Freedom or Security? An Analysis of the War Measures Act, 1970

Essay by lisam_1112High School, 10th gradeA+, May 2009

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" Just watch me," was uttered by Pierre Trudeau on October, 13, 1970, in response to how far he would go to keep order during the October Crisis. Three days after Trudeau made this statement, he imposed the War Measures Act in an attempt to prevent a nationalist terrorist group, called the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ), from continuing with their violent revolutionary crimes. The implementation of the War Measures Act was strongly criticized as it suspends all rights and freedoms; and a debate arose between the need for freedom and the importance of security. Ultimately, the War Measures Act allowed for a secure society by focusing on the safety of Canadian citizens which, consequently, provided freedom for citizens by defending Canada's democracy from authoritarian separatists. The War Measures Act was justified during the October Crisis due to the concern for safety among Canadian citizens, the defense of democracy and the inevitable need for help from the federal government.

The FLQ committed violent crimes for their separatist cause, therefore they would not be considered as ordinary criminals, but as nationalist terrorists that Canada must defend themselves against.

The War Measures Act was not imposed merely to defend an important principle regarding negotiating with terrorists, but it was used to provide safety for the citizens of Canada. John Turner, Minister of Justice (1970), stated, "We have a series of bombings and violence, and a rising increase in thefts of dynamite..." This quotation exhibits the frequent and violent terrorist attacks that imposed fear in many civilians, and it demonstrates the need for protection from these attacks. Bombings and violence were not the only form of criminal acts the FLQ performed. The kidnappings of James Cross and Pierre Laporte shocked the public and forced thefederal government to take action against these revolutionary...