Text from “The FLQ Manifesto”, Marcel Rioux, Quebec in Question, 1971, translation by James Boake.
The people in the Front de Liberation du Québec are neither Messiahs nor modern-day Robin Hoods. They are a group of Quebec workers who have decided to do everything they can to assure that the people of Quebec take their destiny into their own hands, once and for all.
The Front de Libération du Québec wants total independence for Quebeckers; it wants to see them united in a free society, a society purged for good of its gang of rapacious sharks, the big bosses who dish out patronage and their henchmen, who have turned Quebec into a private preserve of cheap labour and unscrupulous exploitation.
The Front de Libération du Québec is not an aggressive movement, but a response to the aggression organized by high finance through its puppets, the federal and provincial governments (the Brinks farce 1, Bill 63, the electoral map 2, the so-called “social progress” tax 3, the Power Corporation, medical insurance – for the doctors 4, the guys at Lapalme 5…)
The Front de Libération du Québec finances itself – through voluntary taxes 6 levied on the enterprises that exploit the workers (banks, finance companies, etc….).
The money powers of the status quo, the majority of the traditional tutors of our people, have obtained from the voters the reaction they hoped for, a step backwards rather than the changes we have worked for as never before, the changes we will continue to work for. — René Lévesque, April 29, 1970 7
Once, we believed it worthwhile to channel our energy and our impatience, in the apt words of René Lévesque, into the Parti Québécois, but the Liberal victory shows that what is called democracy in Quebec has always been, and still is, nothing but the “democracy” of the rich. In this sense the victory of the Liberal party is in fact nothing but the victory of the Simard–Cotroni election-fixers 8. Consequently, we wash our hands of the British parliamentary system; the Front de Libération du Québec will never let itself be distracted by the electoral crumbs that the Anglo-Saxon capitalists toss into the Quebec barnyard every four years. Many Quebeckers have realized the truth and are ready to take action. In the coming year Bourassa is going to get what’s coming to him: 100,000 revolutionary workers, armed and organized! 9
Yes, there are reasons for the Liberal victory. Yes, there are reasons for poverty, unemployment, slums, for the fact that you, Mr. Bergeron of Visitation Street, and you too, Mr. Legendre of Ville de Laval, who make F10,000 a year, do not feel free in our country, Quebec.
Yes, there are reasons, the guys who work for Lord know them, and so do the fishermen of Gaspesia, the workers on the North Shore; the miners who work for Iron Ore, for Québec Cartier Mining, for Noranda know these reasons too. The honest workingmen at Cabano 10, the guys they tried to screw still one more time, they know lots of reasons.
Yes, there are reasons why you, Mr. Tremblay of Panet Street and you, Mr. Cloutier who work in construction in St. Jérôme, can’t afford Le Vaisseau d’or 11 with all the jazzy music and the sharp decor, like Drapeau the aristocrat, the guy who was so concerned about slums that he had coloured billboards stuck up in front of them so that the rich tourists couldn’t see us in our misery 12.
Yes, Madame Lemay of St. Hyacinthe, there are reasons why you can’t afford a little junket to Florida like the rotten judges and members of Parliament who travel on our money. The good workers at Vickers and at Davie Shipbuilding, the ones who were given no reason for being thrown out, know these reasons; so do the guys at Murdochville that were smashed only because they wanted to form a union, and whom the rotten judges forced to pay over two million dollars because they had wanted to exercise this elementary right 13. The guys of Murdochville are familiar with this justice; they know lots of reasons. Yes, there are reasons why you, Mr. Lachance of St. Marguerite Street, go drowning your despair, your bitterness, and your rage in Molson‘s horse piss. And you, the Lachance boy, with your marijuana cigarettes…
Yes, there are reasons why you, the welfare cases, are kept from generation to generation on public assistance. There are lots of reasons, the workers for Domtar at Windsor and East Angus know them; the workers for Squibb Ayers, for the Quebec Liquor Commission and for Seven-up and for Victoria Precision, and the blue collar workers of Laval and of Montreal and the guys at Lapalme know lots of reasons.
The workers at Dupont of Canada know some reasons too, even if they will soon be able to express them only in English (thus assimilated, they will swell the number of New Quebeckers, the immigrants who are the darlings of Bill 63).
These reasons ought to have been understood by the policemen of Montreal, the system’s muscle; they ought to have realized that we live in a terrorized society, because without their force and their violence, everything fell apart on October 7 14.
We’ve had enough of a Canadian federalism which penalizes the dairy farmers of Quebec to satisfy the requirements of the Anglo-Saxons of the Commonwealth of Nations; which keeps the honest taxi drivers of Montreal in a state of semi-slavery by shamefully protecting the exclusive monopoly of the nauseating Murray Hill, and its owner – the murderer Charles Hershorn and his son Paul who, the night of October 7, repeatedly tore a .22 rifle out of the hands of his employees to fire on the taxi drivers and thereby mortally wounded Corporal Dumas, killed as a demonstrator. Canadian federalism pursues a reckless import policy, thereby throwing out of work the people who earn low wages in the textile and shoe industries, the most downtrodden people in Quebec 15, and all to line the pockets of a handful of filthy “money-makers” in Cadillacs. We are fed up with a federalism which classes the Quebec nation among the ethnic minorities of Canada 16.
We, and more and more Quebeckers too, have had it with a government of pussy-footers who perform a hundred and one tricks to charm the American millionaires, begging them to come and invest in Quebec, the Beautiful Province, where thousands of square miles of forests full of game and of lakes full of fish are the exclusive property of these all-powerful lords of the twentieth century. We are sick of a government in the hands of a hypocrite like Bourassa who depends on Brinks armoured trucks, an authentic symbol of the foreign occupation of Quebec, to keep the poor Quebec “natives” fearful of that poverty and unemployment to which we are so accustomed.
We are fed up with the taxes we pay that Ottawa’s agent in Quebec would give to the English-speaking bosses as an “incentive” for them to speak French, to negotiate in French. Repeat after me: “Cheap labour is main d’oeuvre à bon marché in French.”
We have had enough of promises of work and of prosperity, when in fact we will always be the diligent servants and bootlickers of the big shots, as long as there is a Westmount, a Town of Mount Royal, a Hampstead, an Outremont, all these veritable fortresses of the high finance of St. James Street and Wall Street; we will be slaves until Quebeckers, all of us, have used every means, including dynamite and guns, to drive out these big bosses of the economy and of politics, who will stoop to any action however low it may be, the better to screw us.
We live in a society of terrorized slaves, terrorized by the big bosses, Steinberg, Clark, Bronfman, Smith, Neopole, Timmins, Geoffrion, J.L. Lévesque, Hershorn, Thompson, Nesbitt, Desmarais, Kierans (next to these, Rémi Popol the Nightstick, Drapeau the Dog, Bourassa the Simards’ Simple Simon and Trudeau the Pansy 17 are peanuts!).
We are terrorized by the Roman Capitalist Church, though it seems less and less so today (who owns the square where the Stock Exchange was built? 18); terrorized by the payments owing to Household Finance, by the advertising of the grand masters of consumption, Eaton’s, Simpson’s, Morgan’s, Steinberg’s, General Motors – terrorized by those exclusive clubs of science and culture, the universities, and by their boss-directors Gaudry and Dorais, and by the vice-boss Robert Shaw.
There are more and more of us who know and suffer under this terrorist society, and the day is coming when all the Westmounts of Quebec will disappear from the map.
Workers in industry, in mines and in the forests! Workers in the service industries, teachers, students and unemployed! Take what belongs to you, your jobs, your determination and your freedom. And you, the workers at General Electric, you make your factories run; you are the only ones able to produce; without you, General Electric is nothing!
Workers of Quebec, begin from this day forward to take back what is yours; take yourselves what belongs to you. Only you know your factories, your machines, your hotels, your universities, your unions; do not wait for some organization to produce a miracle.
Make your revolution yourselves in your neighbourhoods, in your places of work. If you don’t do it yourselves, other usurpers, technocrats or someone else, will replace the handful of cigar-smokers we know today and everything will have to be done all over again. Only you are capable of building a free society.
We must struggle not individually but together, till victory is obtained, with every means at our disposal, like the Patriots of 1837-1838 (those whom Our Holy Mother Church hastened to excommunicate, the better to sell out to British interests).
In the four corners of Quebec, may those who have been disdainfully called lousy Frenchmen and alcoholics begin a vigorous battle against those who have muzzled liberty and justice; may they put out of commission all the professional holdup artists and swindlers: bankers, businessmen, judges and corrupt political wheeler-dealers….
We are Quebec workers and we are prepared to go all the way. With the help of the entire population, we want to replace this society of slaves by a free society, operating by itself and for itself, a society open on the world. Our struggle can only be victorious. A people that has awakened cannot long be kept in misery and contempt.
Long live Free Quebec!
Long live our comrades the political prisoners!
Long live the Quebec Revolution!
Long live the Front de Liberation du Quebec!
The manifesto was issued by the Front de Libération du Québec and read over CBC/Radio-Canada on October 8, 1970 as a condition for the release of kidnapped British trade official James Cross. Text from “The FLQ Manifesto”, Marcel Rioux, Quebec in Question, 1971, translation by James Boake
1. Pretexting the political uncertainty created by the rise of the independence movement, the Royal Trust, two days before the provincial election of April 29, 1970, organized the transfer of funds from Montreal to Toronto in 9 armoured trucks of the Brink’s company. Probably as a pure coincidence, The Montreal Gazette photographed the leaving trucks and the CBC television covered the drama. The coup de la Brink’s was seen as a symbol of the various means of economic terrorism used to influence public opinion on the question of the independence of Quebec throughout history.
2. Together with the inherent flaws of the first-past-the-post electoral system, the drawing of the electoral map is one of the main sources of inequalities among voters. The first makes it so that candidates winning sometimes as little as 1/3 of the votes become members of the Quebec National Assembly (MNAs), leaving 2/3 of the voters without any representation whatsoever. This can be worked around through proportional representation. The second makes it so that unequally populated electoral districts elect and equal number of MNAs, in direct violation of the principle of the equality of voters.
3. It is not clear which tax they were referring to here.
4. In 1970, a public medical insurance was set up in Quebec. However, the system whereby doctors were paid by the number of interventions was maintained. This would have resulted in some doctors giving speedy examinations, causing errors and costing lives.
5. On April 1st 1970, Lapalme lost its contract with Canada Post. The truckers asked to be integrated to the civil servants’ body without loss of seniority. Pierre Trudeau, then Prime Minister, refused. Lead by Frank Diterlizzi, the guys at Lapalme launched a guerrilla against Canada Post’s installations. There would have been 800 attacks and 42 scabs injured. The FLQ supported this workers’ struggle by bombing a good number of mailboxes and even made the rehiring of the Lapalme workers a condition to the release of their hostage, James Richard Cross.
6. This is an allusion to a lottery created by mayor of Montreal Jean Drapeau which he had referred to as a “voluntary tax”. It served to pay down the enormous debt which Montreal contracted for building the Montreal Metro and especially later the Olympic Stadium.
9. Allusion to Robert Bourassa’s electoral promise to create 100,000 jobs.
10. The citizens of the little mill town of Cabano, in the back country of Rivière-du-Loup, took arms and neutralized the provincial police. They demanded the construction of the wood transformation factory they had been promised. It never came.
11. Le Vaisseau d’or (Ship of Gold), named after the poem of Émile Nelligan, is a venue restaurant launched by the mayor of Montreal Jean Drapeau. The restaurant was damaged during the police strike and sunk a little over a year after its inauguration.
12. This is pathetically true. Today, the citizens of Montreal can be fined if they do not throw out their garbage for pick up in opaque bags, because the whole city is a tourist area now. Back in 1970, there were a lot more “garbage” to hide: entire neighbourhoods inhabited by the poorest workers. To hide people’s misery, blue and white panels 7-feet high were prepared for the Universal Exposition of 1967. The FLQ vandalized them and in some parts one could read: “Visitez les slums!”
13. The strike of the Gaspé Copper-Noranda miners of Murdochville in March-October 1957 degenerated into violent confrontations between the strikers and the scabs protected by the provincial police and private guards. The Quebec government had proclaimed the Loi de l’émeute (“Riot Act”) after some installations of the company had been dynamited. The workers obtained the recognition of their union some eight years later, but in 1970, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against them and were condemned to pay 2.5 million dollars in damages.
14. This is a reference to the strike of the Montreal police officers which began on October 7. Badly needed to repress other municipal strikes, they were ordered back to work with a special act of parliament and promises of salary increases.
16. In 1965, a report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism revealed that the average revenue of French Canadian workers, even when bilingual like the good immigrants some wanted them to be, ranked them number 12 out of 14 ethnic groups in Canada, just before the Italian Canadians and Amerindians.
17. This would be an allusion to rumours launched by the Ottawa Citizen on why Pierre Trudeau was still single at his age. (He was 51 in 1970).