Politics

War Measures Act slammed on anniversary

Canada would never have gone on to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council if the War Measures Act had been publicized around the world 40 years ago, former Quebec premier Bernard Landry said Saturday.

Canada would never have gone on to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council if the War Measures Act had been publicized around the world 40 years ago, former Quebec premier Bernard Landry said Saturday.

Landry was participating at a ceremony to unveil a monument bearing the names of more than 450 Quebecers arrested after Pierre Elliott Trudeau invoked the act on Oct. 16, 1970.

Soldiers of the Royal 22nd Regiment from Quebec City stand guard on one of the many bridges in Montreal after the War Measures Act was invoked Oct. 16, 1970. ((Canadian Press))
 Six days earlier, members of the Front de liberation du Quebec had kidnapped provincial labour minister Pierre Laporte. British diplomat James Cross had already been abducted on Oct. 5.

Laporte's body was discovered stuffed in the trunk of a car on Oct. 17.

"If what Canada did in October 1970 had been publicized and explained properly around the world, Canada would never have been on the United Nations Security Council," Landry said of the massive roundup of people considered to be FLQ sympathizers.

Canada has had six two-year terms on the council, most recently in 1999 and 2000. Its first term after the October Crisis was in 1977-78.

Landry accused the Trudeau government of practising "psychological state terrorism" with the War Measures Act. And the ex-premier said the best way to remember those who were arrested is to "make amends for the injustice and humiliation that our people were subjected to."

Landry accused the Canada of today of "conditioning" new immigrants to Quebec by having them pledge allegiance to the Queen.

Landry also called Canada's failure this month to obtain a UN Security Council seat a sign that the country's international reputation is no longer what it was.

Earlier on Saturday, NDP Leader Jack Layton said the War Measures Act should never be forgotten.

"It's always important to remember history so we can prevent any such initiative in the future," Layton said. "It's important to learn things about our history."

Layton recalled being a student at McGill University at the time and remembered the tension on campus and on the streets.

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