Terrorism

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The Challenge of Modernizing Islam

The Challenge of Modernizing Islam

Reformers Speak Out and the Obstacles They Face
edition:Paperback
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Detained

Detained

Islamic Fundamentalist Extremism and the War on Terror in Canada
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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The Making of the October Crisis

The Making of the October Crisis

Canada's Long Nightmare of Terrorism at the Hands of the FLQ
edition:Hardcover
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Prologue

There had been over two hundred bombings, dozens of bank robberies, six deaths and two kidnappings, all committed in the name of the Front de libération du Québec, all in the space of seven and a half years, and then this—one of the hostages brutally murdered at the hands of his abductors. The other victims of FLQ terrorism had been ordinary citizens—a night watchman, the vice-president of one of Canada’s largest firearms stores, one of the employees, a secretary, an Ottawa grandmother who worked for the Department of National Defence and a sixteen-year-old youth who had died when the bomb he was planting exploded in his hands.

The latest casualty—Pierre Laporte—was strangled. He was forty-nine years old and a prominent Quebecker. He had been the legislative correspondent for the Montreal daily Le Devoir—the newspaper of choice for Quebec’s political, cultural and intellectual elite. He had also been a member of two provincial Liberal governments and a cabinet minister in both. He was well liked by his constituents and respected by his colleagues, one of whom described him as “the best parliamentarian in the National Assembly.”

Laporte was murdered on a Saturday evening, amid the October Crisis of 1970, and the services held to honour him reflected his stature. From midday Sunday until midday Tuesday, his body lay in state in an open casket in the grand, marble-walled lobby of the Palais de justice courthouse on Notre-Dame Street in Old Montreal. The flag of Quebec was draped over the casket and four members of the Sûreté du Québec—the provincial police force—stood guard. 

Pierre Trudeau and Robert Bourassa were among the first dignitaries to pay their respects. They walked the short distance from City Hall flanked by machine gun–wielding soldiers, mounted the broad stone steps of the Palais de justice, stepped past the twenty-foot-high burnished-brass doors and stood before the casket for a few moments with heads bowed.

Thousands upon thousands of ordinary citizens waited their turn in unseasonably chilly autumn weather and in streets thick with soldiers dressed and armed for combat. The lineups stretched for blocks, and when their moment came, men, women and children swept silently past the casket and through the lobby and back to the street.

Premier Bourassa offered a state funeral in Old Montreal’s ornate and magnificent Notre-Dame Basilica, but Madame Laporte insisted on a simple requiem celebrated without organ or choir or dirge, and open only to family and friends and her late husband’s peers from the realm of politics. Parishes across Montreal and throughout Quebec held commemorative masses, similar services were held in Ottawa and Toronto, and all Quebec government offices were closed on the afternoon of the funeral.

It was set to begin at 4 p.m., but long before that the authorities had taken every precaution to ensure the safety of those attending, and that included the prime minister, most of his Cabinet and at least one hundred MPs from all parties, the premier of Quebec and every member of the National Assembly, Montreal’s mayor and city councillors, and municipal politicians from the Montreal area.

The streets for several blocks around the basilica were barricaded. Soldiers armed with rifles—and bayonets attached to the barrels—kept motorists out. Army snipers were posted on rooftops. Troops manned a machine-gun nest between the two massive towers that soared above the front doors of the basilica. Police had earlier searched every inch of the interior. Barricades had been erected around Place d’Armes—the square in front of Notre-Dame—and they held back onlookers six to seven deep.

The dignitaries arrived in limousines, aboard school buses and on foot. Once everyone was seated inside the basilica, three police officers on motorcycles slowly made their way through the onlookers, followed by the hearse bearing Mr. Laporte’s body. “The hush that fell over the crowd was so absolute that a policeman’s footsteps echoed loudly across the square,” one journalist noted, and others reported that an air of silence fell over much of the city as the service was about to begin.

It lasted forty-five minutes. Maurice Cardinal Roy of Quebec City presided and was assisted by Archbishop Paul Grégoire of Montreal and two parish priests. Afterward, pallbearers carried the casket to the hearse, followed by Madame Laporte, whose face was covered by a thick veil, and her two children, twenty-year-old Claire and ten-year-old Jean.

The family had barred reporters and photographers from attending, but one worshipper told a journalist, “I’ve never known anything like it. There was this enormous church and not a sound. Not a whisper. People didn’t talk to each other, rarely shook hands and kept their eyes on the floor. I suppose there was nothing to say. We were stunned.”

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Les Cahiers du journalisme

Les Cahiers du journalisme

Volume 2, numéro 1
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Paperback
tagged : terrorism
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Excerpt

« la revue, quoique rétive aux dogmes, ne se prétend pas détachée de quelques convictions fondamentales. La première est que la société a plus que jamais besoin du journalisme. La seconde est que le journalisme a plus que jamais besoin de réflexions et de recherches. La troisième est que celles-ci nécessitent plus que jamais un débat exigeant, mais dynamique et ouvert.»

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