Fifty years ago today, James Cross, a British diplomat, was kidnapped by an FLQ cell in Montréal, launching what came to be called The October Crisis. Five days later, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Pierre Laporte, the Deputy Premier, Parliamentary Leader, Minister of Immigration, and Minister of Labour and Manpower for Québec’s Liberal government, was kidnapped by a second FLQ cell. A week later he was murdered. A beloved servant of Québec, many mourned his death. By December 3rd, James Cross was freed in exchange for safe passage for his kidnappers to Cuba.
Though not to be celebrated, these events do need to be remembered as a significant milestone in Canadian history. The first and so far the only time the War Measures Act has been used to shut down a Canadian city. The most violent of many past and subsequent stand-offs between Québec separatist factions and the federal government. The end of any broad support the FLQ may have had among other québécois nationalists.
The action in Evidence of Uncertain Origin takes place the year before The October Crisis, during escalating FLQ violence in and around Montreal. The setting and characters engage and discuss facets of Québec nationalism which it is hoped will encourage readers to find out more about those perilous times in our history.
For a fascinating retelling of the many factors contributing to the the October Crisis, you can read journalist D’Arcy Jenish’s The Making of the October Crisis: Canada’s Long Nightmare of Terrorism at the Hands of the FLQ coming out tomorrow in paperback.