AngryFrenchGuy

The FLQ Manifesto, Whiggers and English Canada’s Jungle Fever

with 192 comments

22n.riot1

On the 29th of January 1969, 10 months 22 months before the kidnapping of James Cross and Pierre Laporte by the Front de Libération du Québec and the beginning of the October crisis, about 200 black and white students of Sir George William university—now Concordia University—occupied the computer room to protest racism and discrimination. Things got ugly, fire broke out and the university called in the riot squad to arrest the students while a crowd of white students stood by, chanting « Burn, Nigger, Burn ».

Canada briefly became the symbol of racism and imperialism across the black world, writes Sean William Mills of Queen’s University in The Empire Within, as « protests against symbols of Canadian power erupted throughout the Caribbean. In the aftermath of the event, students at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados mounted a “symbolic burial of (…) the racist institution of Sir George Williams University,” and the visit of Canadian Governor General Daniel Roland Michener to the West Indies on a ‘good-will’ tour set off a series of mass protests, contributing to a revolutionary moment that nearly toppled the government of Trinidad. »

That was Montreal in it’s “glory days”, you know, before the separatists showed up…

Earlier this week newspapers across Canada offered unsolicited advice of the controversy surrounding the proposed reading of the Front de Libération du Québec’s manifesto on the Plains of Abraham as part of a commemoration of the 1759 battle that, according to a Globe and Mail writer “marks the birth of the great Canadian spirit of cultural accommodation.”

Some, like the Calgary Herald, argued against “celebrating and glorifying the racist text.”  Most, however, thought the manifesto should be read in the name of memory and History.  It is a reminder of the dark side of Québec nationalism, editorialized the Edmonton Journal: « The document is as ancient, paranoid and creepy as a lunatic pamphlet promoting sterilization or racial cleansing ».   The National Post also agreed the Manifesto should be read, as long as it was « delivered with all the savage, sneering, race-supremacist spirit in which it was written. »

The National Post editorial board saw a black québécois, Luck Mervil, who announced he was going to read the manifesto of a 1970’s radical gang that trained in Jordan with the PLO, idealized Algerian revolutionaries, worshiped the Black Panthers, kidnapped a couple of white guys–a Brit and a French-Canadian–before fleeing to exile in Cuba, and with their deep and subtle understanding of History discerned a “race-supremacist spirit »?!?

People sometime do that. When they don’t like an event or memory in their personal past they ctrl-x it out and ctrl-v another story in its place.

The way in which English-Canada has been mapping the events of the Civil Rights movement and the violence that shook the deep american south onto the October Crisis is transparent. English Canadians are cast as the good guys, progressive and modern JFK-type northerners. French Canadians play the role of the fundamentally good yet slightly retarded southern whites in need of stern moral guidance.  English Montrealers become the powerless black folk and the FLQ is completely reinvented as a hate-filled rear-guard militia of inbred bigots known in other parts as the KKK. In that story the Canadian army was sent into the streets of Montreal to prevent a race war and restore harmonious multicultural peace.

Hey, Canadians aren’t the only ones who are trying to live out someone else’s history. The white private school guerrilleros of the FLQ had deeply immersed themselves in the writings of Malcom X, Aimé Césaire and Black Liberation. They had come to see and describe themselves as the « Blacks of Canada » and the « White Niggers of America ». Whiggers with dynamite.

Québec and Black Nationalists actually did bang together on some occasions, like that time in 1962, reported in Time magazine, when a “frowsy, 6-ft. blonde named Michelle Duclos, 26, (…) a frequent visitor to New York for dates with African representatives to the U.N.” was arrested for transporting dynamite over the border for “the Black Liberation Front, a hot-eyed batch of pro-Castro New York Negroes.”  Randy negros and promiscuous French girls:  Protestant America’s nightmare.

But at the end of the day the fact is there were black people in Montreal in 1970 and they weren’t down with the FLQ any more than they were the FLQ’s target. They had their own struggle.

Remembering History is great. Remembering what really happened is even better.

And what actually happened is that when the anti-racism Sir George William University demonstrators were tried for civil disobedience and destroying 2 million dollars worth of computers, their attorney was Robert Lemieux

…the FLQ’s lawyer.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm

192 Responses

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  1. Remembering History is great. Remembering what really happened is even better.

    So true.

    sassy

    September 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm

  2. > On the 29th of January 1969, 10 months before the kidnapping of James
    > Cross and Pierre Laporte by the Front de Libération du Québec

    You probably mean “22 months”. The October crisis was in 1970.

    Marc

    September 13, 2009 at 3:22 pm

  3. Maybe that National Post editorial should have been read at the Moulin à paroles?

    Nah. To get that sort of attention, the editorial board of the National Post would have had to kidnap and kill a cabinet minister of a democratically-elected government of Quebec.

    anonyme

    September 13, 2009 at 3:36 pm

  4. Robert, peu de gens le savent, aurait pourtant eu, s’il l’avait voulu, une carrière professionnelle remplie d’honneur, de gloire et d’argent, s’il avait accepté de poursuivre celle-ci dans le confort et l’indifférence.

    Sorti de la Faculté de droit de McGill, parfait bilingue par sa mère, une courageuse, belle et intelligente irlandaise mariée à Raymond Lemieux, son père, un homme agréable et bien élevé, Robert, marié et père de 2 enfants, faisait partie d’une prestigieuse étude légale anglophone de Montréal, dont l’associé principal et son patron immédiat était rien de moins que l’avocat de la compagnie Canadien Pacifique, d’un océan à l’autre.

    Mais un autre destin l’attendait. Robert accepte, un jour, de défendre, avec un mandat d’aide juridique, un jeune homme accusé d’être relié aux activités du FLQ. Ce geste devait changer sa vie à tout jamais, contaminer sa vie familiale et le plonger dans la tourmente et l’adversité.

    Mis à la porte promptement par ses patrons anglophones qui jamais n’auraient accepté un tel outrage, il se retrouve seul dans son petit bureau à pratiquer le droit civil pour joindre les 2 bouts tout en commençant une carrière de criminaliste qui fera de lui, quelques années plus tard, l’avocat le plus connu et médiatisé du Québec.

    Nos vies se rejoignent lorsque, en octobre 1970, un tsunami politique déferle sur le Québec. Un diplomate anglais, James Cross, est enlevé par la cellule Libération du FLQ, Sans hésiter une seule seconde, je quitte, moi aussi, l’étude légale où je commence une carrière de criminaliste et je rejoins Robert à l’Hôtel Nelson, dans le Vieux Montréal, où il est l’intermédiaire entre le FLQ et les autorités gouvernementales.

    J’admire le courage de cet homme. J’admire son talent de communicateur. J’admire la façon dont il défend ses clients. Il négocie, il explique, il remplit son mandat avec dignité, abnégation et obstination. Il les protège contre l’inévitable et terrible riposte des plus forts. C’est cela un avocat de la défense. Défendre, défendre et défendre. Même ce qui apparaît souvent aux yeux de certains comme indéfendable.

    J’entre moi aussi dans la tourmente. Je vais à Ottawa négocier une terre d’accueil possible pour les membres de la cellule Libération, avec le chargé d’affaires algérien. Plusieurs années plus tard, je réalise que j’ai été vraisemblablement victime d’une ruse et d’une mise en scène du Service de sécurité de la GRC.

    Dans la même semaine, Robert et moi nous nous rendons à une conférence de presse donnée par le ministre de la Justice, Jérôme Choquette, dans les studios de Radio-Canada, alors situé dans l’ouest de Montréal, sur la rue Guy. Robert s’impose et interpelle le ministre abasourdi. En sortant de l’édifice, nous apprenons par la radio l’enlèvement de Pierre Laporte. Nous n’avons aucune idée de l’identité des ravisseurs. Les policiers, eux, le savent déjà.

    Après l’imposition de la Loi sur les mesures de guerre, nous goûtons à la médecine de Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Robert est arrêté en pleine nuit et emprisonné à Parthenais, avec Michel Chartand, Pierre Vallières, Charles Gagnon et Jacques Larue-Langlois. Plus de 500 arrestations et 5 000 perquisitions, dans toutes les régions du Québec.

    http://www.vigile.net/Un-homme-de-coeur-et-de-courage

    James

    September 13, 2009 at 4:12 pm

  5. Why do you think that the term ‘racist’ refers to skin colour? When I read the FLQ manifesto, it seems pretty clear that the FLQ’s definition of Québécois is not “whoever wants to be one”.

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 4:13 pm

  6. Are you implying that the FLQ being racist (perhaps discriminatory is a better word) means that the Québécois are?

    Pure Laine

    September 13, 2009 at 4:47 pm

  7. Here is the manifesto:

    http://pages.infinit.net/histoire/manifst_flq.html

    Where is it clear that the definition of a Québécois “is not whoever wants to be one”? Please locate the passage(s) in question.

    Here’s a passage from Parizeau’s Pour un Québec souverain, which affirms precisely that appartenance to the Québécois people is a matter of self-idenfication:

    Alors qu’en est-il du peuple québécois ? Il est constitué essentiel-lement de francophones (quelle que soit leur origine) qui partagent une culture qui leur est propre. Des minorités s’y ajoutent et ont indis-cutablement enrichi la culture québécoise. A part les autochtones qui forment des nations distinctes, Canadiens anglais de souche ou immi-grants de diverses dates, s’ils cherchent, dans leur presque totalité, à demeurer canadiens, une fois la souveraineté réalisée, ils devraient s’intégrer, et à leur rythme, au peuple québécois. En tout cas, on le souhaite. Est québécois qui veut l’être.

    Click to access pour_un_quebec_souverain.pdf

    The sovereignist movement has been saying this from the beginning.

    James

    September 13, 2009 at 5:04 pm

  8. No. But hey, nice try.

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm

  9. Someone forgot to send the FLQ the memo, then.

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm

  10. The Globe and Mail editorial you linked to is hilarious. It states that Wolfe’s “kindness” towards “Quebec’s unique cultural character and population” was extended to the Royal Proclamation of 1763. However, I mentioned in the comments section of that article that the Royal Proclamation of 1763 explicitly called for the assimilation of the New France colonists.

    I expected better from the Globe and Mail which is considered as English Canada’s best newspaper.

    Antonio

    September 13, 2009 at 5:39 pm

  11. “Please locate the passage(s) in question.”

    Every reference to anglophones is perjorative.

    Every.
    Single.
    One.

    I defy you to find *anything* in there that is consistent with “Est québécois qui veut l’être.”

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 5:48 pm

  12. Yes, but the FLQ spoke for itself.

    Pure Laine

    September 13, 2009 at 5:56 pm

  13. I repeat the question, where specifically are the passage/s where ‘it seems pretty clear that the FLQ’s definition of Québécois is not “whoever wants to be one”‘?

    Please
    Give
    Even
    Just
    One
    Fucking
    Example
    Osti

    James

    September 13, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  14. “Every reference to anglophones is perjorative.”

    True but each of these references to anglophones was qualified by an economical term: CAPITALISTES anglo-saxons, anglo-saxons DU COMMONWEALTH, BOSS anglophones.

    These references show, among other terms, that the mainifesto was an extreme-left rant against capitalism which were controlled mostly by the anglophones at the time, not against anglophones in general. Hence, it does not necessarily mean that the FLQ excluded ANY anglophone from consideration of being a Quebecer. After all, Paul Rose was a member of the FLQ and has an English name.

    Antonio

    September 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm

  15. I expected exactly as much from the Globe and Mail (employer of Jan Wong and Lawrence Martin) which actually describes itself as “Canada’s National Newspaper” and proves with this pseudo-history that that’s exactly what it is.

    James

    September 13, 2009 at 6:26 pm

  16. “le Front de libération du Québec ne se laissera jamais distraire par les miettes électorales que les capitalistes anglo-saxons lancent dans la basse-cour québécoise à tous les quatre ans”

    “Nous en avons soupé du fédéralisme canadien qui pénalise les producteurs laitiers du Québec pour satisfaire aux besoins anglo-saxons du Commonwealth”

    Not to mention the various expressions that are rendered in English, presumably because the offending group are anglos:

    « big boss »
    « money-makers »

    Now go ahead and explain to me how the FLQ believed that “Est québécois qui veut l’être.”

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

  17. Is there any reason at all to think that the FLQ thought that “Est québécois qui veut l’être.”? Because all we have from the manifesto is English=Capitalist=Enemy.

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 6:36 pm

  18. The FLQ identified the anglo-dominated business class as an enemy of Québec’s national liberation struggle. This was very self-evidently true, and there isn’t any serious historian or sociologist treating this period who would contest that English Canadians completely dominated the business élite in the province, that English dominated as the language of public life and commmerce and social advancement despite it being minority language and that this was a legacy of colonial conquest. That anglophones in Québec were in effect a “demographic minority” enjoying the status of a “sociological majority.” This was patently the case and this is what the FLQ was saying. French Canadians occupied the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid in a society where they were the majority. Their educational status was inferior to that of African-Americans in the same era. By all means try to refute this.

    Any unjustly dominated group has the right to and does identify who is exercising this domination over them. African-Americans did this during the Civil Rights Era and still do. It doesn’t infer that they think whites aren’t “Americans too” and whites have been welcomed into the Civil Rights movement. Anglo-Protestants were welcomed into the Irish national movement. But the Irish had the right and responsibility to identify who was dominating them and did so. Québec anglophones have been welcomed into the Québec sovereignist movement. So the whole issue you raise is a canard and your “quote” is a “pétard mouillé” to your hypothesis.

    A more relevant question might be how many anglophone Quebeckers identify *themselves* as Québécois. I suspect a lot fewer than hacks like Don MacPherson like to let on, but then they love to take umbrage when they can make it sound like someone else thinks they aren’t either.

    James

    September 13, 2009 at 6:57 pm

  19. “A more relevant question might be how many anglophone Quebeckers identify *themselves* as Québécois.”

    Oh, great. A purity test. How does one pass this exam?

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 7:02 pm

  20. “Is there any reason at all to think that the FLQ thought that “Est québécois qui veut l’être.”? Because all we have from the manifesto is English=Capitalist=Enemy.”

    Huh?

    As I have explained, the manifesto reads more like Capitalist=Enemy. It does not read like a condemnation of anglophones in general. Otherwise, if you still think that way, then explain to me why Paul Rose was a member of the FLQ if the FLQ did not consider him a Quebecer.

    Antonio

    September 13, 2009 at 7:08 pm

  21. Paul Rose was an anglo?!?!?

    And if it was just Capitalist=Enemy, why add the ‘anglo-saxon’ qualifier if not to paint capitalists and even blacker brush?

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 7:17 pm

  22. Paul Rose was an anglo?!?!?

    And if it was just Capitalist=Enemy, why add the ‘anglo-saxon’ qualifier if not to paint capitalists with an even blacker brush?

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 7:18 pm

  23. Stephen,

    If you read the manifesto carefully, you’ll see the names of the few luminaries of Québec’s pure laine establishment, as it was in the late sixties: The Simard family, the great financier J.L. Lévesque, Paul Desmarais and Power Corp…

    Of course, it may sound ridiculous to us, in this mindless era of freshwater economics orthodoxy, but back then the class struggle and decolonization dialectic was in full swing in the Western world. Remember Baaden-Meinhof, Action directe or the Red Brigade?

    Don’t take it so personally. The FLQ were an equal opportunity offender with regards to the bourgeoisie, both English and French. As was the case in Africa during that period, the national struggle was a tool to an end: the establishment of a “workers’ state”.

    ClaudeB

    September 13, 2009 at 7:22 pm

  24. Oh, great. A purity test.

    Oh great, another canard.

    I said it would be interesting to know how many of them consider themselves Québécois, since their rag the Gazette is always insinutating that the francophones don’t think they are. So how many do Professor? Any idea?

    Maybe you should ask Prime Minister Harper too, since his party, after voting down a Bloc motion recognizing Québec as a nation occupying the territory of Québec, drafted a counter-motion which ethnicized the definition in English to suggest only franco-Quebeckers formed one. Who’s excluding whom?

    James

    September 13, 2009 at 7:22 pm

  25. How about: all of us. We all choose to live here.

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 7:24 pm

  26. “Paul Rose was an anglo?!?!?”

    You can’t figure it out from his name?

    “And if it was just Capitalist=Enemy, why add the ‘anglo-saxon’ qualifier if not to paint capitalists with an even blacker brush?2

    Because as James pointed out, the capitalists at the time that the FLQ hated were anglophones. Can you find anything in the document that shows that the FLQ condemns ALL anglophones in the same brush and not just anglophone capitalists who largely controlled the finances of Quebec at the time?

    Antonio

    September 13, 2009 at 7:27 pm

  27. Of course, the problem is that just because anglo-Quebecers consider themselves Québécois, that doesn’t mean that francophones do as well.

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 7:30 pm

  28. James, do you think I am a Québécois?

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm

  29. Paul Rose is an English name?

    Your other point would be more convincing if the FLQ had made it. As it is, you’re asking me to give them the benefit of the doubt, and there’s no earthly reason to believe that they deserve it.

    Stephen Gordon

    September 13, 2009 at 7:41 pm

  30. For one good reason: who was barking his orders to the working stiffs in the shops of Montreal back then? An anglo foreman.

    Think Northern Ireland during the troubles. Same exploitation system: replace the French-Canadian worker in Montreal by an Irish catholic lad one in Belfast.

    As for the French-canadian business elite, they were relentlessly tossed with the “blokes”. See references to the Simard family, J. L. Lévesque, Desmarais in the manifesto.

    ClaudeB

    September 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm


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