The October Crisis occurred in October 1970 in the province of Quebec in Canada. Members of the Front de Libération du Quebec (FLQ) kidnapped the cabinet member Pierre Laporte and the British Trade Commissioner James Cross. The FLQ, a terrorist organization founded in the early 1960’s, was a paramilitary faction of the Quebec sovereignty movement that conducted over 160 violent attacks between 1963 and 1970. FLQ called for not only independence from Canada but for a socialist insurrection against ‘Anglo-Saxon imperialism the formation of a “worker’s society.”
On October 5, two members of the FLQ kidnapped Cross, leaving a list of demands, including the release of political prisoners, and the CBC broadcast of the FLQ Manifesto, with the authorities. On October 10, members of the FLQ kidnapped Laporte, the Minister of Labor.
On October 16, in response to this hostage situation, Premier Bourassa of Quebec formally requests that the government of Canada grant emergency powers allowing the suspension of habeas corpus. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the only peacetime use of the War Measures Act. This declaration suspended the civil liberties and personal freedoms of Canadian citizens until the crisis could be resolved. Through the War Measures Act, 397 civilians were arrested and detained without bail. The Quebec government also requested military aid to help maintain order.
On October 17, the FLQ announced that Pierre Laporte had been executed and that Cross would be held until all their demands are met but would be executed if the “fascist police” attempt to intervene. The FLQ demands were as follows: 1) The Publication of the FLQ manifesto. 2) The release of 23 political prisoners. 3) An airplane to take them to either Cuba or Algeria (both countries that they feel a strong connection to because of their struggle against colonialism and imperialism). 4) The re-hiring of the ‘gars de Lapalme’, more than 600 former employees of a private contractor who had delivered the mail in Montreal. 5) A “voluntary tax” of 500,000 dollars to be loaded aboard the plane prior to departure. 6) The name of the informer who had sold out the FLQ activists earlier in the year.
62 days after Cross is first taken, on December 4 he is released by the FLQ after negotiations. The five known kidnappers, Marc Carbonneau, Yves Langlois, Jacques Lanctôt, Jacques Cossette-Trudel and his wife, Louise Lanctôt, are granted safe passage to Cuba by the government of Canada after approval by Fidel Castro. The troops leave Quebec January 5, 1971.