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

with 192 comments


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. Gordon:

    “Pierre Vallière, although stating that Anglo-Quebeckers were “our ‘Rhodesians,’” took the time to point out that he was talking about the English-speaking bourgeoisie, “and not about the tens of thousands of anglicized immigrants who are exploited in the same manner as French-Canadian workers.” -The Empire Within

    The FLQ stood “beside all immigrant workers in Quebec and it is with them that we want to oppose our collective enemy: Anglo-American capitalism. We want to struggle with all workers to achievenational liberation.” FLQ *JUNE* 1970 Manifesto

    There’s plenty of racists in Québec’s past and present to choose from: Lionel Groulx tried out the style, the great fascist and federalist Adrien Arcand, many militants of the Québec Conservative/ADQ movement that is so popular in your dear Québec City…

    Why the hell do you need to project racism on those Québécois who have and are and will continue fighting against racism? How will you world view suffer by admiting all Québécois are not racists and some English Canadians are?


    September 14, 2009 at 11:05 am

  2. Sure. Whatever. Well, one thing you won’t be able to say is that I didn’t warn you. Guess we’ll see at the next referendum where the irascibility of people like you leads us all…

    A few other comments:

    “Francophones as a linguistic group get the same thing from me as *any other* linguistic group – indifference.”

    Ah yes. It’s very obvious by how you view anglophones and francophones the exact same way. It’s particularly telling how you are so very equally critical of both groups’ shortcomings.

    “Are you a preschool teacher by profession? You seem to have these tendencies of talking to people like they’re 5 year olds.”

    I am actually more what one could call a PR flack. I talk to members of the media a lot during the course of the day. Whether or not there are parallels between that and preschool teaching I leave up to you to judge.


    September 14, 2009 at 11:57 am

  3. Acajack:
    > I talk to members of the media a lot during the course of the day. Whether
    > or not there are parallels between that and preschool teaching I leave
    > up to you to judge.

    This made me chuckle. Sorry for the interruption, carry on.


    September 14, 2009 at 12:15 pm

  4. Anglophones get indifference too. What do I care? Actually, the older ones that still have that British Empire superiority complex and think they’re god’s gift to earth really tick me off.

    2 things, though:

    1. Their language is universal. And given its simplicity, I’m glad that it is. Or maybe it was its simplicity that made it evolve into lingua franca. I don’t know. So I am in favor of keeping it as the language that connects us.

    2. Canada, with all its faults, is my second country. It is as important to me as my country of origin. I am 100% in favor of reforming it, improving it, changing it. But I’m not too keen on the idea of dismantling it.


    September 14, 2009 at 12:59 pm

  5. Their language is universal. And given its simplicity,

    The Voice of Science weighs in.


    September 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm

  6. (que la chasse aux nazis commence!)

    Harper says there is no fixed definition of the ’Quebecois’ nation
    Presse canadienne
    mercredi 20 décembre 2006


    par Isabelle Rodrigue and Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

    OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have recognized the existence of the `Quebecois nation’ but don’t ask him to define it.

    He says there is no exact definition.

    In an interview with The Canadian Press, Harper resisted several attempts to get him to explain who exactly belongs to the `Quebecois nation’.

    “I think you identify yourself. It’s an identity, not a legal definition,” he said.

    “Being a Canadian carries a legal definition – you’re a citizen or you’re not.

    “But the idea of a Quebec nation is strictly a matter of identity and you can’t define it for everyone.”

    He said the concept implies ties to the French language and the territory of Quebec.

    “Obviously this idea is linked to the French language. For that reason, if you’re speaking of a Quebecois nation you’re speaking of French,” he said.

    “You’re speaking of the Quebecois, not Quebecers.”


    He was asked : does that mean anglophone Quebecers aren’t part of the Quebecois nation ?

    “I think some anglophones and some ethnic groups identify with the Quebecois nation. Maybe some don’t,” he said.

    “I don’t think it’s possible to put precise terms to it.”

    If the main criterion is an attachment to the French language, then does that mean all French-Canadians – even those outside Quebec – belong to the Quebecois nation ?

    “I’m not sure,” Harper said, speaking in French.


    “As I said, I think it’s an identity. Those who share that identity belong to that identity. Those who don’t share it aren’t part of it.”


    September 14, 2009 at 1:30 pm

  7. Allophone: “2. Canada, with all its faults, is my second country. It is as important to me as my country of origin. I am 100% in favor of reforming it, improving it, changing it. But I’m not too keen on the idea of dismantling it.”

    Well, Canada is actually my first country. My ancestors have been here for 400 years building it, speaking French during the entire time.

    That doesn’t mean that I have more rights than a naturalized citizen born elsewhere, but I’ll be damned if anyone is going to me make me and my family feel like second-class citizens and newcomers to our own land just because of the language we speak.


    September 14, 2009 at 1:33 pm

  8. Allophone,

    Which is this first country to which you claim being as important as your second? Just curious . . .


    September 14, 2009 at 3:13 pm

  9. “Yes. After all, it is democracy. Something you don’t really practice.”

    I suppose you will also insist on a clear majority in answer to a clear question, or would that be asking too much ?


    September 14, 2009 at 3:31 pm

  10. He has consitently avoided saying.

    My guess is he is aware many Québécois and Canadians on this forum will know more about that country’s history and language than he does…


    September 14, 2009 at 3:31 pm

  11. Allochou

    Try to get your facts straight more often and you will be invited to sit at the grown up’s table.

    You got the percentage of Francos who voted NO in 1995 correct. That’s good. Keep up the good work.


    September 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm

  12. I am glad to see a debate, really, because at least there is communication between opposite sides. I hope you people can all get together for a beer and get along like civil human beings. As for me, I moved from Montreal and don’t have to deal with this crap. You might say to yourself that you’re glad I’m gone. The truth of the matter is, where I live now, it is peaceful and there is a solid future, no worrying about angry pissed off people who hold a grudge everyday of their lives and want to rip the very fabric of Quebec society apart, again…

    abc man

    September 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm

  13. “but I’ll be damned if anyone is going to me make me and my family feel like second-class citizens and newcomers to our own land just because of the language we speak”

    Does that happen regularily!! What makes you feel like a second class citizen?


    September 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm

  14. Gordon said:

    “Every reference to anglophones is perjorative.” and English=Capitalism=Enemy


    In 1965, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism published a preliminary report on economic inequalities in Québec. Some findings:

    -83% of administrators and executives in Québec were anglophones;
    -francophones earned in average 35% less than anglos;
    -francophones came in 12th in revenue in the province, with only Italians and Natives earning less (Take a wild guess who came in first?);
    -even with results normalized for education, francos earned less than all other linguistic groups;
    -unilingual anglos earned more than bilingual anglos and francos;
    -even assimilited francos earned less than anglos.
    -In the last 30 years (leading to 1965) inequality had only increased.

    Now, please, for the love of the Queen, explain to me how a reasonable person was not going to come to the conclusion that Anglos were not playing fair?

    Then you can go on some African and South Asian blogs and whine about how the writings of Ngugi wa Thiongo, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi are “racist” because they blamed anglo-american capital for the injustices in their countries.

    « We live in a society of terrorized slaves, terrorized by the big bosses, Steinberg, Clark, Bronfman, Smith, Neopole, Timmins, Geoffrion, J.L. Lévesque, Hershorn, Thompson, Nesbitt, Desmarais, Kierans (next to these, Rémi Popol the Nightstick, Drapeau the Dog, Bourassa the Simards’ Simple Simon and Trudeau the Pansy are peanuts!). » FLQ Manifesto

    If anything, by very carefully blaming the exploitation of Québec workers on an equal number of French and English bad guys, only a couple of years after it was academically demonstrated that 83% of the “big bosses” were anglos smacks of typical left-wing political correctnes!!

    You are mapping the language of one era–the FLQ in 1970– on another era–today’s (still unequal yet much improved) relationship between anglos and francos–, just like many Canadian map the history of one place–the USA–onto another place: Canada.

    That was the whole point of my post. You didn’t get it. At all.


    September 14, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  15. Wow, I never expected AFG would be such an apologist for the FLQ. I would’ve expected maybe a “few bad apples shouldn’t spoil teh bunch” type of argument.


    September 14, 2009 at 5:07 pm

  16. Great post, Rory. Way to go; when you don’t have any argument to shoot back, just insult the poster without offering any substance.

    You really proved your bias there.

    Jehan Neymard

    September 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

  17. Where did I insult anyone, mr. Substance?


    September 14, 2009 at 5:30 pm

  18. Oh yeah, sorry… I forgot the Party line again… [Ehem!]: Democracy, democracy, non-violence, equality, unity, free market, universal and simple English…

    Yep. The FLQ were dangerous lunatics for kidnapping a cabinet minister proven to have many links with organised crime.

    The Canadian governement, however, who are keeping Omar Khadr in illegal confinement for the crime of defending his home and family from a foreign invading army when he was 15 years old, those are true virile men…

    I ain’t trying to make up excuses for the FLQ. In the 1970’s, when factory owners routinely hired mercenary thugs to “negociate” with workers, I understand that some came to the conclusion that you should answer violence with violence. As 1000’s of other did in the USA (Panthers, Weathermen) and Europe (Red Brigades, IRA).

    It didn’t do much good. The Parti Québécois accomplished much more through non-violent means, so did the ANC. The PLO had it’s better years when they used rocks instead of guns.

    Now we know.


    September 14, 2009 at 5:43 pm

  19. The FLQ were dangerous lunatics for kidnapping a cabinet minister proven to have many links with organised crime.

    reminds me of when I was living in the Basse-Ville-de-Québec and a friend asked if I knew why the Laporte Bridge is called the “10 percent Bridge”.

    I know, I know, the guy’s dead, a little respect svp, etc etc. But it was a great story.


    September 14, 2009 at 6:13 pm

  20. “The FLQ were dangerous lunatics for kidnapping a cabinet minister proven to have many links with organised crime.”

    Dangerous lunatics? Well they did try to equate themselves, a people already in the process of becoming Maitres Chez Eux to the descendants of slaves who’s sceond-class citezenship cards weren’t likely to be revoked any time soon. So, delusional paranoia may be more apt than lunatic.

    As for dangerous, well the hundred or so bombs they set off in the 8 or 9 years before a francophone named Pierre laporte was killed didn’t release nerf balls on detonation. I believe only one other person was killed (some bloke security guard who probably didn’t have any mob ties) Just because they sucked at terrorism though, doesn’t mean they weren’t terrorists.

    And I never said there was anything wrong with sympathising with the FLQ, just that I didn’t expect it from you. After having read your analogy comparing Montreal anglos to Hamas, I had you pegged for more of a law and order guy.


    September 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm

  21. Has anyone other than me noticed that the apogee of the Felquistes’ activity occurred just after the Canadiens had a poor season (1969-70), one in which they failed to make the playoffs after winning four Stanley Cups in five years?


    September 14, 2009 at 7:03 pm

  22. “I suppose you will also insist on a clear majority in answer to a clear question, or would that be asking too much ?”

    Yes. I believe that a clear question with 50% + 1 support is enough for democracy.


    September 14, 2009 at 7:05 pm

  23. i didn’t get it until i read the manifesto but i can only speak for myself. truly agf your point is obtuse and incomprehensible mostly because you are a romantic ideologue. worse – instead of bumbling around harmlessly in a blissful daze – you’re on a mission.

    your soft creative incoherent ramblings are rife with metaphor, transposed identity, obscure cultural interpretations of history and implausible but possible conclusions supported by only by personal question marks – (wouldn’t want to dig that stuff out with a popsicle stick – would we)?

    always entertaining though! i can hear derrida and marcuse laughing their sorry asses off – please continue saving and destroying the universe.

    it’s all good. ;)


    September 14, 2009 at 7:50 pm

  24. If Mr. Laporte took kickbacks, shouldn’t he have been indicted and tried rather than kidnapped and murdered?


    September 14, 2009 at 8:11 pm

  25. rory, re:6:26pm

    pierre laporte and the violent deaths of six others:

    Wilfred (Wilfrid) O’Neill (21 April 1963) – watchman at Montreal’s Canadian Army Recruitment Centre

    Leslie McWilliams and Alfred Pinisch (29 August 1964) – during a gun robbery

    Thérèse Morin age 64 (5 May 1966)a secretary at Grenade Shoe Co. by letter bomb during a CSN strike

    Jean Corbo (14 July 1966) a 16-year-old recruit killed by his own FLQ explosives

    Jeanne d’Arc Saint-Germain (24 June 1970) age 50 by letter bomb at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa


    September 14, 2009 at 8:56 pm

  26. Affirmative.


    September 14, 2009 at 8:59 pm

  27. “It didn’t do much good. The Parti Québécois accomplished much more through non-violent means,”

    Technically, I guess you’re right. The PQ is non-violent. You could argue though that they benefitted greatly from their association with violent extremists who gave them the cred they needed with the, to this day, large number of radicals in their movement.

    Or maybe it was a coincidence that Jacques Rose gave a speech to a standing ovation at the party convention like three months after getting out of “prison”.


    September 14, 2009 at 9:09 pm

  28. You showed me up Johnny. The only one I could remember was the Irishman that PQ organizer turned talk show regular Raymond Villeneuve murdered. (and served less time than a black man in America would have for stealing a TV…How’s that for Negres Blancs?)


    September 14, 2009 at 9:13 pm

  29. What follows is a series of ideas that the reading of the FLQ manifesto has made me think.

    The one good side of reading the FLQ manifesto is that it reminds us that there was an awful lot of “in-group” oppression. After all, the population allegedly was getting terrorized by French-language universities and francophone politicians.

    Recently, I have challenged people to name an anglophone who single handedly brought more harm to the francophone majority than Mr. Duplessis.

    Generally, I am surprised by the “francophones are the negros of Canada analogy”. A major problem with the comparison between the francophones in QC and blacks in the US is that until this year, there had never been a black president. On the hand in the 20th century there has (almost) never not been a francophone premier of QC. The last anglophone mayor in Montreal was in 1910. As a recent resident of QC I am dumb-founded by how the evil anglos could oppress francophones when the vast majority of politicians and civil servants have been francophone. I would bet that if the entire civil service and political establish in the US were black, conditions for blacks would been much better than they have been. I don’t think every elected official would roll over for white corporate America.

    By the way, in the french-language school system, do they actually call the FLQ a terrorist group? Or is there a lot of tap dancing around this issue?

    On a side note, I think there is a separate english language school system, even though as AFG notes, there is much immersion, so that anglo kids don’t get poisoned by QC nationalism while they learn french. AFG should note though that the immersion programs are 100% for grades 1-3 and then 50-50 to the end of elementary. Until recently, the french system was 100% french for 1-3, then 84%-16% for 4-6, so even in french immersion, anglo kids learn more english than in the schools run by the french system.


    September 14, 2009 at 9:23 pm

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