Key Moments Handout Exemplar The October Crisis 1970



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Key Moments – Handout Exemplar – The October Crisis 1970

The October Crisis was a low point in French-English relations. The terrorist actions of the FLQ and the implementation of the war measures act by the federal government increased sentiments of both federalism and separatism, further dividing Canadians.


  • Vive le Quebec Libre

    • French president Charles de Gaulle visited Montreal in 1967 and said “Vive le Quebec libre!” The crowd reacted positively, demonstrating the increasing separatist feeling in Quebec.

  • Front de Liberation de Quebec

    • Bombs in mailboxes (symbols of imperial power) and stirred up “liberation” feelings in Quebec.

    • They kidnapped James Cross (British diplomat) and Pierre Laporte (Quebec’s minister of labour) in October 1970, sending ransom notes demanding the release of political prisoners

    • Cross was released, but Laporte was murdered, his body left in the trunk of a car.

  • War Measures Act

    • Trudeau invoked the war measures act and famously said, when asked how far he would go to ensure law and order “Just watch me.”

    • Most Canadians support the act, even in Quebec where 440 arrests are made without cause or trial.

    • Only Tommy Douglas is opposed on human rights grounds

    • Most people are released after 40 days of incarceration

  • Rene Levesque and the rise of the PQ

    • In 1976 the Parti Quebecois, now headed by Rene Levesque, wins the provincial election, promising a referendum which he holds in 1980

    • This indicates a rise in the level of support for separatism.

  • Referendum and after

    • He loses the referendum in 1980, but the PQ continues to be the opposition or government (last time 1998 – 2003) in Quebec

    • Separatism continues strong with the establishment of the Bloc Quebecois in 1993, a federal party headed by Lucien Bouchard, winning 54 of the 75 Quebec seats in the House of Commons.

    • Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc in the federal election of May 2011, loses his seat and has only 12 remaining, losing official party status. The federalist NDP gain most of the seats by promising a special place for Quebec in Canada.




LOTs – Lower Order Thinking questions

  1. Name two separatists and two federalist politicians.

  2. Name two events which indicated strong separatist feelings in Quebec

  3. What is the difference between the Parti Quebecois and the Bloc Quebecois?

HOTs – Higher Order Thinking questions

  1. Was Trudeau right to invoke the war measures act? Explain

  2. What do you think Quebec hoped to gain by separation?

  3. What do you think the 2011 federal election results mean for the future of separatism in Quebec?


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