(Editor’s note) In her book published this week, Louise Lanctôt, member of the Liberation cell, who kidnapped the commercial attaché James Richard Cross, speaks openly.
In a first excerpt presented below, the author tells how the detention of James Richard Cross was carried out in a housing in Montreal.
In the second excerpt from her book, while in France, in exile with her husband after four years of exile in Cuba, Louise Lanctôt refers to an exclusive television interview that she gave in April 1978 to Denise Bombardier, then journalist at Radio-Canada. In this interview, she and her husband admitted their guilt, a condition for them to be able to return to Canada, where they will be tried and sentenced to prison.
The detention of James Richard Cross
For the first few days, I’m the one talking to Mr. Cross. This is my role. We decided that a female voice would be more calming. It is therefore up to me to reassure him.
I let him know from the first day that we are not going to execute him, that it would not be long. I inform him of our motives, our requests to the government, our demands. I summarized the FLQ manifesto for him.
I also ask him if he has any medication to take, but he believes at this point that everything will be over soon and does not tell us anything about it. It was not until two or three days later that he informed us of the medication he had to take.
Finding drugs with Nigel is difficult, we are all very anxious. We are afraid that he will fail during his detention. But eventually we get the drugs.
From that moment, when I tell him that everything will be over shortly, he tells me that it will take longer than we think. According to him, the government is not taking the kidnapping seriously enough.[…]
We are always in shock to have within the walls of our house a person whom we hold against their will. Reality is so different from the cause we idealized. We are feverish. I think Mr. Cross can sense our nervousness and it scares him. He is afraid that one of us will crack and that disaster will happen.[…]
Ten days after the kidnapping of the British diplomat, after having agreed to have the FLQ manifesto read by a journalist on Radio-Canada television, the government refuses to comply with our demands for the release of political prisoners.
As if it were a logical consequence of this refusal, Pierre Laporte is kidnapped. However, nothing has been programmed with the group of Paul Rose. The group was to have left outside of Montreal and do nothing, according to the agreement.[…]
A few days after the kidnapping of Pierre Laporte, during one of his outings, Jacques Cossette-Trudel meets the group of Paul Rose.[…]
Jacques Cossette-Trudel tells us at this time of the objective of Paul’s group to execute Pierre Laporte as any guerrilla group did, asking us to do the same with James Richard Cross. Jacques Cossette-Trudel explains to us that he answered them that, for his part, it was no, but that he was going to discuss it with us.
We unanimously refuse. Even though in our group discussions we claim to understand the logic of Paul’s group request, there is no question that our actions follow this reasoning.
Exile in Paris
The Information Center on Political Prisoners (CIPP) sends a member to France to meet with us. It is a lawyer who comes to confront us after having gathered the position of the various exiles facing our interview, an interview that they obviously did not see!
As soon as she entered our apartment, without even taking the time to sit down, she said to us: “Paul is telling you to shut up! “[…]
I shouted, “What! Close it to me! No one will tell me to shut it down. It’s up to me to decide when to speak and when not to speak. “
In the words of this lawyer, we are now covered in ridicule and we are completely outside the left and of course the mystique that surrounds the FLQ and the crisis of October 1970.
She asserts that our public intervention stems from political unconsciousness and that the outcome of this interview ultimately appears very negative. We have allowed ourselves to speak when political prisoners do not have the time to do so.[…]
I am still taken aback, particularly disgusted, by these felquist pranks. We had officially turned our backs on the FLQ and its action in Cuba and this new condemnation confirmed our choice.
Since the time that the felquists, whoever they are, tried to isolate us and make believe in our intellectual death, constantly seeking to exclude us, to create a vacuum around us, going as far as disinformation in Quebec on our back.[…]
Several times, we have been informed that the left in Quebec knew of our treachery towards the FLQ and Quebec. It was claimed that several groups had been warned that we had “turned our hood over” to become Marxist-Leninists in France.[…]
However, all these stories about the October 1970 crisis, these commissions of inquiry, these journalistic columns, these declarations on the left and on the right of governments and Felquists only confirm that it is time to demystify and de-dramatize this crisis, because the monopolization of the action of October 1970 that everyone makes, including governments and the secret services, deprives it of all its meaning.[…]
We are followed step by step by two men who do not hide it.
They are on our way to and from Jacques’ work and mine. I see them through the window of the bus that takes me to work. They even put themselves one morning, around seven o’clock, in a cupboard at the 14e floor which is used for the storage of safety and fire equipment.
A young man living at 14e floor comes to inform us that men are watching us and that he surprised them in the closet.[…]
Around the second week, these same people go to the kindergarten attended by Alexis and Marie-Ange to take them with them. In the evening, the nursery staff announced this visit to me, assuring me that they had even refused to tell them if Alexis and Marie-Ange were present.[…]
Jacques and I understand therefore that our head is put at a price by these felquists who have decided who are the real felquists and that they would go through the arms any person who diverges of opinion, who does not recognize “the supreme authority” , as in the guerrilla groups, and as I believe that happened for François Mario Bachand.
In short, as we do not want to “shut our mouths”, Jacques Cossette-Trudel and I, some seemed to want to make sure that we shut it down![…]
I am sure that, had it not been for this seat belt erected around us and the publication in a newspaper in Quebec of the attempted kidnapping of our children and intimidation against us, we would undoubtedly have been “eliminated. As we presume François Mario Bachand was, and as many South American guerrillas were. For simple political differences!