Archive | 50 years ago, the RCMP illegally seized the list of members of the Parti Québécois

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Archives | 50 years ago, the RCMP illegally seized the list of members of the Parti Québécois

On October 28, 1977, the Solicitor General of Canada, Francis Fox, revealed that the RCMP had stolen the list of 100,000 members of the PQ on the night of January 8 to 9, 1973.

In October 1977, the Solicitor General of Canada Francis Fox revealed to the House of Commons in Ottawa that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had illegally seized the list of members of the Parti Québécois on January 9, 1973. Our archives bear witness to the storm raised at the time by what was dubbed by RCMP security services “Operation HAM”.

On October 28, 1977, journalist Madeleine Poulin presented a report recounting the events.

Report by Madeleine Poulin on the Solicitor General's revelation that the RCMP stole the list of Parti Québécois members on the night of January 8 to 9, 1973. The newscast is hosted by Normand Harvey.

On the night of January 8 to 9, 1973, RCMP officers entered a premises on rue Jeanne-Mance in Montreal and stole electronic tapes containing the list members of the PQ. After copying them, they put them back a few hours later.

The burglary is ordered by the Director General of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, John Starnes. Then-solicitor general Warren Allmand says he was never told. Same thing for Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

“As soon as we learned that they were exercising a surveillance on a legally constituted political party, I took it upon myself to say: stop this surveillance. And they arrested her. »

—Pierre Elliott Trudeau

The opposition parties are totally outraged following this revelation.

The Conservative MP for Joliette, Roch LaSalle, finds it hard to understand the state of calm with which the Solicitor General reacted to this information.

“I'm not troubled, I'm terrified. The auditor general seems to agree with the mounted police that there is no difference between a member of the FLQ and a member of the Parti Québécois. »

— Roch LaSalle

On November 1, 1977, host Normand Harvey presents to Téléjournal the reaction of the Premier of Quebec, René Lévesque .

Reaction of the Premier of Quebec René Lévesque after the disclosure by the Solicitor General of Canada of the break-in and theft committed by the RCMP in the offices of the PQ in Montreal. The news bulletin is moderated by Normand Harvey.

The leader of the Parti Québécois believes that Prime Minister Trudeau should clean up the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“The Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Trudeau, has always championed individual freedoms, the fundamental civil liberties of citizens. If I saw myself caught as Mr. Trudeau and his government are now, with a police apparatus apparently as crazy as the RCMP has become, I would be very worried. »

— René Lévesque

Following two public inquiries: the Keable Commission in Quebec (1977) and the McDonald Commission in Canada (1978), a trial took place in 1981 against the RCMP officers who stole the list of members of the Parti Québécois in 1973 Only one agent will be charged.

These commissions of inquiry revealed that following the October 1970 Crisis, as part of the fight against terrorism in Quebec between 1971 and 1973, the RCMP Security Service acted illegally against individuals or groups associated with the Quebec independence movement.

Among other things, RCMP officers set fire to a barn, issued false press releases and stole the files of the Free Press Agency in 1972.

In 1992, the controversy was revived. We learn that the theft of the list of PQ members in 1973 may have been part of a series of illegal clandestine operations approved by the Trudeau cabinet to fight against the independence movement in Quebec.

Indeed, in March 1992, the notes and documents submitted to the McDonald commission became accessible to the public. Testimonies given at the time behind closed doors are revealed.

That of John Starnes, the director of RCMP security services who orchestrated the theft in 1973, speaks of a meeting in 1969 with members of the Trudeau cabinet where he was asked to gather information on the independence movements.

Report by journalist Normand Lester on new revelations concerning illegal acts by the RCMP against the independence movement in Quebec. The newscast is hosted by Charles Tisseyre.

Journalist Normand Lester reveals in this report presented to TéléjournalMarch 21, 1992 information from documents of which Radio-Canada obtained a copy under the Access to Information Act.

The documents are widely censored, but they nevertheless reveal the federal government's request for information on the independence movement.

The federal government then wanted to identify the independentists within the army and the federal civil service .

In Normand Lester's report, John Starnes, former director of security services for the RCMP from 1967 to 1973, can be heard mentioning that it was Marc Lalonde, Prime Minister Trudeau's chief of staff in the 1970s, who wanted to create such an intelligence service.

On March 25, 1992, John Starnes published a statement in the English-language press saying that he had never received a specific order from the government to go grab the list of members of the Parti Québécois.

Report by Daniel L'Heureux on three chapters of the report of the McDonald commission on the illegal activities of the RCMP in Quebec in the 70s rendered public.

On April 13, 1992, journalist Daniel L'Heureux presents a report that mentions that several police officers had come to tell the McDonald commission that the federal government was exerting strong pressure on them order that the RCMP keep an eye on the separatist movement.

“Whatever interpretation the federal police has given to the government's expectations, says the McDonald commission, there is no evidence that the political power has asked it to perform illegal acts. »

— Daniel L'heureux

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