Transcript: Defending the War Measures Act: 50 Years Later | Oct 13, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, pale blue shirt, and gray plaid tie.

A caption on screen reads "Why Canada used the war measures act in 1970. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says A HALF CENTURY AGO, CANADA WAS IN THE MIDST OF ONE OF THE MOST UNSETTLING CRISES IN OUR HISTORY. PROMPTED BY TWO KID OF KIDNAPPINGS, ONE THAT EVENTUALLY LED TO ASSASSINATION BY A TERRORIST GROUP IN QUEBEC. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INVOKED THE WAR MEASURES ACT. IT PUT MILITARY BOOTS ON THE GROUND AND TANKS IN THE STREETS IN OTTAWA AND MONTREAL. CURTAILING CIVIL LIB TERRITORIES AND ALLOWING MASS ARRESTS. AND IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT ACT WAS EVER INVOKED IN PEACE TIME. WITH US NOW TO REFLECT ON THOSE TIMES, TWO MEN WHO LIVED THROUGH IT: IN MONTREAL, QUEBEC, MARC LALONDE WHO WAS PRINCIPAL SECRETARY TO PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU AT THE TIME OF THE OCTOBER CRISIS AND SUBSEQUENTLY A CANADIAN CABINET MINISTER FOR 12 YEARS...

Marc is in his late eighties, clean-shaven and balding. He's wearing glasses and a gray shirt.

Steve continues AND IRWIN COTLER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO FUTURE PRIME MINISTER JOHN TURNER WHO WAS CANADA'S ATTORNEY-GENERAL DURING THE OCTOBER CRISIS, Mr. COULD THE COTLER HIMSELF WENT ON TO TAKE ON THOSE TWO JOBS MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND ATTORNEY-GENERAL AND IS NOW THE FOUNDER AND CHAIR OF THE RAHUL WALLENBERG CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS...

Irwin is in his seventies, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing a gray shirt.

Steve continues LET ME START BY SAYING IT'S A GREAT PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE TONIGHT TO REVIEW THE EVENTS OF 50 YEARS AGO. Mr. COTLER, WHAT WAS GOING ON IN QUEBEC IN THE 1960S LEADING UP TO THE OCTOBER CRISIS?

The caption changes to "Irwin Cotler. Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights."
Then, it changes again to "A challenging time."

Irwin says QUEBEC AT THAT TIME HAD EMBARKED ON WHAT CAME TO BE KNOWN AS THE QUIET REVOLUTION. WHICH WAS A REALLY A TRANCE FORMATIVE PERIOD IN QUEBEC SOCIALLY, ECONOMICALLY, POLITICALLY, PUBLICLY, ET CETERA. AT THE SAME TIME, THERE WERE THE BEGINNINGS OF WHAT WERE TO BECOME THE FLQ IN A LARGER SENSE THE FRONT BUT IT ALL CAME TOGETHER IN OCTOBER 1970 AND THAT LED TO THE INVOCATION OF THE WAR MEASURES ACT. AND, IN FACT, WHEN MINISTER OF JUSTICE JOHN TURNER AT THE TIME WAS ASKED WHY DID YOU INVOKE THE WAR MEASURES ACT HE GAVE THREE REASONS. ONE WAS THE KIDNAPPINGS OF THE BRITISH DIPLOMAT CROSS AND THE QUEBEC CAB MET MINISTER LAPORTE.

Two black and white pictures show a young clean-shaven man held in a small cell and a portrait of another clean-shaven man in his forties.

The caption changes to "Irwin Cotler. Former Federal Cabinet Minister."

Irwin continues SECOND. AND THIS I THINK FOR TRUDEAU WAS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT: THE FACT THAT REQUESTS CAME BOTH FROM THE PREMIER OF QUEBEC AND THE MAYOR OF THE CITY OF MONTREAL AND THEIR RESPECTIVE LEGISLATURES CALLING UPON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INVOKE THE WAR MEASURES ACT. AND TURNER BEING A FEDERALIST FELT THAT THIS REALLY PUT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN A POSITION WHERE IT REALLY HAD TO ABIDE BY THE WISHES THAT WERE COMING FROM THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED LEGISLATURE IN QUEBEC AND THE CITY OF MONTREAL. AND THE THIRD WERE THE THEFTS OF DYNAMITE AND INTELLIGENCE REPORTS THAT THIS THING COULD FURTHEST CAN A LATE. AND A CERTAIN CLIMATE OF FEAR HAD DEVELOPED IN QUEBEC. YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT APPRECIATED NOW. BUT AT THE TIME THAT THE ACT WAS INVOKED, 89 percent OF ANGLOPHONES AND 86 percent OF FRANCOPHONES SUPPORTED THE DECISION.

Steve says MONSIEUR LALONDE, I WONDER IF YOU COULD PUT US IN THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE AT THE TIME. WHEN AS Mr. COTLER SAYS THE BRITISH TRADE COMMISSIONER JAMES CROSS WAS KIDNAPPED AND IT BECAME APPARENT THAT THE GOVERNMENT, IN FACT, THE COUNTRY WAS IN THE MIDST OF A CRISIS, LET US IN ON THE DISCUSSIONS THAT WERE HAPPENING AMONG THE AND HIS CLOSEST ADVISORS, YOURSELF INCLUDED.

The caption changes to "Marc Lalonde. Former Federal Cabinet Minister."

Marc says WELL, I MUST SAY THIS WAS THE MOST DEPRESSING TIME OF MY 20 YEARS IN FEDERAL POLITICS, FRANKLY. AS YOU SAID, I WAS PRINCIPAL SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER AND CLOSELY INVOLVED IN ALL THE DISCUSSIONS THAT TOOK PLACE AT THAT TIME. IRWIN HAS PRESENTED THE BACKGROUND QUITE WELL INDEED. I COULD ONLY ADD THAT THERE HAD NOT BEEN UP TO 1970, THE BOMBINGS AND THE VARIOUS CRIMINAL ACTS THAT HAD TAKEN PLACE. SOME EIGHT PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN KILLED BY THE FLQ IN QUEBEC. THE PRIME MINISTER WAS AT FIRST VERY RELUCTANT TO INVOKE THE WAR MEASURES ACT. HE DIDN'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. AND I MUST SAY, IF I REMEMBER WELL, THAT THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE AT THE TIME, JOHN TURNER, WAS EQUALLY RELUCTANT. BUT THE ADVICE WE GOT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AT THE TIME WAS THAT THERE WAS NO OTHER LEGISLATIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE WAR MEASURES ACT. THERE WAS NO FEDERAL LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE ALLOWED TO GRANT POWERS TO PROVINCIAL AUTHORITIES AND MUNICIPAL AUTHORITIES... AND PARTICULARLY THE POLICE FORCES... TO TAKE SPECIAL ACTIONS THAT WERE NOT THE NORMAL ACTIONS THAT WOULD BE TAKEN UNDER THE CRIMINAL CODE. OH, BUT IN THE END, AS IRWIN HAS MENTIONED, THERE WAS A GREAT DEAL OF PRESSURE COMING FROM THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT AND THE AUTHORITIES IN MONTREAL WHO WERE ON THE FRONT LINE. AND THEY WERE CALLING MINISTERS, I REMEMBER Mr. BOURASSA CALLING THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA FIVE, SIX TIMES, PRESSING HIM TO ACT. THERE WAS A GREAT DEAL OF... THERE WAS AN EMERGENCY AND ACTION HAD TO BE TAKEN IMMEDIATELY. I REMEMBER THE PRIME MINISTER TELLING ME THAT IT HAD REACHED A POINT WHERE THEY WERE SAYING... BOTH THE MAYOR OF MONTREAL AND THE PREMIER OF QUEBEC... THEY WERE SAYING THAT THE POLICE WERE UNABLE TO GUARANTEE THAT THEY COULD KEEP CONTROL OF THE SITUATION AND THAT THERE WERE ACCIDENTS OR INCIDENTS, PEOPLE INJURED OR PEOPLE KILLED, THEY WOULD NOT HESITATE TO PUT THE BLAME ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR HAVING REFUSED TO SUPPORT THE POLICE AND THE ACTIVITIES OF THE AUTHORITIES IN QUEBEC AND MONTREAL TO FIND THE KIDNAPPERS AND RELEASE THEM.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says LET'S SHOW A COUPLE OF PICTURES TO REMIND EVERYBODY WHAT WAS GOING ON AT THE TIME. SHELDON WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF PAGE 2 HERE. BECAUSE BETWEEN 1963 AND 1970, THERE WERE MORE THAN 200 FLQ BOMBINGS AND DOZENS OF ROBBERIES IN THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC. SIX PEOPLE HAD BEEN KILLED.

Two black and white pictures show the Montreal stock exchange on the outside and inside, with ceiling panels falling and debris strewn everywhere.

Steve continues THIS PICTURE IS ONE OF THOSE BOMBINGS. IT WAS IN FEBRUARY OF 1969 INSIDE THE MONTREAL STOCK EXCHANGE. 27 PEOPLE LEFT INJURED. AND THEN THERE WAS THIS VERY ICONIC MOMENT...

A picture shows a line of police officers guarding Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as a parade takes place.

Steve continues THIS IS JUNE 25th, 1968. THE SAINT JOHN BAPTISTE PARADE. IT TURNED INTO A RIOT. DEMONSTRATORS TRIED TO HURL ROCKS AND BOTTLES AT PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU. THEY TRIED TO GET HIM TO LEAVE THAT REVIEWING STAND. HE REFUSED. HE INSISTED ON STAYING AND WATCHING. HE WASN'T GOING TO BE INTIMIDATED AWAY. MAYOR DRAPEAU OF MONTREAL IS SITTING NEXT TO HIM. MAYOR DRAPEAU'S HOUSE, THREE MONTHS LATER WOULD BE BOTTOMED BY THE FLQ. IRWIN COTLER, HOW SIGNIFICANT WERE THESE EVENTS ULTIMATELY IN PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU DECIDING TO INVOKE THE WAR MEASURES ACT?

Irwin says WELL, I THINK WHAT MARC SAID IS IMPORTANT TO APPRECIATE. THAT IS BOTH AS A PRIME MINISTER, TRUDEAU AT THE TIME AND THE JUSTICE MINISTER TURNER WERE RELUCTANT TO MOVE TO INVOKE THE WAR MEASURES ACT. YOU HAVE TO APPRECIATE THAT THERE WAS THIS PRESSURE THAT WAS COMING FROM QUEBEC, FROM THE CITY OF MONTREAL. THEY WERE THE ONES THAT WERE SAYING THAT THEY WERE ON THE FRONT LINES AND THEY COULD NOT CONTROL WHAT WAS GOING TO BE HAPPENING. AND THIS WAS COMING AGAINST HAD A BACKGROUND WHERE IN MONTREAL AT THE TIME, A LARGER DEMONSTRATIONS WERE BEING HELD AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTREAL IN THE STREETS. SO THERE WAS A FEELING OF APPREHENSION IN THAT THE THRESHOLD WAS REALLY THAT FOR AN APPREHENDED INSURRECTION. I WE'RE WHEN I WAS SPEAKING WITH PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU ABOUT IT BECAUSE I HAD HAD MY OWN QUESTIONS ABOUT IT. I REMEMBER HE AS IS SAYING TO ME, IRWIN, THE FACT THAT AN INSURRECTION DID NOT OCCUR DID NOT MEAN THAT IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN APPREHENDED. AND IT WAS CERTAINLY A FELT APPREHENSION IN QUEBEC AND BY THE LEADERSHIP IN QUEBEC. AND, AS I SAID, IT LEFT TURNER AND I REMEMBER TURNER ASKING THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: ARE THERE ANY OTHER OPTIONS SHORT OF THE WAR MEASURES ACT? THE ADVICE THAT KEPT COMING BACK WAS IN ORDER TO DO WHAT NEEDED TO BE DONE AT THAT POINT ONLY THE WAR MEASURES ACT WOULD SUFFICE.

Steve says I SUSPECT THE THREE MOST FAMOUS WORDS EVER UTTERED BY ANY CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER CAME AT THIS TIME AND TIM RAITH WAS THE REPORTER ON PARLIAMENT HILL WHO SCRUMMED PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU VERY SPONTANEOUSLY INTO THE OFFICE A AND HERE'S WHAT THE P.M. HAD TO-DO SAY. SHELDON THE CLIP, IF YOU WOULD.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "October 12, 1970."
In the clip, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau speaks to reporters.

He says THERE ARE A LOT OF BLEEDING HEARTS AROUND WHO JUST DON'T LIKE TO SEE PEOPLE ARE HELMETS AND GUNS. ALL I CAN SAY IS GO ON AND BLEED. BUT IT'S MORE IMPORTANT TO KEEP LAW AND ORDER IN THIS SOCIETY THAN TO BE WORRIED ABOUT WEAK-KNEED PEOPLE WHO DON'T LIKE THE LOOKS OF...

A male reporter says AT ANY COST? AT ANY COST? HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO WITH THAT? HOW FAR WOULD YOU EX FEND WITH THAT?

Trudeau says JUST WATCH ME.

The clip ends.

A black and white picture shows a teenage boy holding a copy of The Ottawa Journal newspaper, whose main headline reads "War measures act invoked."

Steve says JUST WATCH HIM INDEED OF THE WAR MEASURES ACT WOULD BE INVOKED THREE DAYS LATER. AND MONSIEUR LALONDE, I WONDER IF YOU COULD WEIGH IN ON THIS ISSUE HOW... FOR LACK OF A BETTER EXPRESSION... HOW GUNG HO PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU WAS TO EVENTUALLY BRING IN THE WAR MEASURES ACT.

Marc says HE WAS ALL ALONG RELUCTANT TO DO IT. BUT CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT INDEED, THAT WAS THE ONLY OPTION HE WAS LEFT WITH. AND HE DECIDED THAT STRONG ACTION WAS REQUIRED AND AS IRWIN MENTIONED, THIS HAD TREMENDOUS SUPPORT IN QUEBEC. I REMEMBER... I REMIND YOU THAT ALL THE ELECTED MEMBERS OF QUEBEC IN PARLIAMENT VOTED FOR IT. FROM ALL THE PARTIES. AND ALL THE ELECTED MEMBERS IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN QUEBEC DID THE SAME. SO THERE WAS TREMENDOUS SUPPORT FOR THE ACTION THAT WAS TAKEN IN THE END.

Steve says I WANT TO SHOW YOU SOME MORE PICTURES HERE, MONSIEUR LALONDE AND GET YOU TO REACT TO THEM BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT THE STREETS OF MONTREAL LOOKED LIKE AFTER THE WAR MEASURES ACT WAS INVOKED.

A montage of black and white clips shows military trucks and troops patrolling the streets.

Steve says THERE WERE SOLDIERS PATROLLING WITH RIFLES. THERE WERE TANKS IN THE STREETS. THERE WERE CABINET MINISTERS WHO HAD 24-7 SECURITY AT THEIR HOMES. IT WAS A SCARY TIME. AND I'D LIKE TO KNOW, AS YOU LOOK AT THOSE PICTURES AND YOU REMEMBER THE EVENTS OF 50 YEARS AGO, WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND.

Marc says WELL, MY FAMILY STAYED IN MONTREAL ALL THE 20 YEARS I WAS IN FEDERAL POLITICS. I HAD... I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS PRINCIPAL SECRETARY, MY FAMILY HAD A SOLDIER STANDING AT THE DOOR FOR ABOUT A MONTH AND A HALF, IF I REMEMBER WELL. I REMEMBER MY CHILDREN BEING TAKEN TO SCHOOL IN AN ARMY JEEP. THIS WAS A VERY SERIOUS, GRAVE TIME. AND VERY DEPRESSING INDEED. BUT THIS WAS... THE ARMY WAS, AGAIN, BROUGHT IN AT THE REQUEST OF THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC. AND UNDER THE PROVISION OF THE FEDERAL LAW, WHEN A PROVINCE REQUIRES CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE ARMED FORCES, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE SUPPORT. WE'VE DONE IT, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS DONE IT. MANY TIMES SINCE, BIG NOTHINGS IN VARIOUS PROVINCES. SO IT WAS THE DUTY, THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. AND AT THE REQUEST OF THE PROVINCE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGREED TO SEND IN THE ARMED FORCES.

Steve says Mr. COTLER, THE MOST SHOCKING PART OF THE OCTOBER CRISIS I WOULD SUGGEST IS THE KILLING OF PIERRE LAPORTE. ONLY THE SECOND POLITICAL ASSASSINATION IN CANADIAN HISTORY. AND I WONDER WHEN JOHN TURNER, THE MAN WHO YOU WORKED FOR AT THE TIME THE MAN FOR WHOM YOU WERE THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT. WHEN YOU FOUND OUT ABOUT IT, WHAT WAS HIS REACTION AND YOURS?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Irwin says WELL, JOHN TURNER, I THINK LIKE ALL THE CABINET MEMBERS WERE BOTH SHOCKED AND PAINED WHEN THEY HEARD ABOUT THIS. THIS WAS PART OF THE ATMOSPHERICS THAT WERE THEN RIVETING QUEBEC. YOU KNOW, I WAS AT THAT POINT, WHILE I WAS A SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR TURNER FROM 68 TO 70, I HAD THEN TAKEN UP A POSITION AT OSGOODE HALL LAW SCHOOL AS A PROFESSOR THERE. AT THE TIME OF THE WAR MEASURES ACT I WAS AT OSGOODE LAW SCHOOL TRAVELLING TO OTTAWA TWO DAYS A WEEK AND THE ATMOSPHERE WAS DIFFERENT. IN QUEBEC THE ATMOSPHERICS AS MARC LALONDE CRIED, AT OSGOODE HALL LAW SCHOOL THERE WERE THE ACADEMIC CRITIQUES OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN QUEBEC... NAMELY THAT THE ARRESTS WERE ARBITRARY, LACK OF DUE PROCESS, ET CETERA. BUT IF YOU WERE IN QUEBEC, THE MOOD... AND I WENT TO QUEBEC AT THE TIME... THE MOOD WAS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. AND I THINK AN IMPORTANT POINTED IS THAT ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE FROM QUEBEC AND THE QUEBEC MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL DEPARTMENT NOT ONLY ALL SUPPORTED THIS BUT ALL CALLED FOR THIS DECISION TO BE MADE. AND SO IF THE DECISION TO INVOKE HAD NOT BEEN MADE, ONE COULD HAVE SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN ACTING IN AN ANTI-DEMOCRATIC WAY OR IN AN ANTI-FEDERALIST WAY IN OTHER WORDS NOT RESPONDING TO THE REPRESENTATIONS THAT HAD BEEN MADE CONSISTENTLY AS MARC HAD SAID AND THAT WERE COMING FROM BOURASSA, DRAPEAU AND THE LIKE AT THE TIME.

Steve says AND MONSIEUR LALONDE, WERE YOU WITH PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU WHEN HE FOUND OUT ABOUT PIERRE LAPORTE'S KILLING?

Marc says NO, I WAS IN MY OFFICE. AND I IMMEDIATELY PHONED HIM. WE WERE BOTH DEVASTATED BY SUCH AN EVENT. FRANKLY, THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC HAD STARTED NEGOTIATIONS WITH OUR AGREEMENT ON TRYING TO GET RELEASE OF THE TWO HOSTAGES. BUT THE NEGOTIATIONS WERE CANCELLED BY ROBERT LEMIEUX WHO WAS A LAWYER FOR... ACTING ON BEHALF OF THE FLQ. AND THESE NEGOTIATIONS WERE CANCELLED, IN FACT, ON THE 15th OF OCTOBER, THE DAY BEFORE THE WAR MEASURES ACT WAS INVOKED. AND A FEW DAYS LATER, LAPORTE WAS KILLED. WE WERE TOTALLY SHOCKED. IT WAS JUST UNBELIEVABLE. WE WERE DEVASTATED BY THAT EVENT, I MUST SAY.

Steve says I SHOULD FOLLOW UP WITH THIS. BECAUSE IN THE LAST FEW DAYS, PIERRE LAPORTE'S SON HAS MADE PUBLIC THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT. HE FELT THAT HIS FATHER WAS IN SOME RESPECTS A SACRIFICIAL LAMB TO THE WHOLE PROCESS. THAT THE GOVERNMENT, IN ESSENCE, SACRIFICED HIM IN ORDER, EVENTUALLY, TO GET TO THE FINISH LINE IN THIS CRISIS. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THAT, Mr. LALONDE?

Marc says WELL, I HAVE A LOT OF SYMPATHY FOR Mr. LAPORTE'S SON. AND I CAN UNDERSTAND HIS... THAT HE IS STILL GRIEVING ABOUT IT. BUT HIS ANALYSIS DOES NOT CORRESPOND TO THE FACTS. WE ACTED IN EXTREMELY CLOSE COOPERATION WITH THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT. AND THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT. THE AUTHORITY OF THE POLICE WAS GIVEN IN QUEBEC TO THE PROVINCIAL POLICE FORCE TO SUPERVISE ALL THE ACTIVITIES THAT WERE TAKING PLACE. AND NEGOTIATIONS... ATTEMPT AT NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN STARTED AND THOSE NEGOTIATIONS WERE CARRIED BY PARTICULARLY ROBERT DEMERS WHO WAS A LAWYER RETAINED BY THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT WITH THE AGREEMENT OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO TRY AND NEGOTIATE A RESOLUTION OF THE CRISIS. BUT AS I SAID, ROBERT LEMIEUX, THE LAWYER FOR THE FLQ, AFTER HAVING AGREED TO A FIRST MEETING, THEY HAD AGREEMENT TO ANOTHER MEETING IN QUEBEC CITY ON THE 15th OF DECEMBER. AND LEMIEUX PHONED ROBERT DEMERS CANCELLING THE MEETING AND THEN WENT ON TO A LARGE GATHERING IN MONTREAL WHERE, IF I REMEMBER WELL, THERE WAS SOMETHING LIKE 11,000 PEOPLE. AND THE SHOUTS OF "LONG LIVE THE FLQ" WERE ALL OVER. AND THERE WAS A FIERY SPEECH BY LEMIEUX CALLING FOR REVOLUTION. THIS WAS THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE TWO GOVERNMENTS WERE DOING EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO GET THE TWO HOSTAGES RELEASED. AND IN THE END, WE SUCCEEDED WITH THE GROUP THAT WAS HOLDING CROSS, BUT WE NEVER GOT ANY CONTACT OR DISCUSSION BETWEEN THE GROUP WHICH WAS HOLDING PIERRE LAPORTE. ROBERT DEMERS TRIED TO TALK TO ANYBODY WHO WOULD TALK ON BEHALF OF THE FLQ. BUT THE GROUP WHICH WAS HOLDING HIM WAS OBVIOUSLY NOT CO-OPERATING AT ALL WITH ROBERT LEMIEUX. THE LAWYER WHO WAS TRYING TO... OR WAS REPRESENTING AT LEAST SOME OF THE FLQ MEMBERS.

Steve says Mr. COTLER, I'M DOWN TO MY LAST MINUTE HERE, UNFORTUNATELY, BECAUSE I'M FINDING ALL OF THIS QUITE FASCINATING. BUT AS YOU KNOW, THE NARRATIVE TENDS TO CHANGE OVER TIME. AND BACK THEN, WHILE YOU SAY THERE WAS OVERWHELMING SUPPORT FOR THE INVOCATION OF THE WAR MEASURES ACT, WITH THE PASSAGE OF FIVE DECADES, THERE'S MORE ATTENTION BEING PAID TO THE NEARLY 500 PEOPLE WHO WERE ARRESTED WITHOUT CHARGE AND HAD THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATED AND NOT ONLY THAT, SOME PEOPLE IN QUEBEC WANT AN APOLOGY FOR THOSE PEOPLE. WOULD YOU WEIGH IN ON THAT? WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THAT, Mr. COTLER?

Irwin says YOU KNOW, AS VOLTAIRE ONCE SAID IF YOU TAKE SOMETHING OUT OF CONTEXT YOU CAN HANG ANYBODY. I THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AT THE TIME AND AS MARC HAS DESCRIBED SO ACCURATELY, I THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AT THE TIME ACTED WITH INTEGRITY. YOU MIGHT SAY THERE WERE CERTAIN MISTAKES THAT WERE MADE IN THE MANNER... IN TERMS OF THE ARBITRARINESS OF SOME OF THE ARRESTS OR THE LACK OF DUE PROCESS AT THE TIME. BUT ONE CANNOT GO AWAY FROM THE RAISON D'ETRE FOR THE DECISION AS WE SHARED WITH YOU. SO I BELIEVE THAT THE DECISION MADE AT THE TIME WAS A DECISION MADE WITH INTEGRITY. AND YOU CAN LOOK AT IT THE OTHER WAY: WHAT MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED HAD THE DECISION NOT BEEN TAKEN. SO AS I SAID, AT THE TIME I THINK THAT WAS THE CORRECT DECISION. IT WASN'T TAKEN FOR POLITICIZED REASONS. IT WAS TAKEN ON THE MERITS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Steve says YES, I WANT TO THANK BOTH OF YOU FOR REVIEWING THE EVENTS OF 50 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK WITH US HERE ON TVO TONIGHT. TONIGHT. MERCI BEAUCOUP, MARC LALONDE 91 YEARS YOUNG, JOINING US FROM MONTREAL. AND IRWIN COTLER WHO IS A MERE PUP I THINK OF ONLY 81 OR SO ALSO JOINING US FROM MONTREAL. MERCI A TOUS.

Watch: Defending the War Measures Act: 50 Years Later