FLQ and the ordinary man

The blades of the Moulin à paroles [Google translation] have been peacefully turning on the Plains of Abraham since 3 p.m. yesterday. The event pays tribute to people here and everywhere, who, by their words, their writing or their voices, have shaped this part of the world. It salutes the pride to exist still, despite the ice, the cold and the loneliness. It reasserts memory over oblivion.

Over 150 texts have been selected for their significance in the history of Québec and to the nation canadienne, texts such as:
Among these texts, one in particular caught media attention, the FLQ manifesto. French media reported the news with the whole spectrum of pros and cons whether the text should or shouldn't be included. English media on the other hand, generally leaned toward the cons, questioning the sovereigntists' acumen for associating with the manifesto. Perhaps, René Lévesque's reaction to the discovery of Pierre Laporte's body on October 18th, 1970, best illustrates this enduring sentiment: "If they really thought they had a cause, they killed it with Pierre Laporte and, by disgracing themselves in such a way, they more or less smeared us." "S'ils ont vraiment cru avoir une cause, ils l'ont tuée en même temps que Pierre Laporte et, en se déshonorant ainsi, ils nous ont tous plus ou moins éclaboussés."

I see the FLQ for what it was, young criminals who called for extraordinary measures. The majority of Québécois did as well on October 15th, 1970, when the Gouvernement du Québec formally requisitioned the intervention of the Canadian army in "aid of the civil power" under the National Defence Act. All three opposition parties, including the young Parti Québécois, rose in the National Assembly and agreed with the decision.

I can't say I was very familiar with the FLQ manifesto. I assume I was like the majority of Québécois and had only heard excerpts on television reports of the October Crisis. All I see in it is resentment. I gather it illustrates why some people see the sovereignty movement as fueling on anger and phantoms of the past. I'm sure some hardline sovereigntists still do, but that's not the message being conveyed by sovereigntist leaders in recent decades. They know all too well that a viable independent Québec would need a strong Canadian partner.

The Moulin à paroles [Google translation] is obviously an event in favor of sovereignty. But at the end of the day, regardless of your intent or your political bias, it's pretty hard to talk about significant moments in Québec's history without referring to the FLQ manifesto.


sassy said...

But at the end of the day, regardless of your intent or your political bias, it's pretty hard to talk about significant moments in Québec's history without referring to the FLQ manifesto.

I agree, it's part of the history of Quebec.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should read out the Al-Qaeda manifesto at an event celebrating the history of New York.

Michel Bolduc said...

The vast majority of Québécois, even if they don't agree with it, can understand the premise of the FLQ manifesto.

In contrast, the vast majority of North Americans don't have the background to understand Al-Qaeda's premise. Reading any Al-Qaeda related document in New-York would only be provocation.

For the record, the FLQ manifesto was read at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in September 2008 without a stir (although it wasn't publicized). It was part of "Manifeste!" by Wajdi Mouawad.

Anonymous said...

The manifesto was read in Ontario, yes, but Ontario does not have an active separatist movement fighting for the same goal as the FLQ (through democratic methods), nor extremist groups like Les Jeunes Patriotes present for the reading and who admire former terrorist organisations like the FLQ. So to compare the two provinces in this matter is comparing apples and oranges due to the context, and this is also the explanation for why this particular reading is seen so negatively. And really, this event has been purposely politicized by the organisers to begin with (and then by their detractors) since it was intended as a sovereingtist reaction to the planned re-enactment of the Plains of Abraham battle, which also separates the two events. This event is really not about history but about propaganda.


Anonymous said...

Propaganda because this is being used by the sovereigntists to propagate their official version of the history of Québec, a view which is not just relagated to the English national press:

Le moulin à propagande


Anonymous said...

"Dans son contenu, le manifeste ne dit rien que l'on ne retrouvait pas dans le fatras de textes gauchistes de l'époque. Il n'a été connu de la population que parce que ses auteurs ont enlevé un homme et menacé de le tuer si on ne diffusait pas leurs élucubrations révolutionnaires. On ne peut donc pas dissocier le texte de l'action terroriste. En lui accordant une place de choix dans une telle manifestation, on banalise les gestes violents qu'il servait à justifier."

Michel Bolduc said...

By pointing out the reading at NAC in Ottawa, I was simply illustrating that the manifesto can be read for its "testimonial value" of the times without being hijacked to justify violent actions, as intended by Mr. Mouawad and in contrast to Mr. Pratte's point of view. This being said, it's obviously disconcerting that some people still resonate to the manifesto, but in all seriousness, it would have been ridiculous to hide it even with the event's obvious bias and the predictable reception by fringe groups. It also should be noted that sovereigntists don't have monopoly over propaganda.

La Presse's Yves Boisvert has a more interesting and level-headed take on the subject than Mr. Pratte.