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FLQ members practised propaganda of the deed and issued declarations that called for a socialist insurrection against oppressors identified with "Anglo-Saxon" imperialism,[1] the overthrow of the Quebec government, the independence of Quebec from Canada and the establishment of a French-speaking Quebecer "workers society". The organization was also influenced by other movements, such as those for the independence of former colonies such as Algeria, Vietnam and Cuba. The Soviet Union denounced the FLQs kidnapping of Cross and the murder of Laporte, and refused to recognize it as a national liberation movement and instead designated it as a "terrorist separatist organization".[7]

The first formation of the FLQ was composed of members of the Rassemblement pour lIndépendance Nationale, some of whom wished for faster action. This group formed the "Réseau de Résistance", or Resistance Network. This group eventually broke up, forming the FLQ. The group was recruited among various sources, eventually recruiting one Mario Bachand. The FLQ commenced their attacks on March 7, 1963. Some of their more notable crimes include bombing a railway (by which then–Prime Minister of Canada John Diefenbaker had arranged to travel within the week).

By June 1, 1963, this original group had been arrested. In 1963, Gabriel Hudon and Raymond Villeneuve were sentenced to 12 years in prison after their bomb killed Wilfred ONeill, a watchman at Montreals Canadian Army Recruitment Centre. Their targets also included English-owned businesses, banks, McGill University, Loyola College and the Black Watch Armoury.[9]

A group of six individuals, two of whom were brothers of FLQ members arrested in 1963 (Robert Hudon and Jean Gagnon), commenced a series of crimes in Quebec over a period between September 26, 1963, and April 9, 1964. They called themselves the "Quebec Liberation Army" (L’Armée de Libération du Québec), and stole approximately C$100,000 (approx. C$747,000 when adjusted for inflation as of May 2012) in goods and money. Most of these individuals were also released by 1967.

A larger group of revolutionaries became known as the "Revolutionary Army of Quebec" (L’Armée Révolutionnaire du Québec). This group attempted to focus on training, particularly in St. Boniface. A botched gun robbery August 29, 1964, resulted in two deaths. Cyr Delisle, Gilles Brunet, Marcel Tardif, François Schirm, and Edmond Guenette, the five members arrested in connection with the deaths of Leslie MacWilliams and Alfred Pinisch, workers at the store, were sentenced to life in prison. A number of other members of the FLQ were arrested as well.

Charles Gagnon and Pierre Vallières combined their "Popular Liberation Movement" with the FLQ in July 1965. This also combined several other pro-sovereignty groups. This may have led to a more socialist FLQ attitude. This new group robbed a New Democratic Party office and a radio station for supplies, many of which were used to write La Cognée, the revolutionary paper published by the FLQ during the many years of activity. It translates to "The Hit". The 4th wave saw the increasing use of explosives, the production styles of which were sometimes detailed in La Cognée. An FLQ member, Jean Corbo, was killed by his own explosive, and a 64-year-old female office worker died during the FLQ bombing of the shoe factory Lagrenade.

By August 1966, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had arrested many FLQ members. Gagnon and Vallières had fled to the United States, where they protested in front of the United Nations and were later arrested. It was during his incarceration that Vallières wrote his book White Niggers of America. In September 1967, the pair were extradited to Canada.

In 1968, after various riots within Quebec and in Europe, a new group of FLQ was formed. Within a year, this group of Felquistes had exploded 52 bombs. Rather than La Cognée, they wrote La Victoire, or Victory. The various members of the group were arrested by May 2, 1969.

On February 13, 1969, the Front de libération du Québec set off a powerful bomb that ripped through the Montreal Stock Exchange causing massive destruction and seriously injuring 27 people. After another series of bombings, on September 28, 1969, they bombed the home of Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau. After the bombing, police concluded that the bomb was placed in the toilet so inspectors could not find it.[11]

1969 also saw many riots, including one against McGill University. The RCMP had intercepted intelligence relating to the planned riots, and prevented excessive damage. This failed riot led to Mario Bachand leaving Canada, and another group of FLQ forming, which would become responsible for the October Crisis. This group, formed of Paul Rose, Jacques Rose, Francis Simard, and Nigel Hamer became known as the "South Shore Gang".