The Liberals in Quebec are reluctant to vote in favor of a motion, supported by all the other parties, to demand an official apology from Ottawa for the summary arrest of nearly 500 people during the October crisis.
The text presented by the Parti Québécois received the support of the CAQ and Québec solidaire, but the Liberal Party of Quebec could prevent a vote from being held when the motion is tabled at the Salon Bleu, scheduled for today.
“We are asking for an official apology from the Prime Minister of Canada and a full opening of the archives of all federal institutions involved in the events so that the light is shed once and for all”, summarizes the interim head of the PQ, Pascal Bérubé .
The exact wording, he said, could be called upon to change.
The promulgation of the War Measures Act on October 16, 1970, in the wake of the kidnappings of James Cross and Pierre Laporte by the Front de liberation du Québec, led to the arrest of at least 497 Quebeckers.
They were generally people linked directly or indirectly to the sovereignist movement and some of the defendants were not released until weeks or even months later.
With this exceptional measure, adopted by Ottawa at the request of the government of Quebec and the City of Montreal, the federal government suspended civil liberties. At the same time, some 8,000 Canadian army soldiers were deployed in the streets of Montreal.
For Mr. Bérubé, this operation was “worthy of a totalitarian state”. “It left psychological traces in several people who were woken up during the night by kicking boots in the doors,” said the PQ leader.
Although Ottawa acted at the request of the government of Quebec and the City of Montreal, the PQ believes that it was Ottawa that chose the means of war measures. “He chose it and he abused it,” says Mr. Bérubé.
When the statue of John A. Macdonald was debunked and beheaded in Montreal at the end of August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was ready to re-examine the record of all his predecessors, including that of his father. “Well, the time has come,” says Pascal Bérubé.
The Liberal Party declined to comment on the matter on Wednesday.