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'Just watch me': Pierre Trudeau and the October Crisis

After a British diplomat and a Quebec cabinet minister are kidnapped by the FLQ, a Quebec separatist group, the prime minister debates reporters on the steps of Parliament about tanks and armed soldiers in Canadian cities.

How far will the prime minister go to keep people safe?

Canada looks more like a police state than a democracy eight days after the kidnapping of British Trade Commissioner James Cross. 1:54

Canada looked more like a police state than a democracy eight days after the kidnappings of British Trade Commissioner James Cross and Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte by a Quebec separatist group, the FLQ (Front de libération du Québec). 

By calling in army tanks and men in full gear, Trudeau's aim was to boost national security. But the military's presence made some Canadians feel a whole lot less secure.

"What is it with all these men and guns around here?" CBC reporter Tim Ralfe asked Trudeau, amid a crowd of journalists waiting for him outside Parliament. 

"Haven't you noticed?" Trudeau responded. "What's your worry?"

Their exchange would last another six minutes before Ralfe asked Trudeau how far he would go to protect Canadians' safety during the crisis. Came the reply: "Just watch me." 

A newsboy in Ottawa holds up a newspaper with a headline reporting the invoking of the War Measures Act on Oct. 16, 1970. It was the first time Canada had invoked the act in peacetime, put into effect following the kidnapping of British diplomat James Cross and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte by the FLQ. (Peter Bregg/Canadian Press)

Three days later Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, giving police the right to arrest and detain people on suspicion alone. The act was created in 1914 for cases of war or national emergency.

Trudeau also outlawed the FLQ and told police to arrest those with "extreme-left" literature, posters, stickers or pamphlets.