The Death of Pierre Laporte

The above picture of the body of Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte in the trunk of a car was one which shocked the normally-aplomb nation to its core. On Oct. 17, 1970, a week after he was being kidnapped by the terrorist group Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) during the October Crisis, Laporte’s body was found at the St. Hubert Airport south of Montreal.

The Vice-Premier and Minister of Labour of Quebec, derisively called as “Minister of Unemployment and Assimilation” by FLQ, was kidnapped from his home and held hostage. The kidnappers wanted “political prisoners” to be freed; but in an unprecedentedly determined move, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked War Measures Act, which allowed mass raids and arrests. Martial law was declared, and the events that followed became known as the “October Crisis”. In response, Laporte was strangled to death, and an FLQ communiqué led police and journalists to the car parked at St. Hubert airport. I

It was the first political assassination in Canada since the murder of Thomas d’Arcy McGee a century earlier. This kidnapping–aided by the above photo, reproduced innumerably–marked the beginning of the end for the public sympathy towards the FLQ. Within two months, Laporte’s kidnappers were captured and sentenced to long prison terms.

The photo was taken by Robert Nadon for CanadaPress, and he called it, “A Terrible Turning Point.”

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