When is an apology appropriate? When do they become almost trite? What about those that are not followed up on? Ask the Aboriginal community

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 30th, 2020



It’s Justin’s own fault. Unlike some other world leaders, notably GW Bush, Mr. Trudeau’s name became synonymous with ‘I’m sorry’.

Another day, another mea culpa. Residential schools, LGBT discrimination, turning away refugees – those were the easy ones. Somebody else was responsible for those mistakes. Justin even apologized for the Pope not apologizing over the role Catholics played in the residential school disgrace.

Jstin in black face

Was this the object of the first apology or was that the trip to India?

And then there were the occasions he goofed up: that vacation with the Aga Khan, brown-face gate, and the WE fiasco. And some would say he should have even apologized for his choice of costume while visiting India. But he balked when Jody Wilson-Rayboult (JWR) demanded he apologize for clarifying her place in the political pecking order. Instead he got rid of her and also her mutinous buddy Jane Philpott, who wanted him to apologize for not apologizing to JWR.

So Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has asked Justin to also apologize for the War Measures Act, which his father reluctantly imposed to rout and eliminate Canada’s homegrown terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). Well heck, Brian Mulroney had apologized for correcting an earlier War Measures action, the internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII. In fact, he paid out $21,000 per internee and re-instated the citizenship of those deported.

Perhaps Blanchet is also looking for compensation for the 500 or so FLQ suspects who were later released without charge – or those who weren’t? Who knows? So even the opposition Conservatives are not giving him any encouragement.

Blanchet was five years old at the time the War Measures Act (WMA) was imposed for the very first time in peacetime, and for the last time before it was re-labelled the Emergencies Act. So perhaps he doesn’t clearly remember all the events of that period.

There was this reign of terror going back to 1963. The FLQ blew up mail boxes and buildings, attacked military bases to steal weapons, attempted to sabotage a train carrying former PM John Diefenbaker and robbed banks to finance themselves. There was Soviet KGB involvement, and FLQ operatives had been trained in military camps by the Palestinian PLO and other organizations deemed terrorist back then.

War Measures Troops on streets

Troops were on the streets in Montreal with close to 500 arrested without a warrant. The tension was very high in the province of Quebec

By 1970 the FLQ had 7 deaths on their hands including a Minister in the government of Robert Bourassa. Before they were eliminated they had rung up an impressive list of violent acts, (see link below). In all there were more than 200 bombings and dozens of robberies by this dis-aggregated, but well organized and highly motivated, group with a single goal in mind.

Pierre Trudeau only reluctantly imposed the War Measures Act, and only after Quebec’s premier and the mayor of Montreal had formally requested that the federal government to do so. Trudeau then took the decision to Parliament where it received near unanimous approval, including support from the major opposition party leaders.

Almost all Canadians supported the action which wiped out the FLQ, including 86% of Quebecers. The measures abrogated Canada’s Bill of Rights and included unwarranted search and arrests. But it was effective and ended only a few months later, in early 1971. And there were no documented casualties as a result of the Canadian military and police actions.

But most important, the FLQ and its reign of terror had been completely eliminated. So which Quebecers in Mr. Blanchet’s mind should Mr. Trudeau be apologizing to? Though perhaps someone needs to apologize to those who became victims of the FLQ’s reign of terror.

Background links:

Trudeau’s Mea Culpas      Blanchet’s Request –      FLQ Timeline – 

History of War Measures Act –    Opinion in Retrospect –     Read My Book

No Need to Apologize

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes frequently on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

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