Document of Learning #1: Nationally Mistaken Identity and Wheel of Revolution Upgrade
To most people, Canada’s identity remains as fluid as a coursing river, though ironically lacking a single cohesive mainstream with its multiculturalism and diversity. Yet despite the criticism and musings we receive from other countries on our lack of core identity, there still exists boundaries to Canada’s liberty and freedom. Such limitations are especially prominent during times of crisis, as perfectly encaptured by the October Crisis in 1970. This uprising led by the extremist Québécois organization Front de Libération du Quebec directly challenged Canada’s idea of civilian rights. Inspired by foreign revolutions such as the decolonization of Algeria and Cuban revolution lead by Che Guevera, the FLQ promoted separation of Quebec as an independent state from Canada (Laurendeau). FLQ committed many violent actions of kidnapping, robbing, and detonation of bombs in mailboxes bearing the Royal Arm. Eventually, in the October of 1970, the organization kidnapped the Minister of Immigration and Labour Pierre Laporte, and British Diplomat James Cross in demand for the release of FLQ convicts, a $500,000 ransom, and broadcasts of the FLQ Manifesto on the radio (Smith, October Crisis). Under this circumstance, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau issued the only use of the War Measures Act during peacetime in Canadian history which allows “broad powers to the Canadian government to maintain security and order during war or insurrection” (Smith, War Measures Act).
As a nostalgic person, I hereby present another wheel of revolution to better explain this event. Mind you, I personally think now that it should be referred to as a spiral, not a wheel, for history is only a resemblance, not a clone, of past events. In this manner, the entire history of humans is theoretically traceable by a single gigantic recursive spiral staircase. Should an event be significant enough, the society should be in a different shape than when the wheel began.
Another MS Paint Masterpiece
The October Crisis inspires change from all four social, economic, environmental, and political quadrants. From the economic perspective, the conflict begins in the formation of the FLQ, “Fed by nationalist discontent and rising unemployment, and by the example of colonial states rising against foreign imperialism” (Smith, October Crisis). Not to mention the ransom demanded by the FLQ and the cost of employing the War Measures Act. The organization initially received great support from students and workers influenced by revolutionary atmospheres from other countries, but later became increasingly violent, creating a terrorist environment for all Canadian citizens. The crisis peaked when members of the FLQ kidnapped Pierre Laporte and James Cross, with Pierre Laporte murdered soon after and found dead in a car trunk. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau controversially invokes the only usage of the War Measures Act during peacetime. 18 years after the crisis in 1988, the more moderate Emergency Act was created in replacement of the War Measures Act due to the controversy created by Pierre Trudeau’s reaction to the crisis. While the October Crisis impacts all Canadians from border to border, it is perhaps most significant for its revelation of Canadian identity previously unnoticed to the world and ourselves.
As La crise d’octobre spins a whole turn of the wheel in Canadian history, the Canadian identity renders itself transparent, taking form in the shape a coherent, Canadian value. During an interview with Pierre Trudeau, CBC reporter Tim Ralfe states that ” [his] choice is to live in a society that is free and democratic which means you don’t have people with guns running around in it. And one of the things I have to give up for that choice is the fact that people like [Pierre Trudeau], may be kidnapped”. While Ralfe’s statement very well supports current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement of Canada as a post-national, democratic and free society, Pierre Trudeau’s response ironically disagrees with his son’s claims. Pierre Trudeau undermines the liberty so well represented by Canadians, saying that “it’s more important to keep law and order in this society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don’t like the looks of helmets” (Trudeau). The activation of the War Measures Act, along with Pierre Trudeau’s response to Ralfe, demonstrates that there still remains central values of Canada that weighs more than a lack of it. While democracy and civil rights are factors of Canada’s infamous post-nationalism, it appears that ordered and unified resolutions to crises are more vital in Canada’s approach to danger. The October Crisis shows that there is still a core foundation of safety, protection, and law that is placed above our liberty.
In my opinion, the definition of a specific nationalist idea is meaningful in pushing a country in unified directions and approaches to problems. It is evidently easier to organize a society sharing coherent values than a country of scattered identities. Every country in the world undergoes many crucial decisions, but under different national goals and values, each of these decisions is approached differently. With a post-national country, however, it is hard to move in any direction without receiving backlash from all the diverse perspectives. Indeed, an open idea of nationhood may serve as a new step to globalization, but organized responses to threats and crisis will be nearly impossible to rally with the huge population and huge diversity of demands. National beliefs emerged during past events remind the current society of a world without these ideals. Nationalism recalls the reason why the nation fought to establish these values, and prevents future generations from degrading to a world without.
Laurendeau, Marc. “Front De Libération Du Québec”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2013, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/front-de-liberation-du-quebec/. Accessed 5 Mar 2018.
Smith, Denis. “October Crisis”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2013, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/october-crisis/. Accessed 3 Mar 2018.
Smith, Denis. “War Measures Act”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2013, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/war-measures-act/. Accessed 5 Mar 2018.
The Globe and Mail. Newsboy Holds Up A Newspaper With A Banner Headline Reporting The Invoking Of The War Measures Act On Oct 16, 1970, Following The Kidnapping Of British Diplomat James Cross And Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte By The FLQ. CP. 1970, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/resizer/0i2Ymrp7_DzalbsS4VULl4uGf9M=/1200×0/filters:quality(80)/arc-anglerfish-tgam-prod-tgam.s3.amazonaws.com/public/JXCNYE4T75EI7MZUZIR65LQ6ZU. Accessed 5 Mar 2018.
Trudeau, Pierre. “CBC Archives: Just Watch Me, 1970|CBC”. 1970.