298 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE VOL. 75 PART 2 MARCH 2017 Front de libération du Québec (“FLQ”) kidnapped the British Trade Commissioner, James Cross, and later a Quebec minister, Pierre Laporte. In answer to the FLQ’s demands for the release of several so-called “political prisoners”, the Liberal government, led by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, invoked the Act so as to be able to conduct various raids and detentions without warrant or charges. Sadly, Laporte was killed by his captors. Cross, on the other hand, was eventually released after lengthy negotiations. His captors received free passage to Cuba but were later returned to Canada and charged with kidnapping and murder for which they were convicted. At the time, a significant majority of Canadians supported the invocation of the War Measures Act, with opposition coming from René Lévesque and Tommy Douglas. Also at the fore of the opposition was a reporter from the CBC named Tim Ralfe. Ralfe challenged the Prime Minister on the steps of Parliament three days before the Act was invoked. For his trouble, Ralfe received a reprimand from his boss, Peter Trueman, for being too aggressive in the interview at a time of national crisis. Trueman accused Ralfe of having broken every journalistic standard he had ever heard of; however, he later regretted having criticized Ralfe and said, “I should have given Ralfe a medal.” The interview was originally heavily edited for broadcast, and it spawned Trudeau’s famous “just watch me” line. On closer inspection, the line was little more than a throwaway comment in an otherwise fascinating exchange. A review of the entire interview reveals that it was Trudeau, not Ralfe, who was combative, the former often turning the questions around on Ralfe who simply held his ground. At the end of the interview, as the microphone was being put away, Trudeau, who had stepped into the doorway at the top of the steps, came back and had a brief, almost good-natured exchange with Ralfe. Presumably he thought the microphone and camera had been turned off. They had not. Ralfe: Sir, what is it with all these men with guns around here? Trudeau: Haven’t you noticed? Ralfe: Yeah, I’ve noticed them. I wonder why you people decided to have them. Trudeau: What’s your worry? Ralfe: I’m not worried, but you seem to be … Trudeau: So, if you’re not worried, what’s your question? I’m not worried. Ralfe: I’m worried about living in a town that’s full of people with guns running around in it … Trudeau: Are you? Have they done anything to you? Have they pushed you around or anything?
March Pages 2017
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