March 17, 2013
Paul Rose died three days ago in Montreal at the age of 69. Below are two obituaries published in the Globe and Mail and the Gazette. They are cited by Pierre Dubuc, an editor of the print monthly L’Aut’ Journal and a longtime colleague of Rose, as superior to much of what appeared in French language newspapers, notably a scabrous attack on Rose published in La Presse, the largest-circulation daily in Quebec.
The Globe and Mail also published a spiteful editorial. It took aim, in particular, at member of the Quebec legislature Amir Khadir of the Québec solidaire party for announcing he would table a motion in the Quebec legislature to honour Paul Rose. According to a Canadian Press report, Khadir has withdrawn his proposal in reaction to the controversy it provoked and in deference to the Rose family’s mourning. According to the same report, the PQ government has issued no statement on Rose’s passing.
Paul Rose, 69, FLQ leader and a separatist to the end
By Tu Thanh Ha, Globe and Mail, March 14, 2013
In the autumn of life, most of the former members of the Front de libération du Québec brushed off their terrorist past as a naïve, misguided phase of their youth. Not Paul Rose. While he had renounced violence, the passage of time didn’t mellow his views, which still rang with revolutionary fervour.
“Quebec nationalism, I regret to say, is a liberation nationalism. It’s a people being denied its existence that is trying to find its place in the sun, in the same way as Palestine and Ireland,” he said a few years ago in an interview with the socialist paper Unité ouvrière. “These are long battles of liberation waged by the popular classes.”
Mr. Rose, who led the FLQ cell that kidnapped and killed Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte during the 1970 October Crisis, died Thursday (March 14). The 69-year-old suffered a stroke at Sacré-Coeur Hospital in Montreal, the magazine L’Aut’Journal, where he was a contributor, announced on its website.
Mr. Rose was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Mr. Laporte and spent 13 years behind bars before being granted parole.
To most people, the shaggy-haired, crooked-eyed Mr. Rose was the epitome of the dangerous radical, a notorious member of a terrorist group that conducted several waves of bombings and robberies before turning to kidnappings. In fact, Mr. Rose was the more cautious of the group of late-joiners who plotted the 1970 kidnappings. It was almost by accident that Mr. Laporte was held hostage. And they never anticipated the ensuing crackdown. “We expected a storm and we got a hurricane,” he said at his trial.
Still, as L’Aut’Journal editor Pierre Dubuc wrote in his paper’s death notice, within some circles in Quebec, Mr. Rose was seen as a seminal figure of the left following his actions in the turbulent 1960s. “His many friends and all labour and nationalist activists are grieving the loss of a great Quebec patriot,” Mr. Dubuc wrote. While other former FLQ members kept a low profile after their release from jail, Mr. Rose was involved in journalism and politics and worked as a union adviser.
The eldest son of a Montreal factory worker and a seamstress, Mr. Rose was born Oct. 16, 1943, and grew up in the St-Henri and Ville-Émard blue-collar neighbourhoods of Montreal. Reputedly, he took part in his first protest at 12, as a striking strawberry picker. By the mid-1960s, he was a teacher and worked with disabled children.
He joined the first major separatist party, the Rassemblement pour l’indépendence nationale, and took part in many protests, including the McGill Français movement [reference to the English-language McGill University in downtown Montreal].
He was among 290 demonstrators arrested at the infamous 1968 St. Jean Baptiste Day parade riot, later known as Lundi de la matraque (Truncheon Monday), where stick-wielding police charged the crowd after protesters burned cars and threw rocks and bottles at the grandstand where prime minister Pierre Trudeau sat.
The following summer, with his brother Jacques, Mr. Rose started La Maison du Pêcheur, a hangout in the coastal town of Gaspé that became a magnet for young people. It was there that the Rose brothers befriended Francis Simard and Bernard Lortie and formed the future core of the FLQ’s Chénier cell.
In a jailhouse interview with journalist Marc Laurendeau, Mr. Rose said that they turned to violence and kidnappings by 1970 because other forms of dissents weren’t possible anymore. “By that time, the democratic means were blocked,” he said.
The abduction of Mr. Laporte wasn’t part of the group’s initial plot, Mr. Rose told Mr. Laurendeau. They had planned to kidnap an American diplomat at the same time as British trade commissioner James Cross. However, Mr. Rose felt they weren’t ready to proceed in the fall of 1970, so he left on a car trip to the U.S. with his mother, brother and Mr. Simard. While they were in Texas, they heard on the radio that another FLQ cell, Libération, had gone ahead and kidnapped Mr. Cross, on Oct. 5. They hurried back home.
The Libération cell demanded the release of 23 FLQ prisoners. When the Quebec government refused to comply, Mr. Rose and the Chénier cell decided to act. Instead of an American diplomat, they abducted Mr. Laporte, the provincial labour minister, because he lived close to their hideout, on Montreal’s South Shore. Armed with rifles and a sawed-off shotgun, they grabbed him as he played football with a nephew outside his house.
Seven days later, Mr. Laporte was strangled and his body left in the trunk of the Chevrolet used to kidnap him. The manhunt for the killers came close to catching the Rose brothers in November, when they successfully hid in a closet while police raided a Montreal apartment. After being followed and wiretapped for days, they were eventually caught hiding in a tunnel under the concrete floor of a farmhouse.
Mr. Rose’s responsibility in Mr. Laporte’s death has always been contested. At his trial, the police produced an interrogation transcript in which Mr. Rose said the two brothers and Mr. Simard were present when their hostage was strangled. However, citing “political reasons,” Mr. Rose had refused to sign the document.
A 1980 Quebec government investigation concluded he wasn’t present during the killing. However, a police wiretap of a conversation between Mr. Rose and his lawyer caught him saying that after Mr. Laporte tried to escape, “I finished him with the chain he had around his neck.” The police officer who recorded the conversation told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Rose may have made the statement to cover up for another cell member.
At his trial, Mr. Rose got into shouting matches with the judge. “My interpretation is that this is a farce. I am playing the role of actor,” he said in court. In a famous photo, Mr. Rose raised his arm in a defiant closed-fist salute as he was being led from the courthouse. The jury found Mr. Rose guilty on March 13, 1971.
“There will always be a Front de libération du Québec as long as Quebec has not been liberated,” he said in a 90-minute address to the jury. “Long live people’s power. We shall win,” he said as he was led away, flashing a V-sign with his fingers.
A decade after his trial, in January, 1981, Mr. Rose, who had been accepted for a master’s degree program in sociology at the University of Quebec in Montreal, was denied any form of parole. Three weeks later, his mother, Rosa, died. Granted a 12-hour release to attend the funeral, he showed up in a lumberjack shirt and turned the event into a rally-like gathering, earning a standing ovation when he described her as “the mother of the political prisoners.”
The following year, Mr. Rose was granted full parole. He wrote for l’Aut’Journal and worked as an adviser for the Confédération des syndicats nationaux trade union.
He also joined the provincial New Democrats, which had split from the federal party over the issue of Quebec independence. When Mr. Rose tried to run for a provincial seat in 1991, mortified federal NDP officials considered legal actions to force the Quebec party to drop New Democratic from its name. The controversy became moot when the Quebec chief electoral officer ruled that Mr. Rose couldn’t run for office because of his murder conviction.
In his most recent notable activity, Mr. Rose gave a speech at a rally in support of last year’s student protests against increasing tuition fees. He was the leader of a fringe leftist party, the Parti de la démocratie socialiste.
L’Aut’Journal said Mr. Rose died in hospital while his son and daughter read him nationalist poems by Gaston Miron and Gérald Godin and lyrics from Un Canadien errant, a folk song about the plight of French-Canadians exiled after the 1837 rebellions. He leaves his wife, Andrée Bergeron, his son Félix, his daughter Rosalie and three siblings, including his brother Jacques.
Notes by Roger Annis:
 St. Jean Baptiste Day is a traditional day of national celebration in Quebec. The day’s somewhat anachronistic, religious origins have withered and the day is now formally the Fête national (National Holiday) of Quebec, celebrated on June 24. Five states in the U.S. New England mark Franco-American Day on that same date. Some 25% of the populations of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are of French or French Canadian origin.
 In 1837 and 1838, a democratic, reform movement rose in rebellion against the prevailing British, colonial regime in today’s provinces of Ontario and Quebec (Upper and Lower Canada, resp.). The rebellion was put down in blood and in 1840, the two colonies were merged in an effort to extinguish the deeper and nascent, nationalist side of the reform movement in Quebec. That attempt at cultural/political assimilation failed and when Canada was created in 1867, Quebec was a founding province with limited recognition of its language and historical specificity.
FLQ terrorist Paul Rose, key player in 1970 October Crisis, dies at 69
By Marion Scott, The Gazette [Montreal daily], March 14, 2013
MONTREAL — A folk hero to some, a murderer to most, Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) terrorist Paul Rose is one of the most polarizing figures in Quebec history. Rose, who spent 12 years in prison for the 1970 murder and kidnapping of Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte, died of a stroke Thursday in Sacré-Coeur hospital, surrounded by his family. He was 69.
The discovery of Laporte’s body in the trunk of Rose’s car on Oct. 18, 1970 sent shock waves of revulsion throughout the province at the height of the October Crisis, which began two weeks earlier with the kidnapping of British Trade Commissioner James Cross by a separate FLQ cell.
But in the years that followed, Rose — convicted along with his younger brother, Jacques, Francis Simard and Bernard Lortie — was portrayed in some circles as a freedom fighter whose actions dramatized the plight of French-speaking Quebecers doomed to menial jobs in a province dominated by anglophone capitalists.
While Rose admitted responsibility for Laporte’s murder, testimony at later trials raised questions about whether he had in fact been present when Laporte was strangled with the chain of his religious medal.
In 1978, 400 celebrities signed a petition in Le Devoir calling for the release of FLQ “political prisoners,” including Rose. Musicians including Yvon Deschamps, Paul Piché, Michel Rivard, Richard and Marie-Claire Séguin and Gilles Vigneault performed at benefit concerts, and singer-songwriter Félix Leclerc is said to have penned his song “L’Alouette en colère,” (angry lark) about Rose’s crusade to liberate Quebec’s working class, described as a “Hewer of wood, drawer of water/Tenant and unemployed.”
More than four decades later, the October Crisis — particularly Laporte’s murder — continues to haunt Quebecers; said historian Éric Bédard, author of Chronique d’une insurrection appréhendée: La crise d’Octobre et le milieu universitaire, published in 1998.
“The October Crisis is a wound in the history of Quebec that has still not healed because not everyone involved is dead,” he said.
“It tore Quebec apart. Quebecers were enormously polarized and it’s difficult because I think there were many who had sympathy for the FLQ’s cause, including young people, but who did not approve of its methods,” he said.
Aside from the Québec solidaire party, which issued a news release praising Rose’s commitment to “the national liberation and social emancipation of the Quebec people,” the political milieu was silent on the former felquiste’s death. In the late 1990s, Rose headed the Parti pour la démocratie socialiste, a left-wing party that later merged with another provincial group to form Québec solidaire.
Pierre Dubuc, the editor of L’aut’journal, a left-wing monthly paper to which Rose was a contributor, said Rose was a working-class hero who should be revered, not reviled. “I think he is a patriot,” Dubuc said.
“The Irish might not always agree with the republicans, but they celebrate their patriots, instead of hiding them. We seem to deny them. But that’s not true for me or for a large portion of the Quebec population,” he said.
But Bédard said that sympathy for Rose’s actions are limited to a radical fringe. “I don’t think many people, including in the sovereignist movement, regard him as a hero,” Bédard said.
“Personally, I have no sympathy for the FLQ. I don’t think that in Quebec, even the Quebec of that era, this type of action was necessary. I am allergic to this type of radicalism,” he added.
Rose remained committed to left-wing, nationalist causes and marched in student demonstrations in last year’s “Maple Spring,” Dubuc said.
“He came from a generation that was the first from working-class families to have access to a university education. He felt a responsibility to continue to defend that cause and it didn’t surprise me at all to see him demonstrate last spring for access to education, he said.
Born in St-Henri and raised in Ville Jacques-Cartier, a working class enclave of Longueuil, Rose was marked by his humble origins, Dubuc said.
“They lived in the Côteau rouge district, which was one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Quebec, where they didn’t even have sewers,” he said.
In the Gaspé region, Rose is remembered for founding the Maison des pêcheurs, a hippy-era youth hostel and drop-in centre that the members of the FLQ’s future Chénier cell started up in 1969. “For our generation, hitchhiking around the Gaspé coast was a must,” Dubuc said.
Jean-Marie-Thibeault, a CEGEP teacher who lives in Percé, met Rose in 1994, when the former felquiste showed up to support residents of a local village, Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, fighting a government plan to close the municipality. The heavy-set, soft-spoken Rose was “very calm. He had a very sober, grave manner,” Thibeault said.
After his release from prison, Rose earned a PhD in sociology and taught in Rimouski before working as a union organizer for the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).
While in prison, he met his wife, Andrée Bergeron, with whom he had two children, Félix and Rosalie. They read nationalist poems to him on his deathbed, Dubuc said.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
From a March 16 e-mail bulletin of L’Aut’Journal:
La famille Rose vous accueillera pour les condoléances ce vendredi 22 mars 2013 de 13h à 17h et de 19h à 22h.
Résidence funéraire Curé-Poirier
635, boul. Curé-Poirier Ouest
Longueuil (Québec) J4J 2H8
Tél. : (450) 677-5203