The October Crisis – War Measures Act

Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act. I am re-posting this article today, to remember the enactment of the War Measures Act by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau more than 50 years ago. I believe that we have the right to protest peacefully in a way that doesn’t impede with other people’s rights. It’s just my personal opinion, but our current Prime Minister Trudeau has failed us by not listening to and responding to the protestors sooner, and not organizing additional resources to help clear the protestors sooner.

I know that when I visit Ottawa, I can never find a parking space, and would expect a ticket or to get towed if I parked in front of the Parliament Buildings. There is a beautiful and large front lawn which would be perfect for protestors to occupy as long as they can stay warm! They could bother the politicians and leave Ottawa’s residents in peace.

So my thoughts are:

  • No thanks to the protestors for impeding the citizens of Ottawa
  • No thanks to Mr. Trudeau for not listening and acting sooner and efficiently.
  • Thank you to the police officers and local administrators for doing the best that they can
  • No thank you to the politicians and city councillors looking to pass blame and further the divisiveness for their own gain
  • This protest is completely out of hand, has gone on for too long, but is not anything like the October Crisis

Here is the original post from 2020 – 50 years after the October Crisis:

Recalling The October Crisis

The date was October 17, 1970 and I remember my father fiddling with the battery powered radio trying to find any channel in our camp – a group of us were fishing in a remote area of northern Ontario Canada. Listening through the static of an AM station we could barely distinguish the news; the body of Pierre Laporte had been found in the trunk of a car and the joys of the day faded as our cabin filled with disbelief and a solemn hush.

Pierre Trudeau Invoked the War Measures Act

The very day before, Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister of the time, with the support of both the Mayor of Montreal and the Premier of Quebec had invoked the War Measures Act – we were amid the October Crisis.

Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau (1919 - 2000) at Claridge's hotel, London, 4th January 1969.  (Photo by Watson/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau (1919 – 2000) at Claridge’s hotel, London, 4th January 1969. (Photo by Watson/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Mr. Laporte was the Deputy Premier of Quebec. He along with James Cross, a British Diplomat, had been kidnapped by an extremist group, a small radical faction within the Quebec Sovereignty movement known as Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ). Since the early 1960’s the FLQ had been responsible for numerous bombings, robberies and violent acts and until that shocking day the FLQ had the support of many Quebecers.

The War Measures Act

The War Measures Act was a Federal Law established in 1914 giving extensive powers to the Canadian government (Cabinet) to maintain security during times of war or civil emergency. Up until 1970 the Act had only been utilized during the first and second world wars, which led to numerous accounts of both Civil Rights and Civil Liberties abuses by the then governments. When invoked it suspends Civil Liberties and in 1970 the associated Regulations made it illegal to belong to the FLQ.

October 1970 Girl and Soldier - The October Crisis
Library and Archives Canada
October 1970 Girl and Soldier – The October Crisis
Library and Archives Canada

With the Act invoked and the Canadian Army occupying most of Montreal, Police searched premises without warrant and arrested almost 500 people without charges, legal counsel or opportunity for bail.

Eventually all but 62 people were released, the negotiation and safe release of James Cross was realized and a few remaining FLQ members were granted safe passage to Cuba only to return years later to face trial – the crisis and days of the FLQ were over.

It is reported that at the time of the Crisis, the vast majority of Canadians supported the governments reaction and use of the Act however I doubt this included Quebecers as it was only after the discovery of Mr. Laporte’s body that the FLQ fell completely out of favor. Over time many have condemned it’s use and have sited Prime Minister Trudeau’s response to the Crisis as unwarranted, excessive and a flagrant abuse of Civil Liberties.

Mr. Trudeau utilized extreme methods during extreme circumstance and acted with a political will rarely seen since – right or wrong, and much different from governments of today, they acted, and acted using the best means they felt were available – for that I applaud Mr. Trudeau.

Everything is about balance and while Rights and as in this discussion, Civil Liberties are the fundamentals and cornerstone of Canadian society, to what extent should Liberties protect the Rights of people who are infringing upon the Rights and more importantly the safety of others? I just do not believe this is the will of Canadians. Over time, this imbalance has trickled down to our police forces making services today a reactionary function rather than preventive. Put plainly, do I want to catch the killer or to prevent the murder?

Scales of justice
Scales of justice

As in Mr. Trudeau’s case, I want today’s government to act rather than spew rhetoric. I want policing to include more Ride Checks to stop impaired driving, to have the ability to question and take names of people in suspicious circumstance, why not?, and I do not understand why members of known criminal organizations and gangs cannot be targeted and searched.

Does this create the potential for abuse and Civil Liberties violations? For certain, but why not focus on developing regulations and harsh consequences to prevent abuses rather than backing away from society’s problems – there is a fine line to be walked and some will say a slippery slope.

The Emergencies Act

In 1988 the War Measures Act was abolished and replaced by the Emergencies Act. The key difference is that the Cabinet cannot declare an Emergency without the approval of Parliament and any suspension of Civil Liberties is subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which basically means that Civil Liberties are guaranteed but these can be limited if the government can show reasonable grounds.

So government still has a legal ability to act in emergency situations as before.

What about today’s gun problem? If this is not an Emergency, at what point does it become one? To date, government has avoided the issue, half heartedly pointing to tougher gun laws when everyone knows the problem is illegal guns, illegally traded and transported by criminal organizations.

This problem will get worse until government leaders are willing to act – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau certainly isn’t Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Hôtel du Parlement du Québec, Ville de Québec
Juan Carlos Fonseca Mata / CC BY-SA (
Hôtel du Parlement du Québec, Ville de Québec
Juan Carlos Fonseca Mata / CC BY-SA (

One last thought about the October Crisis. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s actions were not in response to a separatist movement but in response to an escalation in violence perpetrated by an extremist faction. I love Quebec and would never want the people of Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada. But if that day should come as a result of Quebecers voting in a majority, I hope to have a terrific neighbor! These are the Rights that Canadians have lived and died for.

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22 thoughts on “The October Crisis – War Measures Act

    1. Thanks for the comment MIke! In 1982 one of Pierre Trudeau’s greatest accomplishments was patriating Canada’s Constitution – transferring the highest law, the British North America Act, from the British Parliament to Canada’s federal and provincial legislatures.

  1. Lillie, what an interesting and thoughtful analysis. I barely remember all this—I was in college at the time, or just graduated, and my attention wasn’t on anything but Vietnam. These times of upheaval seem to occur in cycles, and it fascinates me that things can go bad at the same time in different countries amid very different situations (e.g., May 1968). All the questions you ask are valid ones.

    1. Thank you Angela. I was remembering the “times” and how we followed the stories here in the newspaper everyday, while my husband was remembering the old radio in his cabin!

  2. Hmm, I just read up on the October Crisis and the War Measures Act after seeing the news today! It is so interesting to hear your perspective on it. Like you mentioned, I don’t believe that the present situation is comparable.

  3. I recall PT”s “Just Watch Me Quote”. That altercation was much different than the current one, with kidnappings and murder. That being said, waiting a couple of weeks to invoke the Emergency Measures Act this time was wise. Even if it was not, it must appear to have been well considered and thought out and not just a knee jerk reaction. I agree JT should have had the cojones to meet and listen to a polite statement from the leaders, but not to give in to demands, just let them be heard. This protest started off honourably enough, but like all protests and celebrations these days, was hijacked by other radical causes with people who wanted to behave badly. It needs to end, as do the restrictions in a well thought out and timely fashion, not because somebody demands it stop. The weapons and bad actors discovered in Alberta over the past 2 days show this was about to get much more ugly. Covid is the enemy, not Canadians or the government, whether people believe in Covid or not. We all need to listen to and respect all sides in polite discourse. Stay well and thanks for sharing. Lillie. Allan

    1. Hello from the UK.

      I believe Covid 19 exists, it’s just that many do not understand what it is. I was a bit slow off the mark, but I worked it all out in June 2020. I will explain if I may. Some standard text I adapt if required.

      “I have had my fair share of vaccines, including polio I believe. I used to think vaccines were of some use until, at 60 years of age in 2020, I researched properly. I changed my mind.

      Covid 19 is the ‘flu, dressed up as a monster to scare people, re-branded if you will. This helps big pharma etc, control the populace and make more money.

      The ‘flu is the internal toxicosis of the body, mainly via urea, partly due to metabolism of food and partly due to the many poisons in our environment which can and do enter our bodies in the air, food and water. The ‘flu cannot be transmitted to someone else as it is individual to each person.

      Unless your blood is given to someone in a blood transfusion, for example.

      Injecting poisons such as via vaccines merely adds to the toxicosis problem. Vaccines have never been of any use, it is merely that constant and persistent ‘advertising’ persuaded people that they were of use. The various deaths and harm have been well-documented over the decades. It is being documented now.

      Vitamin D deficiency is the true pandemic due to indoor working and living away from the sunshine which, if we do the right thing things, will give us vitamin D (free!). Big pharma etc. are not keen on free as they don’t make much money out of it.

      Vitamin D levels drop in the winter months, depending on latitude, due to reduced sunshine levels and as any gains in the summer months are depleted.

      Vaccines are neuro-toxins, if there is anything in them at all, as are most big pharma drugs. Therefore they are at best pointless.

      If your immune system is in good order then by and large you will tolerate a poisonous vaccine. If weakened you will suffer various side effects. If your immune system is very poor you may die.

      Boosting your immune system with vitamin D can go a long way to protecting you against the toxicosis, but vitamin C is very good as an anti-oxidant to help flush the toxins out of your system. By and large you should be able to gain your vitamins etc from good, untainted food. Highly processed foods will not help.

      I have seen the statistics on Australia since February 2020. These show a close correlation between Covid cases and vaccination. It is abundantly clear the vaccines are causing the case numbers rise, as would be expected. Look at other statistics and you will no doubt see the same correlation.

      I have done much on Covid 19 etc., here is my link to my summary. That gives access to the various other issues. I cover the statistics in the UK and USA and more recently those in Australia.

      The following explains the variants. These are merely fear techniques to fool the gullible.

      The following explains the media fear campaign.

      A useful website on the deceit.

      It should be noted that fear tends to ‘freeze’ the body’s immune system from functioning correctly and can stop people doing sensible things. Like avoiding having foreign bodies injected into their systems.

      And I wonder how many people would choose to have a vaccine if they had to pay for them directly rather than via their taxes (vaccination is not free)?

      As regards vaccinated/unvaccinated I gather the goal posts keep changing so unvaccinated currently means not fully vaccinated in at least some countries. This means people who have had vaccines are lumped in with those who have not had recent vaccines. Therefore the people of the world are being duped into having something nasty put into their bodies.

      Unless they like playing Russian roulette with their bodies of course. But then that is both sad and mad.

      As regards reasons of variance of symptoms, if any, between those who are vaccinated the problem lies in not knowing what exactly in each vial; sadly people will sell nothing for something and the vial might contain only saline, it is impossible to tell without testing each vial.

      Vaccines are causing the issues by and large nowadays and case numbers and deaths will rise as a consequence. I recommend avoiding vaccines like the plague.

      Please note I do use humour as necessary on posts and pages to lighten the mood and help make the points. I will use strong salty language if required.

      So Covid 19 is real, but it is the ‘flu which varies in effect from person to person. It will be always with us in current circumstances, except we can substantially reduce the effects by stopping polluting this beautiful planet and our bodies, eating and drinking non-toxic food and drink etc.

      Kind regards

      Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson

  4. I generally agree with what you’ve saying in your post. Being from Alberta I am familiar with the attitudes expressed by the truckers. I did see a lot of symbols on the trucks here including swastikas and especially “Wexit” for the western separatists. To this day I fail to understand why truckers would risk their livelihoods, their trucks and their time because they don’t like masks or other mandates. It was not the border restrictions because they could not enter the States without being vaccinated, irrespective of what restrictions Canada does or doesn’t have. So why then risk so much for so little? One possible reason is the systemic hatred of all things Trudeau in Alberta. It began with his father and likely had to do with the PGRT Act. Now however most Albertans (especially in the south) couldn’t tell you why they hate him so much. I believe that it’s mostly a case of having learned that attitude from their fathers. So I don’t think that PM Trudeau had anything to gain from meeting with the truckers. Far too many of them were radicalized to the extent that thier actions were unpredictable. We certainly saw that in Alberta. Now as far as using the Emergency Measures Act to disperse the truckers, that I don’t understand. Why are our laws not strong enough to deal with this situation without going to such extreme measures? There’s no question that the truckers had to go. Nothing they were asking for justified blocking our borders and doing lasting damage to Canada’s economy and reputation. I this action will be written about extensively and maybe then I’ll understand it better. For now I’m just relieved that the truckers are gone from the most sensitive blockades.

  5. I agree with your thoughts about what JT could have done sooner. I just hope that this does not get ugly as it gets de-escalated. I firmly believe that this main Wellington Street crowd are being lead by the noses by a much nastier crowd. Bernie

      1. I guess I see why they had to wait till they had the forces and the support as it required a lot of coordination. It certainly did appear calm and they did not become inflammatory as it could have. And now the Emergency Measures Act was passed. Needed or not? Now it’s hard to know isn’t it.

  6. My big question is…Why did we do the border block the week before the Americans? If we had done it at the same time or not done it let them be the bad guys, would the protest have been eliminated or limited to the U.S. I hear nothing about protests on the other side of the border. The mandates in general were all about persuading more people to get vaccinated and trying to keep our healthcare system functioning. The moment I see a nazi, confederate ot Trump 2024 flag in a Canadian protest, the protest is no longer about the original cause. It is about civil disobedience until you get your way. People have rights and freedoms until their rights and freedoms interfere with those of others. Society is about the bigger picture, rather than self interest. We do not have to like the laws, but if they are not targeted at just one small segment, we should do our best to follow them.

      1. Looked like a longer, kinder, gentler version of Jan. 6/21, but outdoors. And all the uploads relating to brutality and violence that actually did not happen.

      2. Much kindler and gentler thankfully! When our daughter walked past the protests on her way to work each day it seemed like a party or vacation instead of a protest.

  7. A key distinction that the U.S. holds with regard to this civil disobedience issue seems to be the matter of 50 American states each of which can choose to go along or reject federal policy. Only Quebec seems to be a similar problem in your country if I read this blog right.

    1. I once read a document on the Canadian Federal Government website that summarized the problem in an interesting manner. It said Canada was designed as a single country divided into provincial administrative regions that now act like separate countries (and some think that they should formalize themselves as separate countries). The USA is a collection of separate countries – states – that now act like a single federal nation. I have tried to locate that document but I believe it’s now gone.

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