An exemplary commitment | The Journal of Quebec

How can we explain, asks Marcel Faulkner fifty years later, that young people barely entering adulthood decide “to jump into the uncertainty of clandestine action to the detriment of their studies or their career plans, and often sacrificing their personal life and compromising that of their family? “. Certainly not out of a taste for risk and adventure, he warns. Certainly, the social climate of the 1960s had something to do with it, here and elsewhere in the world.

In Quebec, the political turmoil unleashed by the Quiet Revolution was palpable and very clever would have been able to predict how far this breaking wave would take us. Everything was possible, unlike today “where social gloom and withdrawal into oneself hamper any collective ambition”.

But the social context does not explain everything, says Faulkner, you have to have certain predispositions. Such an absolute commitment to serving a noble cause – transforming the world to make it better and more just – requires a good dose of self-sacrifice, a developed sense of altruism and self-sacrifice. Also, an undeniable generosity and “a certain spirit of sacrifice”.


Marcel Faulkner grew up in eastern Montreal, near oil refineries, in the midst of a predominantly working-class population. Delinquency in various forms was part of the everyday landscape. It was thanks to the loans and grants scheme, one of the great achievements of the Quiet Revolution, that he was able to access higher education and leave his environment which was not conducive to long studies.

His first meeting with Charles Gagnon, who was to be the directing soul of the FLQ 1966 with Pierre Vallières, dates back to the early 1960s, during the time of the Quebec Student Workers. They will meet again in this new FLQ network in 1966, the time to realize that there is a long way to go from the cup to the lips of the revolution.

His definition of the FLQ is undoubtedly the one that corresponds to reality, at least that of the period from 1963 to 1966: “a rather disparate set of groups which, because they carried out actions of agitation in the shadows , propaganda and supplies, were associated with the same organization ”.

Two trends have marked the various Frequist organizations. One was inspired by liberation struggles waged elsewhere and essentially aimed at Quebec’s accession to political independence. The other trend, led by the Vallières-Gagnon tandem, associated independence and socialism. Both were aimed at accelerating the awareness of Quebecers.


Faulkner demonstrates, after the fact, how we harbored illusions. The population did not follow, nor the trade unions. “A part of the population was even quite favorable to repressive interventions against revolutionary groups. Despite a well-structured organizational image, he said, the FLQ was wrong in its analysis of the concrete situation and denoted a level of amateurism which was to lead inexorably to its demise. ”

Even so, Faulkner concludes, “The FLQ has been a first-rate awakener. In addition, it has helped the population to be less fearful of public affairs and to assert its needs and rights more “.

Fifty years later, Marcel Faulkner still remains a committed man. This is to his credit.

FLQ / History of an underground movement

Undoubtedly the most complete book on the history of the Front de liberation du Québec, a revolutionary movement which deeply marked the history of Quebec from 1962 to 1972. Louis Fournier has worked there for a long time and he delivers us here at the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the October 1970 crisis, its third edition, revised and updated. But a definitive edition? I hope not, since certain inaccuracies persist, among others about the death of Pierre Laporte. Despite everything, Louis Fournier’s work is a precious reference tool on this turbulent period in our recent history when a revolutionary movement, the FLQ, despite its failures, its mistakes, its bad moves, plunged Quebec into a deep dive. politicization like never before.

Apprehended Uprising / The Great Lie of October 1970

Lisée writes well and has continuity in his ideas. This demonstration of the “big lie” proves it. What amazes me about him, however, is that he gives police so much intelligence. The police officers I knew were not. Their main strength was their ability to compile facts and data. Point. But to explain it correctly, this information is often beyond their ability. The same goes for the politicians, they misjudged the convening power of the FLQ Manifesto, believing that the ordinary people it was addressed to would throw it in the trash of history. Regarding the Manifesto, René Lévesque will say: “He [le FLQ] had succeeded in wresting from the authorities the right to say loud and clear what many people were content to whisper quietly ”. Despite everything, to relive hour after hour, day after day, the crisis that shook Quebec, and somewhat Canada, during the months of October, November and December 1970, I strongly recommend this book by Lisée.

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