From time to time, I write diaries about what is happening in my home and native land, Canada.
After watching the events in Boston as police searched for the bombers I read various reactions to the way the search was handled. Some people are angry because the police didn't find them sooner, others are de-crying a "police state". This second group reminded me of a similar situation here in Canada in 1970.
The FLQ, a group of radicals who wanted the French-speaking province of Quebec to seperate from Canada had graduated from bombs in mail boxes to kidnapping. They abducted a British diplomat, James Cross and a Quebec member of parliament named Pierre Laporte. Mr. LaPorte was later found murdered, Mr. Cross was eventually released.
Our Prime Minister at the time was Pierre Elliot Trudeau. A French-speaking native of Quebec, leader of the Liberal party and one of our most popular and successful leaders ever. That being said, there were plenty of people who hated him then, and still do.
He was cultured, educated and brilliant but when the chips were down, he could be pretty tough. In response to the crisis he declared a state of emergency and called out the troops. One reporter asked him about the soldiers in the streets and he replied, "Aw, did they scare you?" It was that remark that I remembered the other day while reading about the situation in Boston.
If you would like to know more about The FLQ crisis, also called The October Crisis, here is a link:
And here is a clip of Trudeau being interviewd by a very dogged reporter, neither he nor Trudeau are prepared to give an inch. I will leave it to you to decide who won that one.
In it, Trudeau mutters his most famous quote:
"Just watch me."
Unfortunately, this video cannot be seen outside of Canada. Here is a partial transcript :
Tim Ralfe: …what you're talking about to me is choices, and my choice is to live in a society that is free and democratic, which means that you don't have people with guns running around in it.
Pierre Trudeau: Correct.
Ralfe: And one of the things I have to give up for that choice is the fact that people like you may be kidnapped.
Trudeau: Sure, but this isn't my choice, obviously. You know, I think it is more important to get rid of those who are committing violence against the total society and those who are trying to run the government through a parallel power by establishing their authority by kidnapping and blackmail. And I think it is our duty as a government to protect government officials and important people in our society against being used as tools in this blackmail. Now, you don't agree to this but I am sure that once again with hindsight, you would probably have found it preferable if Mr. Cross and Mr. Laporte had been protected from kidnapping, which they weren't because these steps we're taking now weren't taken. But even with your hindsight I don't see how you can deny that.
Ralfe: No, I still go back to the choice that you have to make in the kind of society that you live in.
Trudeau: Yes, well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed, but it is more important to keep law and order in this society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of a soldier's helmet.
Ralfe: At any cost? How far would you go with that? How far would you extend that?
Trudeau: Well, just watch me.
Here is a shortened version that should work for all:
What do you think of Trudeau's handling of the situation? Can you imagine President Obama making such a comment? Have things changed drastically in 43 years, or are politicians and journalists still the same?