Sunday 23 January 2011

Book: October Crisis, 1970: An Insider's View by William Tetley

In October 1970, Robert Bourassa's provincial government refused to exchange political hostages for twenty-three FLQ terrorists. By the evening of 15 October, 3,000 outraged Quebecers appeared poised to riot. Fearing insurrection, the federal government implemented the War Measures Act and jailed 497 people. Most Canadian historians cite this event as an unjustified assault on civil rights and political liberty - "The October Crisis, 1970" challenges this assumption. William Tetley, then a minister in Bourassa's cabinet, breaks the government's silence about the event and, with meticulous reference to now available documentation and passages from his own 1970 diary, reveals details of the government's decision-making process. He also points out facts that most historical interpretations gloss over: for instance, all but sixty of those apprehended were soon released, not a window was broken, and the calm that descended on Quebec and Canada has lasted for thirty-six years. Tetley addresses important questions about the crisis, successfully balancing historical interpretation and personal recollection

When I first saw this book, I thought it would be a retelling of the events of the October crisis. Instead it is a book of arguments by the author supporting the provincial and federal governments actions and why.

William Tetley was a minister in Bourassa's cabinet and does present many facts and opinions from the inside. In my opinion, the crisis was handled in the best way possible. The book does support not only the authors opinions but my own.

Although disappointed that it was not a retelling of the events of the October crisis, I did find this a very interesting and informative read.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can still vividly recall the invocation of the War Measures Act. It had an immediate impact on our family, even though we lived in Alberta at the time! It is a contentious period of Canadian history and I still doubt that a balanced account can be written. This book sounds like it may provide future historians some valuable information.