have said of the circumstances of his captivity? But the death of the minister serves to justify the proclamation and the pursuit without any resistance of the generalized round-up of many Québécois. Opération Essai is assured of achieving its objectives. In Ottawa it is hoped that the indépendantistes of Quebec will not be able to recover from this blow.

With an “impacable logic,” Opération Essai unfurled in the name of the defense of “fundamental” liberties. If they'd really wanted to the authorities could have put an end to the activities of the FLQ since 1969. They could have dismantled the organization without any difficulty. The preferred to “plant” their agents there in order to put the unleashing of Opération Essai on the heads of the Québécois.

Already convinced that Quebec didn’t deserve any form of “special status” within the Confederation, the federal government had no hesitation about “sacrificing” Pierre Laporte in order to reach its ends, i.e., to essentially submit the government of Quebec to its dictates and eliminate the “separatist threat.” Robert Bourassa collaborated without hesitation in the application of the first objective. The people of Quebec, more clever than they appeared, prevented the realization of the second.

Six years later the indépendantistes took over the government of Quebec in the course of a democratic election that gave them a comfortable parliamentary majority. In this first stage the federal plan, piloted by Trudeau, seems to have been foiled. But in the next period the inevitable confrontation becomes increasingly clear. “The crisis is immediate,” Pierre Trudeau declared ten days after the arrival in power of the Parti Québécois (PQ).

When it was in the opposition the PQ several times called for a public inquest on the facts and causes of the October Crisis, and the true circumstances of the “execution” of Pierre Laporte...

The repressive functioning of the Canadian political system currently constitutes a serious threat to the people of Quebec. The October Crisis wasn’t an “historical accident,” but on the contrary the premeditated execution of a plan that had no other objective than to compromise all of our future chances. It is urgent that this be taken note of and that we act in consequence. Firstly, by casting all possible light on the events of 1970 via a public inquest; secondly, by the most elementary and enlightened of caution, avoiding the provocations and traps that the central power will not fail to fabricate in the hopes of degrading the political and social climate in order to profit by this in order, if possible, to return things to the status quo.

1. Liberal Prime minister of Quebec during the Crisis.