CBC Digital Archives

1970: FLQ frees British diplomat after October Crisis

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.

media clip
After eight weeks of confinement by the Front de libération du Québec, British diplomat James Cross looks back at his ordeal. Two days ago, on Dec. 3, 1970, Cross's abductors released him to police. In the beginning Cross tried to reason with his captors, having political discussions. But after the murder of Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte by another FLQ cell, Cross didn't feel much like talking. Today, he expresses condolences to the Laporte family (spoken in French): "Why Pierre Laporte is dead and I am free, I do not know."

• While in captivity, Cross watched 162 French television films.

• Cross's wife Barbara said her husband was "fit" upon his release but had lost a lot of weight.

• In exchange for his release, Cross's kidnappers received safe passage to Cuba by airplane.

• Later, six members of the FLQ's Liberation cell were convicted of Cross's kidnapping and sentenced to jail terms ranging from one to two years.

Also on December 5:
1837: Lower Canada, now Quebec, is placed under martial law during a rebellion that had broken out largely over constitutional issues.
1954: Canada announces the recall of its remaining troops from Korea.
2000: Seagram's, the 76 year old Canadian company sells its beverage division to Pernod Ricard, a French company.
Medium: Television
Program: Update
Broadcast Date: Dec. 5, 1970
Guest(s): James Cross
Duration: 7:32

Last updated: October 22, 2014

Page consulted on December 4, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

The October Crisis: Civil Liberties Suspended

In October 1970, tanks roamed city streets and soldiers in full battle gear raided homes in th...

The October Crisis: extra clips

In October 1970, tanks roamed city streets and soldiers in full battle gear raided homes in th...

1970: Pierre Trudeau says 'Just watch me' dur...

Canada looks more like a police state than a democracy eight days after the kidnapping of Brit...

1970: FLQ kidnaps Pierre Laporte

Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte is kidnapped by the FLQ in the escalating October Crisis...

1990: Nelson Mandela addresses Canadian Parli...

After 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela is set free and travels to Canada to address Parliame...