'Just watch me': When Pierre Trudeau confronted the October Crisis
Reporter asked how far will the prime minister would go to keep people safe
Canada looked more like a police state than a democracy on Oct. 13, 1970.
Eight days earlier, a Quebec separatist group, the FLQ (Front de libération du Québec), had kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross and Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte.
By calling in army tanks and men in full gear, Prime Minister Pierre 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 had asked Trudeau, amid a crowd of journalists waiting for him outside Parliament, in raw CBC footage showing Trudeau's discussion with reporters that day.
'Go on and bleed'
"Haven't you noticed?" Trudeau responded. "What's your worry?"
The exchange lasted several minutes more, with Trudeau defending his refusal to allow government ministers to be used as "tools of this blackmail" by the FLQ.
He said measures like soldiers on the streets would prevent further kidnappings, but Ralfe pushed back about "the kind of society that you live in."
"There's a lots of bleeding hearts around that don't like to see people with helmets and guns," said Trudeau. "All I can say is, go on and bleed. It's more important to keep law and order in this society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of a soldier's helmet."
'How far would you go?'
Ralfe then asked Trudeau how far he would go to protect Canadians' safety during the crisis.
With a shrug, Trudeau replied: "Just watch me."
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.