The motion calling for a formal apology from the Prime Minister for resorting to the War Measures Act during the October Crisis was rejected by House of Commons elected officials by 263 to 56 votes on November 2.
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Elected officials of the Green Party and the majority of New Democrats voted in favor of the motion that divided MPs Thursday in plenary. The Bloc Québécois had used its opposition day in the Commons to revive the debates. Several elected officials believe that the law was promulgated at the request of Quebec, which is also responsible for police operations.
Bloc leader Yves-François Banchet wanted “the House to demand an official apology from the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Canada for the promulgation, on October 16, 1970, of the War Measures and Use of the Army Act. against the civilian population of Quebec in order to arbitrarily arrest, incarcerate without charge and intimidate ”nearly 500 Quebec citizens.
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During the debates, the Bloc called on this government “which proclaims itself against violence and extremism throughout the world” to “show compassion” towards the victims and their families.
“It was unacceptable 50 years ago and it still is today,” pleaded Mr. Blanchet, before elected officials for the most part not committed to the cause.
The Bloc Québécois outvoted
Liberals and Conservatives have objected to the memory of the Front de liberation du Québec (FLQ) kidnapping former Deputy Premier of Quebec Pierre Laporte. Along with other victims, he died in murky conditions at the hands of the FLQ. The Bloc leader was also reminded that the War Measures Act had been enacted at the request of the then premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa.
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“It is Quebec which has recognized its responsibility by giving compensation to the victims … It is the Sûreté du Québec which carried out the police operations”, supported the Conservative MP Gérard Deltell, radically opposed to the motion.
For the Liberals, the Bloc presented “a truncated vision of history” in a context where responsibilities were shared by all levels of government.
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Despite the relatively cold relationship between the Bloc and the New Democrats, the NDP supported Yves-François Blanchet’s motion. He argued for the possibility that the government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau had at that time to reject Quebec’s request in the name of fundamental freedoms.
The Prime Minister was not on the vote. Justin Trudeau had already indicated last week that the Bloc did not speak for all Quebeckers. He had previously explained that he preferred to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and the future, rather than being interested in “the political debates on what happened 50 years ago”.
Text by Godlove Kamwa, Local Journalism Initiative, Le Canada Français