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1966: Bomb in Parliament misses its target

The Story

It could have been a lot worse. On May 18, 1966, Canada's Parliament is shaken by a bomb explosion in the third-floor men's washroom. The only victim is Paul Chartier, the would-be bomber. He was apparently on his way back to the public gallery with the fuse lit, intent on throwing the bomb to the floor of the House of Commons. In this special report, CBC reporters try to learn more about Chartier's motives and ask whether Parliament needs to tighten its security procedures.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Newsmagazine Special Report
Broadcast Date: May 18, 1966
Host: Peter Reilly
Reporters: Kingsley Brown
People: Paul Hellyer, Lester Pearson
Duration: 26:16

Did You know?

• Paul Chartier, 45, purchased 10 sticks of dynamite, a length of fuse and detonators from a Newmarket, Ont. company. He told the clerk he intended to use the materials for prospecting and supplied a false name and address. When buying the bomb equipment, he asked how long the fuse would burn and was told it would take 60 seconds per foot. The clerk later testified she was mistaken and the correct burn time was 40 seconds per foot.  

• Chartier was discovered to have written letters, journals and speeches denouncing the federal government. After the bombing a note was discovered in his coat pocket beginning: "When I am president of Canada..."  In a 23-page letter to the Edmonton Journal, he said he intended to kill as many members of Parliament as possible before becoming president.

• At the inquest held several weeks after the bombing, a doctor who had treated Chartier testified that the man had a "mild mental disorder" but was not certifiably insane.

• Speaker Lucien Lamoureux announced tighter security measures for Parliament three weeks after the bombing. Staffing numbers were beefed up, patrols in the Centre Block were increased, and security staff would undergo specialized training. Visitors in the public gallery would have to check all parcels, bags and bundles and employees would have to start wearing photo ID badges.


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