Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The FLQ and the Quebec October Crisis

The Blanc Panthers

In the autumn of 1970, as North American radical chic reached its fashionable peak, a ragtag band of French-Canadian terroristes kidnapped two politicians.

James Richard Cross
James Richard Cross

On Oct. 5, they grabbed James Cross, 49, the British trade commissioner for Canada, outside his home in the Westmount section of Montreal -- an area populated largely by wealthy Anglos. Five days later, they abducted Pierre Laporte, also 49, the Quebec minister of labour, as he played touch football with his family in Saint-Lambert, just across the St. Lawrence from Montreal's central city.

Pierre Laporte
Pierre Laporte

The kidnappings touched off a series of events known in Canada as the October Crisis. But they must not have come as a surprise to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's Canadian federal government.

Earlier that year, law enforcers had stumbled upon unfulfilled plots to abduct the American and Israeli consuls in Montreal. The plotters were from the Front de libération du Québec, the same group that pulled off the Cross and Laporte abductions. The FLQ was a familiar foe to English-speaking Canadians.

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