In the official press release issued yesterday, Khadir offered his condolences to Rose’s family and expressed gratitude for a man who spent his “entire life, convinced of the necessity to fight for national liberation and Quebecers’ social emancipation.”
“After the dramatic events of October, 1970,” Khadir continues in the press release, “[Rose] chose to continue his fight by democratic means and by involving himself in citizen’s concerns.”
What Khadir is referring to, of course, by “dramatic events of October, 1970” are the terrorist activities of the FLQ and Paul Rose’s involvement in them. Over a seven-year period, the group was responsible for over 160 violent incidents which killed eight people and injured many more, including the bombing of the Montreal Stock Exchange in 1969. These attacks culminated in 1970 with what is commonly referred to as the October Crisis, in which British Trade Commissioner James Cross was kidnapped and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte was murdered.
The most heinous of those acts was undeniably the cowardly kidnapping of Laporte on October 10, 1970, in front of his home while he was playing football with his nephew. Seven days later, the FLQ announced that he had been executed. He was strangled (police reports point to extreme force used and the evidence suggests that he was possibly strangled with the medallion that was around his own neck), his body stuffed in the trunk of Paul Rose’s car and abandoned. The note sent to police by his kidnappers notifying them that Pierre Laporte had been executed snidely referred to him as the "minister of unemployment and assimilation.”
A former Le Devoir journalist, Laporte, whose family goes back many generations in Quebec, had worked tirelessly to expose corruption during the Duplessis era, and at the time of his death was Labour Minister with the Robert Bourassa government. In other words, he was one of those French Quebecers on whose behalf Rose claimed to be fighting for.
Laporte, who was 49 years old at the time of his death, left behind a wife, children, and the children of his late brother he was also responsible for. Paul Rose and his brother were eventually arrested and tried for his murder and served time in prison for their crimes.
These are the “dramatic events” Khadir conveniently glosses over in his press release while praising Rose’s social implication and lifelong fight for Quebec sovereignty.
I have always appreciated Quebec Solidaire’s stance on social justice and women’s equality. I have nothing but admiration for Francoise David’s grace and gumption in the political arena. I have, on many occasions, praised them as a solid alternative for people wanting to vote for a separatist party that has always appeared much more inclusionary in nature than the PQ. But Khadir’s comments are unacceptable to me — and many, many others.
It honours no one to glorify violence and to elevate a murderer into a martyr – least of all lifelong separatists who have fought and campaigned through democratic means for a country of their own. -
Even if you are a staunch separatist dreaming of the day that you see Quebec form its own nation, there is nothing worth honouring in Paul Rose. This is a chapter of its history Quebec should be ashamed of; not be praising. It honours no one to glorify violence and to elevate a murderer into a martyr – least of all lifelong separatists who have fought and campaigned through democratic means for a country of their own.
What ultimately offends me most about Khadir’s declaration is what it irresponsibly implies - that if we agree with the aims of a group, then violence is an ethically acceptable extension of the struggle, or at the very least, a forgivable one.
Are we saying that the ends justify the means? Are we claiming that a person who kidnaps and murders an innocent man in cold blood is a freedom fighter, worthy of public acknowledgment and praise, simply because the violence he practiced was for the “right” cause? Isn’t that equivalent to a pro-life supporter defending the murder of doctors performing abortions because the perceived moral rectitude invalidates the immorality of murder?
The deliberate and selective cafeteria-style approach to Quebec history benefits no one. The facts remain the facts, and should never be glossed over in an attempt to make part of our collective history more palatable.
This was no youthful indiscretion. Rose was involved with a terrorist group that terrorized, injured and killed innocent Quebecers. A couple of eggs didn’t get broken for the Felquiste omelette to be made. His political activism didn’t simply consist of blowing up a few random mailboxes in upper Westmount. He murdered a man in cold blood. A murder, it should be noted, that Rose never expressed any remorse over. Not once.
So, you can support Quebec independence. You can loathe the War Measures Act and the indiscriminate arrests that took place at the time, even though 86 per cent of Quebecers agreed with its enactment. You can even go ahead and have a little sympathy and appreciation for the misguided passion of FLQ members.
But asking to officially and publicly honour a murderer is revisionist history of the worst kind.