Madam Chair, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.
For the Government of Canada, the 50th anniversary of the October crisis represents an opportunity, one that I suspect is going to be missed, to apologize for imposing war measures and for fabricating an insurrection plot that it said was intended to overthrow the Government of Quebec. Good heavens, how far from the truth that was.
In 1970, Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Canada sent in the army. It allowed the RCMP to infiltrate and destabilize democratic and militant organizations in Quebec, continuing long after the tragic events that followed. Canada did not do this to put an end to an insurrection, but because it wanted to suppress the sovereignist movement. That was its fundamental reasoning.
At the time, Marc Lalonde, who was Pierre Elliott Trudeau's chief of staff at the time, summoned Peter Newman, the editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star, and told him: “We believe that a group of prominent Quebeckers is plotting to replace the province's duly elected government. ...The leaders include René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau, Marcel Pepin and Claude Ryan. This attempt to establish a parallel government must be stopped.”
Just imagine. These four great names included three great premiers of Quebec and one great union leader. They were hardly likely to want to overturn the government. That story was just a pretext to justify suspending basic rights in Quebec.
Need I remind hon. members that the War Measures Act was passed in 1914 during the First World War? It would be invoked only three times in history: during the two world wars and during the October crisis.
In the days preceding October 15, the RCMP security service collaborated with the Sûreté du Québec on preparing a list of suspects. Originally, there were 56 names, to which the RCMP added another hundred or so. They ended up handing over a list of 158 names to Prime Minister Trudeau. According to the records, people whose names were on the list had taken part in violent demonstrations, had incited violence or were suspected of terrorist activities.
Once the arrests began, there would be many more, completely without cause. At four in the morning on October 16, 1970, the War Measures Act was invoked. It would led to the largest military intervention in peacetime in Canada. During that one night alone, more than 450 people were arrested and thrown in jail.
A decade after these sweeping arrests, former minister Jean Marchand, who later became Speaker of the Senate, went as far as to say that invoking the War Measures Act had been like using a cannon to kill a fly. However, then prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau never expressed remorse. Even in 1993, he was still saying that “society must take every means at its disposal to defend itself against the emergence of a parallel power which defies the elected power.”
I myself was very young at the time of the October crisis. I was starting at university to become a teacher. One morning, when I was going to class, I saw soldiers, the army, guns and all of that. I used to walk across Lafontaine Park to get to class, and I must admit that I was worried. Come to think of it, I must have been terrified. When I got to school, I could not open the door, because the university was also closed.
As soon as the Canadian Bill of Rights was suspended, even though the anti-terrorism experts of all three police forces, namely municipal, provincial and federal, had only a handful of suspects at most, 500 people were arrested and jailed without a warrant. Of those 500, 90 were released without being charged. The others were charged, but 95% of them were eventually acquitted or had their charges dropped.
These people were not criminals. Most were separatists, but some were not. Among those who were arrested or jailed were poets, singers, journalists, union members, lawyers, ordinary activists, students and separatists.
They included Pierre Côté, another Pierre Côté, Ginette Courcelles, Martin Courcy, Jean-Guy Couture, Jean-Marcel Cusson, Daniel Cyr, Micheline Cyr, Jean-Marie Da Silva, Blaise Daignault, Dominique Damant, Paul Danvoye, Michèle Danvoye-Raymond, Djahangir Dardachti, Mario Darin, Brenda Dash, Victor Daudelin, Benoit-André Davignon, Bruno De Gregorio, Claire Demers, François Demers, Jean-Pierre Deschêsne, Pierre Desfosses, Hélène Desjardins, Marcel Desjardins, Louise Désormeaux, Richard Desrosiers, Jean Désy, Jean-Pierre Dionne, Thomas Gordon Dolan, Gaëtan Dostie, Laura Maud Dottin, Ginette Doucet, Jacques Dubé, Michel Dubé, Robert Dubeau, Bernard Dubois, Claude-André Ducharme, Albert Dufour, Claire Duguay, Claude Dulac, Michel Dumont, Bernard Dupéré, Claire Dupond, Pierre Dupont, another Pierre Dupont, Réjeanne Dupont, Danielle Dupont, Daniel Dupuis, Myriann Farkas, Andrée Ferreti, Mireille Filion, Lise Filion, Yvon Forget, Guy Fortin, Joseph Fortin, Pierre Fournier, M. Fréchette.
In the aftermath of the events of October 1970, my brother Michel Pauzé was also arrested and interrogated for more than four hours. It was not fun like question period, because I only found out about it years later. He never spoke about it. It was a shock for me to learn that my brother, who at the time was just a member of a student association at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal, had been arrested like that for no reason.
I am also not ready to forget when the police came to our family home, where I was living with my grandmother and my mother. The police came in and searched the entire house. Ours was not an isolated case, because the police carried out 31,700 searches, of which 4,600 resulted in seizures during that time. In many cases, these searches were violent. That is what I call terrorism. That is what I call seeking to terrorize people. I still remember when they entered our home.
I would like to see the federal government condemn this violence today, but despite our repeated calls, the government has remained silent. However, the Canadian government has apologized for three other interventions. In 1988, it apologized to victims of Japanese origin who were displaced and interned during the Second World War. In 1990, it apologized to victims of Italian origin who were interned during the Second World War. In 2006, it apologized to victims of Ukrainian origin who were interned during the First World War. Nothing for Quebeckers, however. In the first two cases, the government financially compensated victims or associations so they could organize educational and commemorative activities. For Italian Canadians, the government promised to do the same in June 2019.
In closing, I will repeat the following question: Where is the federal government's apology for the victims of the October crisis?
Many Quebeckers are still scarred by this crisis. The government must not only acknowledge it, but also accept its share of responsibility. Today, we are demanding an official apology from the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Canada for the enactment, on October 16, 1970, of the War Measures Act and the use of the army against Quebec's civilian population to arbitrarily arrest, detain without charge and intimidate nearly 500 innocent Quebeckers.