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

    Duplessis was nothing. Maybe it is because I was not born at the time, but I find anything harmful about him. What do you find harmful about him?

    I would name the British policy after the Conquest of supporting and increasing the absolute power of the Catholic Church as the most harmful thing to happen to the francophone majority. In exchange, the Church was loyal to the British crown and fought hard to ensure that the francophone majority was loyal to the British Crown too. The Church did some good things such as its insistence on family values and births which helped perpetuate the population, but the Church economic policy of agriculture and the rural countryside was harmful and stunted the growth of the francophone majority until the Quiet Revolution came which rejected the Church power and influence.


    September 15, 2009 at 4:31 pm

  2. even though it doesn’t matter? Ok, is the U.S. Census Bureau International Data Base acceptable?

    Anyway, great post Acajack. If there was a “high-five” icon instead of just a thumbs up icon would’ve given that 5 for sure.


    September 15, 2009 at 4:39 pm

  3. It’s nice to see that even the vendus working at the “Desmarais plantation” have at least a half dozen terrorists on speed dial ready to comment on a story.


    September 15, 2009 at 5:13 pm

  4. and that the terrorists, even whilst rebuilding their movement, have the gentillesse to come up out of “deep cover” to talk to them.


    September 15, 2009 at 5:28 pm

  5. That’s my point. They don’t have to hide. They can do talk shows and give speeches and nobody blinks.

    Since you like links, Don MacPherson wrote (another) good piece today:


    September 15, 2009 at 5:40 pm

  6. Yeah, that’s Don MacPherson all right. I notice he repeats the stupid lie about Patrick Bourgeois’ threats of ‘violence’ against the feds’ planned trivialization/reenactment thang.

    I’m surprised he didn’t revisit the phoned-in “threats of violence” against the reenactment. I understand the authorities are taking those very seriously as well. I have it through sources that that was the work of the Lise Payette cell.


    September 15, 2009 at 6:02 pm

  7. i’m with you. why listen to some emotionally unhinged boor when all you have to do is walk away and hope they seek professional help.

    or hope you meet people who smile and quietly suggest that “now is probably not the best time or place to discuss the subject.”


    September 15, 2009 at 6:56 pm

  8. or better yet – instead of dumping personal angst on some unsuspecting party-goer’s maladroit conversation opener – why not discreetly jot down a reference or two that will help the person get up-to-speed?

    bliss is a respected historian – that’s what i would suggest.


    September 15, 2009 at 7:42 pm

  9. “FLQ was a bad thing for the independance movement”…
    those guys should have invented dynamite and gotten so rich they could tell the evil “oppressors” to get out of town because their business wasn’t needed.

    anti-capitalism is all about politics. ask michael moore. don’t you find similarities between him and orwell’s pigs a little ironic. i wonder when that “good socialist” is going to tire of five-star hotels.

    and as fx noted earlier m. levesque almost quit politics because of that standing ovation. i miss that guy from new carlisle – he was the real thing – integrity, intelligence, humility and a heart bigger than the perce rock.


    September 15, 2009 at 8:46 pm

  10. So you are saying that people in Québec need to shut up because they are a linguistic minority in N America north of E.U.M and their population isn’t large enough to merit a francophone society (rather than the currently accepted ‘bilingual’ one, meaning the francophones must be bilingual)?

    The thing with these Brazilian types or foreigners in general who make such comments is that they A) see Québec as Canada/anglophone and B) take for granted that many in Montréal do speak English or want to speak English or don’t care which language they speak. Nothing new here.

    Though everyone also already knows that foreigners on the street will never even bother with ‘bonjour’ or whatever else as long as Québec continues to form a nation in the breast of a united Canada.

    The tricky part is getting people to give a shit about this (or anyting at all not having to do with their little modern conveniences and comforts; take away their TVs and all hell will break lose, I promise you!).

    I know that language isn’t everything. We need to think about other things like PPP CHUM, that effing Rabaska project, etc . . .but these is not reasons to ”put aside our differences” and speak English. And if there truly is something different and special about Québec, I think that it would be due to the fact that it conceives its ideas differently in the way that thoughts are different in different languages. Basically, I mean that if one believes that Québec is a special place, I think the root of that is that it expresses itself in French while being on this part of the world.

    But the average anglophone would also want to be special, I suppose, so any snide, sarcastic comments about how distinct and better this place is are to be expected to level the playing field.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 16, 2009 at 6:29 pm

  11. You moved to Montreal to speak French…so I understand from past posts…..How is it going for you TDM?

    You should understand that in the big NA picture Quebec (and Canada as whole) are not all that important.

    You really expect that anyone will pay any attention to Anglo/Franco debates when in fact they are a fraction of the population of NA ( the french less than 2%) …

    Sorry to bust all your bubbles.. The majority in our economic/social continent doesnt care and would rather we not bother them with our pitiful little language debates. After all they have other fish to fry.

    Thats how big we really are..insignificant to the total. Likely 90% anglos and 10% franco…in this country…Considerng we don’t matter a hill of beans to NA where would you like to be?

    Enjoy you time in Montreal and Quebec…


    September 16, 2009 at 9:59 pm

  12. I am not talking about the big picture or whether or not others care about what happens here outside of Québec. I am talking about what happens inside of Québec.

    So you are saying that we shouldn’t care about our communities and their ability to thrive because of how little we matter to the international community?

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 16, 2009 at 11:10 pm

  13. “So you are saying that we shouldn’t care about our communities and their ability to thrive because of how little we matter to the international community?”

    How well are they thriving?


    September 17, 2009 at 1:25 am

  14. I don’t know. I can’t measure such things. But I do know that if certain actions are not taken, it will be hurt in the long run. I don’t think you can just ”laissez-faire” with something like that. Done.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 17, 2009 at 7:35 am

  15. Compared to Alberta and Norway perhaps, they are not thriving at all. In the global context, however, they are definitely thriving.


    September 17, 2009 at 7:54 am

  16. Oh man, separatists are one of few people that set me off. Sometimes I can’t believe I let myself get carried away like that. Only Christians that tell me I’m going to hell because I lapsed and waivered in my faith in Jesus are more annoying than that.

    That Quebec has its sacred cows is not a myth, it’s a fact. There are a lot of things done in Quebec and Montreal to compensate and prove how open this society is, but it’s all a smokescreen. We have a gay parade every few months, an African dance event, a Ukrainian festival, and a few other things that make up the smokescreen. But some is things are so scared and can’t be touched. Even ex-separatists find out the hard way.

    On a much more serious note, my close friend miraculously survived a car crash last Friday. He got out alive even though he shouldn’t have. Life is short and maybe we’re wasting it as we speak.


    September 17, 2009 at 10:26 am

  17. One can always rationalize against the global context as you can always find someone or something that is doing doing worse, or better. I think you are assuming that I am being critical of Quebec, which I am not. The point is that for the most part the french/english thing in Canada is really only a concern or irritant to a very small portion of the entire demographic of NA. (likely far less than 2%).


    September 17, 2009 at 10:34 am

  18. To me, that article didn’t seem as if Tremblay was renouncing the idea of sovereignty because he no longer believes it’s a good thing in the longrun for Québec, but rather renouncing the fact that money is more important to many/most Québécois and has kept them from voting oui. That title is misleading and, of course, the majority of people won’t read the article but just the title, so they will go on believing whatever trash newspaper’s garbage is dishing out that day. Furthermore, that article is old.

    Au fait, you still haven’t told us about the mother country, allophone.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 17, 2009 at 10:46 am

  19. So what? It may not be a concern people outside of Québec, but why should it cease to be a concern here?

    I don’t see the point you’re trying to make if it is not, ”people shouldn’t care because those outside of Québec don’t care.”

    If that is your point, then I heartily disagree with you. If that is not your point, then I don’t think you even have a point.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 17, 2009 at 11:10 am

  20. The article is indeed old, and Tremblay has long since clarified his position on the matter. But then remember this post is being offered by someone who claims that something like half of the francophone population (as well as anyone who disagrees with his politics) suffers from clinical paranoia and lack of self-esteem. One should adjust one’s expectations accordingly.


    September 17, 2009 at 11:40 am

  21. ABP, you may have unwittingly put your finger on the problem. In actual fact, it’s not that there are necessarily too few people outside Quebec who pay attention to what’s going on inside the province, it’s that there are too many!

    I know that 2% is just a number you pulled out of the air, but what if it really is 2%, or 1% of 0.25%? Why is it that the interactions of bus drivers in Montreal or the language abilities of drive-thru attendants at the Tim Hortons just around the corner from my house are of such great interest to people in Saskatoon or Kitchener?

    Now, I am not going to say that bad stuff doesn’t happen in Quebec. Bad stuff happens everywhere. But how come stuff like the recent bus driver episode in Montreal gets way more mileage around the water cooler in Markham or Winnipeg than the fact that a black guy minding his own business in Courtenay, BC was attacked and beaten by three rednecks in a pickup truck, with the whole thing caught on tape!

    Why do people outside Quebec care so much about what happens inside the province? Why are you still here ABP?

    Would a provocative blog called UnAngloEnragé.com written by a guy in Ottawa draw a whole bunch of irate francophones from Quebec, Franco-Ontarians and Acadians?

    I have given this some thought and have come to the conclusion that the reason Quebec is more or less forced to live in a glass house is because some people just can’t stand to have a corner of their country/continent (yes I know North America isn’t just Canada and the States, but most people’s continental view is limited to that anyway) where their language and culture aren’t dominant.

    Getting back to the original issue: yes, I care a whole lot about what happens internally in Quebec. I live here and my kids are growing up here. 99.9% of Americans could not even know we exist, I would still care. Just as people in Bhutan and Nauru care about those places.

    I also get it with respect to Quebec anglophones and allophones. This is their home too.

    But as for the others (and I am not just talking about this blog, but also countless other blogs as well as journalists and commentators), what gives? Is it really genuine altruistic concern or is it really that Quebec is the proverbial fly in your anglo-hegemonic ointment?


    September 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm

  22. Great post. Thanks Acajack.


    September 17, 2009 at 12:47 pm

  23. De hecho, se cayo cuando le preguntaste de su opinion sobre Catalonia…


    September 17, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  24. If allophone is of the same ethnicity as his close friend, his origins are in Poland. Glowacki is a Polish name.


    September 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

  25. I hope he’s not, it would depress me to no end. My wife is Polish.


    September 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm

  26. Acajack,

    Don’t kid yourself about blogs being representative of any kind of important opinion currents. And please lose the anglo-hegemonic schtick, it lessens your otherwise intelligent observations.

    So people from outside Quebec comment on Quebec blogs, can’t you just accept it for what it is and not see some foreboding presence ?

    Lots of Quebecers comment on blogs outside Quebec, its not a sin .


    September 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm

  27. I think you guys are missing the point. Allophone is not questioning Michel Tremblay’s political views. His point was that questioning the desirability of Quebec’s sovereignty will get you publicly crucified, and he provided an example for it. While I do not think that this “reaction” is representative of how most Quebeckers would react, it still shows that this subject of often far too emotional for some to be discussed rationally.


    September 18, 2009 at 1:04 pm

  28. @ Acajack : “Speaking for myself and most of the federalists I know, I can tell you for a fact that this is not true. Many francophone Liberals may actually feel more strongly about the place of French than a lot of the PQ’s sympathizers who live in areas where language is not an issue.”

    I agree with you there, but I know lots of sovereignist who think nationalism and federalism do not mix. It seems like people have found two very simplistic equations to describe Quebec’s political scene. While for outside observers PQ sympathiser = Future terrorist, sovereignist often associate “Federalist” with “Slave to the evil anglo-saxon”. Try to have a debate after that…


    September 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm

  29. While James will probably love your post, I’d have to point out that he was the one to mention that Wikipedia was a very unreliable source…


    September 18, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  30. I think people regardless of political stripe have a difficult time accepting that people who are on their side or are assumed to be on their side either change their minds or turn out to have been on the other side all along.

    A classic case in point was Governor-General Michaëlle Jean, whom most sovereignists assumed was at least a sympathizer. The separatist movement was as as heartbroken as 14-year-old dumped by her first boyfriend when she became GG!

    Many federalists also have a really hard time accepting the fact that some immigrants can be sovereignists. And it riles anglo federalists even more when anglos like David Levine (and he was even Jewish!), David Payne, Robin Philpot or Christopher Hall are sovereignists.


    September 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm

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