The War Measures Act, 1970 (Single lesson)

  • The Mission
  • Assessment Rubrics
  • Introduction
  • Clues
  • Resources
    • Books
    • Newspapers
    • Objects
    • Photographs
    • Maps
    • Chronologies
    • Audiovisuals
    • Extras
  • Activities
  • Teacher's Guide

The Mission

The FLQ and the War Measures Act, 1970

Terrorism shocked Canadians well before September 11, 2001. During the 1960s Quiet Revolution, the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ), a revolutionary nationalist movement, used propaganda and terror to promote the creation of an independent and socialist Québec country. Between 1963 and 1970, the FLQ was involved in no less than 200 crimes, including Bank holdups, dynamite and weapon robberies, and bombings. Six people, including one FLQ member, were killed in these violent operations. The kidnappings of British trade Commissioner James Cross on October 5, 1970, followed by Québec Minister of labour Pierre Laporte on October 10 marked a culminating point that led to the so-called "October Crisis."

On October 15, 1970, provincial and federal authorities broke off the negotiations with the FLQ, which among other things demanded the release of 23 FLQ prisoners and the broadcasting of a manifesto. Following a request of military assistance from Québec authorities, who apprehended an insurrection, the federal government of Pierre Trudeau proclaimed the War Measures Act (WMA) on October 16. Under the provisions of the WMA, the FLQ was declared illegal, civil liberties were suspended, and arrests and detentions were authorized without charge.

More than thirty years after the events, the federal response to the FLQ continues to be deeply controversial in Canada. Some approved the decision of the federal government while others opposed it.

In your opinion, why would some Canadians support the use of the War Measures Act and others oppose it?

Contextualize the series of events that led to the adoption of the War Measures Act in October 1970 and read the different newspaper articles on the use of the War Measures Act. Develop and write an essay in which you present the reasons why some Canadians supported the use of the War Measures Act and other opposed it. 


To acheive your objective, you need to adopt a historical perspective. To know more about the concept of "historical perspective" in history, consult The Historical Thinking Project


*This single lesson is taken out of the comprehensive activity found in Members' lessons.

Accept Mission


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