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Documents in Quebec History


Last revised:
23 August 2000

Documents on the October Crisis

Letters from the Quebec Authorities requesting the Implementation of the War Measures Act (October 15-16, 1970)

A. Letter from Robert Bourassa, Premier of Quebec

Government of Quebec

The Prime Minister

Quebec City, October 16, 1970

Mr Prime Minister,

During the last few days the people of Quebec have been greatly shocked by the kidnapping of Mr. James R. Cross, representative of the British Government in Montreal, and the Hon. Pierre Laporte, Minister of Labour and Manpower and Minister of Immigration of Quebec, as well as by the threats to the security of the state and individuals expressed in communiqués issued by the Front de Liberation du Quebec or on its behalf, and finally by all the circumstances surrounding these events.

After consultation with authorities directly responsible for the administra tion of justice in Quebec, the Quebec Government is convinced that the law , as it stands now, is inadequate to meet this situation satisfactorily.

Under the circumstances, on behalf of the Government of Quebec, I request that emergency powers be provided as soon as possible so that more effective steps may be taken. I request particularly that such powers encompass the authority to apprehend and keep in custody individuals who, the Attorney General of Quebec has valid reasons to believe, are determined to overthrow the government through violence and illegal means. According to the information we have and which is available to you, we are facing a concerted effort to intimidate and overthrow the government and the democratic institutions of this province through planned and systematic illegal action, including insurrection. It is obvious that those participating in this concerted effort completely reject the principle of freedom under the rule of law.

The Quebec Government is convinced that such powers are necessary to meet the present emergency. Not only are two completely innocent men threatened with death, but we are also faced with an attempt by a minority to destroy social order through criminal action; it is for those reasons that our government is making the present request.

The government is confident that, through such powers, it will be able to put an immediate stop to intimidation and terror and to ensure peace and security for all citizens.

Please accept, Mr. Prime Minister, my very best regards.

Robert Bourassa.


B. Letter from Jean Drapeau, Mayor of Montreal, and Lucien Saulnier, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal.

City of Montreal, Canada
Office of the Chairman of
the Executive Committee,

October 15, 1970

Mr. Prime Minister,

The chief of the Montreal Police Service has informed us that the means available to him are proving inadequate and that the assistance of higher levels of government has become essential for the protection of society against the seditious plot and the apprehended insurrection in which the recent kidnappings were the first step.

We are forwarding as a matter of the utmost urgency the report describing the scope of the threat and the urgent need to reinforce the machinery to cope with it.

We ask for every measure of assistance the federal government may deem useful and desirable in order to carry out the task of protecting society and the lives of citizens in this difficult period.

Jean Drapeau,

Mayor of Montreal.

Lucien Saulnier,

Chairman of the Executive Committee.


C. Letter from M. St. Pierre, Director of the police of Montreal

October 15, 1970


An extremely dangerous subversive movement has progressively developed in Quebec in recent years with the objective of overthrowing the legitimate state by means of sedition and eventually armed insurrection.

The recent kidnappings of a foreign diplomat and a Crown minister of the province have signalled the launching by this movement of their seditious projects and acts leading directly to the insurrection and the overthrow of the state.

Under these circumstances, the investigation which the police authorities must undertake must necessarily delve into all aspects of the activities of the networks of this seditious movement, and should not be restricted to simply searching for the individuals who perpetrated the odious kidnapping of the two people who are still prisoners - for this would mean failure.

The threat served on society by this seditious conspiracy, which has moved into action in the past eleven days, the difficulties of investigating an organization split up into manifold tiny cells, each impervious to the others, and the unbelievable amount of checking and researching imposed on us have taxed, and continue to tax the resources our police force has at its disposal to their limit.


Considering how extremely urgent it is to achieve concrete results and unmask all the ramifications of this movement and its seditious activities, considering the volume and complexity of the proofs which must be collected and preserved, considering, finally, the enormity of the task we must accomplish, without moving into a repression which would be neither healthy nor desirable, the help of higher governments is essential to the completion of our job.

The slowness of procedures and the restraints imposed by the legal methods and mechanisms now at our disposal do not allow us at this time to cope with the situation.

Consequently, I recommend that the executive committee of the city, request that the higher governments give us all the means they think appropriate and useful, so as to allow us to collect and present the proofs needed to protect society from the seditious and insurrectional manoeuvres unleashed by the kidnappings.

Please accept, gentlemen, the expression of my most distinguished sentiments.

The Director,

M. St-Pierre

© 1999, Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College