October 10

This Day in History

General Interest

Oct 10, 1970:

October Crisis in Canada

During the October Crisis, the Quebec Liberation Front (FLQ), a militant separatist group, kidnaps Quebec labor minister Pierre Laporte in Montreal. Five days earlier, FLQ terrorists had seized British trade commissioner James Richard Cross. In exchange for the lives of the men, the FLQ demanded the release of two dozen FLQ members convicted of various charges, including kidnappings, bombings, and arms theft.

Believing the situation to be out of control, the Quebec government asked the Canadian federal government to send troops to the French-Canadian province to help maintain order. Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau responded by proclaiming the War Powers Act, under which the FLQ was banned, some civil liberties were suspended, and thousands of troops were sent to Montreal. In a series of police raids, more than 400 Quebec separatists were taken into custody and held without charges. On October 18, the body of Pierre Laporte was found in the trunk of a car near Saint-Hubert Airport. The apartment building holding Cross and his kidnappers was discovered in late November. After a tense standoff, the kidnappers agreed to release Cross in return for safe passage to Cuba for themselves and their families. Cross was freed on December 4 after the group arrived in Cuba. Laporte's kidnappers were later arrested and convicted of kidnapping and murder.

The October Crisis was a rare period of violence during Quebec's Quiet Revolution, an otherwise peaceful effort by Quebecois politicians to gain greater autonomy within the English-dominated federation of Canada.

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