Montreal

Plains of Abraham reading attracts thousands

Thousands of people gathered Saturday on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec for a commemoration that became controversial over the inclusion of an FLQ document.

Thousands of people gathered Saturday on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec for a commemoration that became controversial over the inclusion of an FLQ document.

The Moulin à paroles is a 24-hour read-a-thon that marks the 250th anniversary of the British military victory on the Plains, a battle that ended France's power in what became Canada.

The weekend event in Quebec City features readings from 140 texts relating to the province's history from the battle in 1759 to the present.

Among the dozens of old letters, essays and speeches is the nine-page 1970 manifesto of the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ).

The manifesto was broadcast nationwide during the October Crisis by pro-independence kidnappers as a list of demands in exchange for the return of a captured British diplomat.

The decision to include the manifesto led most federalists to boycott the event.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest said his government isn't participating because the inclusion of the FLQ document is simply too upsetting for too many Quebecers.

Sovereigntist politicians are attending in large numbers, including Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe and Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois.

They called the federalist boycott ridiculous, saying the October Crisis, as disturbing and violent as it was, remains a key chapter in Quebec's history.

Moulin organizer Pierre-Laval Pineault said he didn't expect any disruptions despite the controversy.

"We expect a peaceful event," he said.

However, Pineault said the uproar over the reading of the FLQ manifesto came as a surprise.

 "We were naive about this controversy. We didn't expect this kind of controversy." he said.