Crisis of October 1970: Laporte, the PLQ and the Mafia

October 1970 Crisis: Laporte, the PLQ and the Mafia

This 50 th anniversary of the October Crisis is an opportunity to recall some disturbing facts about Pierre Laporte, the Mafia and the Liberal Party of Quebec.

The shocking book by retired policeman Claude Lavallée, Révélations d'un espion de la SQ , published by Éditions de l'Homme, details them. The testimony is of prime importance. At the time, he was the specialist in wiretapping at the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

On April 16, 1970, just days before the general election which will make Robert Bourassa the youngest premier of Quebec, Claude Lavallée affirms that the SQ observes a meeting between Pierre Laporte and its main organizer, Jean-Jacques Côté, with the mafia bosses Nicola Di Iorio and Frank Dasti. Di Iorio is considered at the time to be the presumptive successor of Vic Cotroni as the godfather of the Montreal mafia. Frank Dasti was sentenced in 1974 to 20 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking. According to the police report, Laporte was there for an hour. He was under police surveillance as part of the Végas investigation into the Mafia.

Testifying before the Commission of Inquiry on Organized Crime (CECO) in 1974, Coté reveals that Di Iorio, asked Laporte to ensure, if the Liberals are elected, that the activities of the criminal organization are not disrupted. . He complains about the numerous police raids on bars, cafes and nightclubs controlled by the Mafia.

Pierre Laporte was not the only candidate for liberal leadership with ties to Italian organized crime. In 1973, still before the CECO, Willie Obront, the treasurer of the Cotroni clan, admitted having paid between $ 4,500 and $ 5,000 to Robert Bourassa's campaign. The mafia wanted by all means to prevent Claude Wagner, the “Law and Order” candidate from becoming head of the PLQ and prime minister. Once elected leader of the Liberal Party, Bourassa again obtained Obront's financial support in the 1970 general election. The FLQ Manifesto attributed the Liberal victory of 1970 to the “Simard-Cotroni election makers”. A feeling…

According to police officer Claude Lavallée, upon his election, Bourassa was informed of Laporte's links with the Mafia by the SQ chief inspector, Hervé Patenaude, who immediately gave access to wiretaps to Paul Desrochers, his trusted man: “I felt like I was working for a political party, not for the government. On the other hand, Patenaude seemed to take great satisfaction in seeing Quebec come to him. ”

The Sûreté du Québec thus placed itself at the service of the Liberals rather than of justice. It won't be the last time this will happen.

Although aware of the links between Pierre Laporte and the Mafia, Robert Bourassa nevertheless named him Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labor and Immigration. Disappointment on the side of the mafia; it was hoped that Laporte would be appointed Minister of Justice. Claude Lavallée writes that on Bourassa's order, Patenaude forbade SQ investigators to listen to Laporte's conversations. A dam, a library and a boulevard in downtown Montreal bear his name.

The police then focused on his political attaché, René Gagnon. On January 19, 1971, while they were under police surveillance, Gagnon met Di Iorio at the Club Métropole who threatened him to divulge documents which would cause a scandal if they were published: the Liberal Party of Quebec was the object of blackmail by the part of the mafia. Was this the only time?

The kidnapping of Pierre Laporte by the FLQ on October 10, 1970 put an end to the investigation into his links with the Mafia. Claude Lavallée notes: “This event signified the failure of our patient investigation into the corruption of the politician by the underworld, which was soon to lead – I was convinced of this – to the indictment of the Minister of Labor.” Pierre Laporte had become an irreproachable victim, a holy martyr of the federalist cause.

The SQ wiretap reveals that on the very day of Laporte's murder, the Mafia offered to search for him and release him.

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