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Political Science General

The October Crisis, 1970

An Insider's View

by (author) William Tetley

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2010
General, Civil Rights, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2010
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2006
    List Price

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In October 1970, Robert Bourassa's provincial government refused to exchange political hostages for twenty-three FLQ terrorists. By the evening of 15 October, 3,000 outraged Quebecers appeared poised to riot. Fearing insurrection, the federal government implemented the War Measures Act and jailed 497 people. Most Canadian historians cite this event as an unjustified assault on civil rights and political liberty - The October Crisis, 1970 challenges this assumption. William Tetley, then a minister in Bourassa's cabinet, breaks the government's silence about the event and, with meticulous reference to now available documentation and passages from his own 1970 diary, reveals details of the government's decision-making process. He also points out facts that most historical interpretations gloss over: for instance, all but sixty of those apprehended were soon released, not a window was broken, and the calm that descended on Quebec and Canada has lasted for four decades.

About the author

William Tetley, now professor of international law, McGill University, was serving as a minister in Robert Bourassa’s cabinet when the October Crisis broke out.

William Tetley's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Tetley addresses important questions, corrects widely believed factual errors, and successfully deconstructs events from a side of the conflict seldom written about by popular historians." Canada's History

"...[an] enlightening and bracing look back at Canada's terrorist crisis...nearly 40 years ago." The Gazette

"William Tetley has written a valuable account of this bizarre chapter in our history. He has drawn on new documentary sources, journalistic reports, and his own political conversations and diaries. Tetley's is the most complete record we have of this turbulent period, and it is meticulously researched, artfully written, and thoroughly polemical." University of Toronto Quarterly

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