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October Crisis: Labour minister kidnapped

In October 1970, tanks roamed city streets and soldiers in full battle gear raided homes in their hunt for "terrorists." They were looking for the Front de libération du Québec; French Canadian nationalists who abducted a British diplomat and a Quebec minister. Some felt like they were living in a police state. How far would Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau go? "Just watch me," he said. Three days later he invoked the War Measures Act and a nation waited with civil liberties suspended.

On Oct. 10, 1970, kidnappers with machine guns pulled up to Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte's home and shoved him into the backseat of their car. It happened during broad daylight at the minister's suburban Montreal home while he played football with his family on the front lawn. His nephew Claude Laporte saw the whole thing and recounts the story a day later.
• Just after Front de libération du Québec member Paul Rose -- one of the kidnappers -- abducted Laporte, police nearly apprehended him at a subway station known for FLQ drop-offs. When Rose realized he was being tailed, he smashed himself in the face with a brick to produce swelling in order to make himself unrecognizable.
• Rose later said Laporte's abduction was a last-minute decision.

• The FLQ planned to kidnap a British diplomat, symbolizing anglophone oppression of Quebec, and an American diplomat, representing U.S. economic domination.
• Wrestling with divergent ideas, the FLQ instead abducted Laporte who, to them, represented the Liberal Party's right wing ideals.
• The next day, while in captivity, Laporte sent a letter to Premier Robert Bourassa pleading for police to call off the search for him or his captors would kill him.
Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: Oct. 11, 1970
Guest: Claude Laporte
Duration: 1:42

Last updated: September 23, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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