Prior to the
October crisis, Canada had never experienced a terrorist threat so extreme. It
was this event that changed the way that the government handled national
emergencies. The FLQ kidnapped James Cross on the 5th of October,
1970 and sent a ransom note to police later that day. In exchange for Cross’
release, the FLQ demanded $500,000 in ransom, safe passage for its members to Cuba
and the release of twenty-three of its members from custody. The Quebec
government agreed to all of these terms, except to the release of the prisoners.
Angered, The FLQ retaliated by kidnapping the Pierre Laporte, the minister of
labour. The FLQ warned the Quebec premier that Laporte would be killed if all the
demands were not met. It was at this point that the Quebec government turned to
Ottawa for help. The October crisis marked the first time that the War Measures
Act (WMA) was implemented during peacetime. On the 15th of October,
1970, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau sent the Canadian military to Quebec to
help protect the public and stop the FLQ. Suddenly, there were policemen, soldiers
and tanks alike roaming the streets of Quebec. They arrested 450 people that
they suspected of being members of the FLQ however, only 62 were convicted. The
next day, October 16th, 1970, Trudeau brought the war measures act into
effect. This act gave the government more power by allowing law enforcement to
conduct searches without warrants and make arrests without any clear reason. This
decision was monumental as well as very controversial as many French-Canadians
said that the government had given up democratic ideals by turning the province
into a police state. The October crisis also led to the creation of a new act
and marked the last time that the WMA would be used. Trudeau called an end to
the WMA on April 30th, 1971, and on July 21st, 1988, the
Emergencies act was passed to replace it. The government had learned an important
lesson from the October crisis and took that into account when making the new
act. The Emergencies Act ensures that people will not lose their rights and
freedoms in the event of a national emergency. The October crisis 

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