Blanchet demands apology from Trudeau for War Measures Act, passed 50 years ago

OTTAWA —
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is calling on the government to apologize for legislation that remains controversial 50 years after its passage during the October Crisis in Quebec.

In October 1970, the Liberal government under then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau decided to suspend civil liberties by invoking the War Measures Act in response to the kidnapping of a Quebec cabinet minister and a British diplomat by members of the militant FLQ separatist group.

The legislation, passed at the request of the Quebec premier and Montreal’s mayor, saw soldiers patrolling the streets as authorities rounded up hundreds of residents under suspicion of involvement in the abductions.

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In a motion put forward Wednesday, Blanchet demanded an official apology from the prime minister for his father’s deployment of the army to arrest and detain without charge nearly 500 Quebecers.

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Blanchet says he has not secured support from any other parties, and criticized the Conservatives’ Quebec lieutenant Richard Martel for refusing to call for an apology.

The October Crisis, which culminated in the discovery of Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte’s body in the trunk of a car, marked the first time the War Measures Act had been invoked in peacetime.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020

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