The October Crisis and why it is still important 44 years later

Security is a term that is often discussed with distain and mistrust by scholars, academics and media alike. In today’s society many scholars like to talk about how we live in a ‘post-9/11’ era and as a result have witnessed the implementation of many aggressive security measures. It was after these horrific events that North American policing was irreversibly changed (Giroux, 2004), enacting measures that many scholars and media outlets would say infringe our civil liberties. When referring to anything related to this new ‘security state’ it is a post 9/11 state, but is it really? This October marked the 44th anniversary of an event that changed Canadian history and may very well be the event that most scholars should examine as the event that changed the idea of policing, security and Canada forever.

The 1970 October Crisis was a situation that occurred in Montreal, Canada. The Crisis began on the 5th of October 1970 with the kidnapping of James Cross, a British trade commissioner operating in Montreal (Smith, 2013). This specific event marked the beginning of the crisis, but does not explain why such drastic measure would be taken, for that a little background information is required.

Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ) was a radical organization that was formed because a group of individuals began to be fed up with the Federal government and secondly the current state of Canada, with rising unemployment and increased debt these individuals were looking for answers. With inspiration from independence  movements in other countries (Algeria and Egypt), they decided direct action was required (Smith, 2013). Thus the FLQ was born, an organization that relies on violence and intimidation as their tools and the liberation of Quebec as their answer to their problems (Smith, 2013).

What this blog hopes to achieve is the in-depth examination of the specific event involving the kidnapping of Pierre Laporte.  Mr. Laporte was a Deputy Premier and Minister of Labour for the province of Quebec, due to the rising unemployment in the province it had made him a prime target for the FLQ. It was after his kidnapping that Prime Minister Trudeau used the War Measures Act (Smith, 2013). Marking the first time ever in Canadian history that the act was implemented during peace time, this act allowed the restriction of certain liberties from Canadians, such as the ability for the police to arrest on suspicion alone and the implementing of a curfew (Smith, 2013).

The FLQ had committed over 200 crimes since 1963 to 1970, which included 95 bombings of mailboxes, government buildings and various other targets. It wasn’t until the kidnapping of Pierre Laporte that the situation had reached an all time high (Smith, 2013). This event is not only important in what happened after as a reaction from the federal government, but also how groups of dissent are not always operating as one, but can have splinter groups and the media will paint it as one organization. What this event will teach us is how dissent is an extremely complicated affair that leaves serious ramifications for generations to come to endure.


Giroux, H. (2004). War on Terror. Third Text, 18, 201-211

Gendron, G. (2010, September 24). Révélations sur la mort de Pierre Laporte. ICI Radio-Canada, p. 1. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from

Smith, D. (2013, August 13). October Crisis. Canadian Encyclopedia Retrieved October 13, 2014, from



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