I’m no expert in Quebec history, so I always appreciate being told exactly who did what. Unfortunately, facts of the sort forgetful readers like me need to be reminded of were missing from the Globe and Mail‘s story today about a plan to read the FLQ’s 1970 manifesto at an event marking the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
The story introduces the controversy about dredging up the Front de libération du Québec’s old ramblings by alluding to concern in some quarters that a public reading of the manifesto might “be interpreted as a vindication of the group’s actions, which led to the death of kidnapped provincial Liberal cabinet minister Pierre Laporte.”
Now, how was it again that the FLQ’s “actions” “led” to Laporte’s death? Quite directly: they murdered him. I looked it up to make sure I wasn’t mistaken: kidnapped him, strangled him, stuffed his body in the trunk of a car.
But maybe if I’d read on a bit deeper into the story it would have told me all that. Let’s see.
Next reference to Laporte: “The manifesto was read on the public airwaves before the death of Pierre Laporte.”
And the next: “Provincial Liberal cabinet minister Sam Hamad lashed out at organizers, saying the inclusion of the FLQ manifesto [in the commemorative reading] was an attempt to vindicate the kidnappings of British diplomat James Richard Cross and Pierre Laporte, who was later found dead in the trunk of a car.”
So no luck. Three references to Laporte’s demise, zero mention of what actually happened to him. The story might have said something like: The manifesto was read on the public airwaves before FLQ members strangled Laporte and stuffed his body in the trunk of a car. And, later, that Hamad lashed out at organizers for trying to vindicate the kidnapping of Cross and the murder of Laporte.
Details of Laporte’s slaying were established at trial. Two of the terrorists, Paul Rose and Francis Simard, received life sentences for murder. A third, Bernard Lortie, was sentenced to 20 years for kidnapping, and a fourth, Jacques Rose, was convicted of being an accessory after the fact and sentenced to eight years.
Both Paul Rose, the murderous cell’s leader, and Simard got out in 1982. Lortie was freed in 1978, the same year Jacques Rose was released, to go on to receive a standing ovation at a Parti Quebecois convention in 1981.
I hope they do read the FLQ manifesto in public. It doesn’t pack much rhetorical punch. Not nearly as much, I would say, as words such as murdered, strangled, stuffed in trunk. As long as those blunt phrases are occasionally used, too.