QUEBEC

October ’70 revisited

ANNE BEIRNE November 30 1981
QUEBEC

October ’70 revisited

ANNE BEIRNE November 30 1981

October ’70 revisited

QUEBEC

Like bit players in a cheap farce, participants in the 1970 October Crisis keep popping up in Quebec, hurling accusations, offering selfserving justification and divulging secrets of espionage and romance. Their varied versions of the “truth” have become standard fare, and now only the most sensational outbursts command attention. But last week had something for everyone. There were steamy revelations of sex in high places, accusations of political interference in the activities of the RCMP and inside accounts of life in the outlawed Front de Libération du Québec.

In sessions court, Judge Maurice

Rousseau began hearing pretrial evidence in the case of 17 Mounties variously accused of stealing Parti Québécois membership lists, kidnapping, pilfering dynamite and burning a barnall part of the force’s anti-terrorist activities in the early ’70s. As expected, lawyers claimed the charges were unfounded because the Mounties had just been following orders. Then, in a surprising break from the customary script, former chief of RCMP intelligence William Kelly maintained that Marc Lalonde himself had urged the Mounties to treat the Quebec government as if it were “a foreign government acting against the government of Canada.” Lalonde, now federal energy minister, was then an aide to the prime minister, Lester Pearson, while Quebec’s govern-

ment was the Union Nationale administration of Daniel Johnson.

Later, John Starnes, who was chief of the RCMP Security Service, testified that Lalonde asked him to share sensitive information on Quebec’s independence movement with the Vidal Group—a cosy coven of Lalonde confidantes who were themselves infiltrating the PQ (.Maclean’s, May 25). For his part, Lalonde responded by suggesting that the federal police force is not known for its ability to tell the truth. Referring to the McDonald commission report on illegal Mountie activities, Lalonde added, “It’s made its statements about the credibility of the RCMP.”

In the court hearing, RCMP Supt. Joseph Ferraris testified that former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa asked for help in setting up a provincial intelligence service in 1970. Ferraris claimed

that Bourassa was nervous and feared that he could not trust the people around him. Eventually, said Starnes, up to 5,000 people were investigated through the Analysis and Documentation Centre that Bourassa established. Meanwhile Bourassa, in what many see as his first step in replacing his own successor, Claude Ryan, as leader of the Quebec Liberal party, revealed that he wants to run for the national assembly again. The defeated premier denied he mistrusted „government officials, but his portrayal as a frightened leader hurt Bourassa, who has spent 11 years trying to live down charges that he panicked during the October Crisis and left Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to run the show.

Outside the court proceedings, Quebec Finance Minister Jacques Parizeau also found himself in hot water. The minister was portrayed as a prominent character in the newly published, steamy memoirs of police informer Carole De Vault.* Her literary collaborator and current companion is Globe and Mail columnist William Johnson. De Vault betrays friends, lovers, police contacts and advisers in a no-detailsspared description of her bizarre career. In a chapter called “Jacques Parizeau, mon ami” she writes: “He was older than me—we were respectively 40 and 24 years old—and he was married. But that didn’t seem important. He was older, and so more sophisticated, more experienced. And how I admired his intelligence, his knowledge of the world!”

De Vault claims that Parizeau tried in telephone calls from her apartment to set up a parallel government during the October Crisis and that he planned to include Claude Ryan, then editor of Le Devoir, and Quebec labor leader Marcel Pepin.

De Vault goes on to say that Parizeau got her a job in an oil refinery where she was partly responsible for the transfer of large sums of money. She detailed her itinerary to FLQ terrorist friends so they could rob her, then panicked and, partly on the advice of Parizeau’s wife, whom she contacted, went to the police. That set her on the road to becoming an informer—a career that netted her over the years more than $30,000 from the police plus a few thousand more from the Keable commission, the Quebec inquiry into illegal police activities. Then she turned against her cop friends. She now admits that she helped to mislead the public about police involvement in terrorist activities. Parizeau’s comment on it all?: “I haven’t read the book.”

The De Vault-Johnson tome is competing on Quebec bookstore shelves with the memories of Louise Lanctôt, one of the kidnappers of James Cross.

*Toute ma vérité, Editions internationales, Alain Stankê Liée, Montreal.

Called Une sordere comme les autres (A witch like the others), it is more excuse than apology. Lamenting her “exile” in Cuba and Florida, which followed the release of Cross to authorities, Lanctôt presents the curious thesis that she never actually fled Quebec: “Isn’t it Trudeau himself who intimidated the RCMP in Montreal to let us go into exile rather than have to deal with an undeniably political trial for the members of the [FLQ] Liberation Cell?”

At one point in her book, De Vault confides that she didn’t like hearing the tales of some co-workers because they were “essentially vulgar.” An apt comment, perhaps, on the books of both these women who felt they just had to tell all their truths about terrorism.

-ANNE BEIRNE