Pierre Laporte (25 February 1921 – 17 October 1970) was a French Canadian lawyer, journalist and politician who was the Deputy Premier and Minister of Labour of the province of Quebec before being kidnapped and assassinated by members of the group Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) during the October Crisis. Laporte's body was found in the trunk of Paul Rose's car.
Life and career
Pierre Laporte, grandson of the famous Canadian statesman Alfred Leduc, was born in Montreal, Quebec, on 25 February 1921. He was a journalist with Le Devoir newspaper from 1945 to 1961, and was known for his crusading work against Quebec's then-Premier Maurice Duplessis. During his years in journalism, he published a number of series targeting the management of the Duplessis government. In 1954, Le Devoir ran a six-part series on problems during the construction of the Bersimis-1 generating station. In 1958, he was part of a team of Le Devoir reporters exposing the natural gas scandal, leading to the formation of the Salvas Commission, soon after the election of 1960.
After Duplessis' death, Laporte successfully ran for a seat in Chambly in the Quebec National Assembly and served in the government of Premier Jean Lesage. Laporte was a member of the Quebec Liberal Party, and considered to be a leading member of the party's left wing. After Lesage announced in 1969 that he would step down as party leader, Laporte ran to succeed him, but lost the 1970 Quebec Liberal Party leadership election to fellow cabinet member Robert Bourassa.
When Bourassa was elected Premier of Quebec in 1970, he appointed Laporte as his Vice-Premier and Minister of Labour.
On October 10, 1970, Laporte was kidnapped from his home on Robitaille Street in Saint-Lambert, Quebec, by the Chénier Cell of the FLQ. The kidnappers – Paul and Jacques Rose, Francis Simard and Bernard Lortie – approached Laporte while he was playing football with his nephew on his front lawn and forced him into their vehicle at gunpoint. They dubbed him the "Minister of Unemployment and Assimilation," and held him hostage, demanding the release of 23 "political prisoners" in exchange for his freedom. British diplomat James Cross was also being held hostage by the FLQ at the time, having been kidnapped on 5 October (Cross survived the experience, and was released on December 3).
Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau invoked Canada's War Measures Act which allowed mass raids and arrests to take place in order to find the group who had kidnapped Laporte and Cross. Trudeau said:
Nothing that either the Government of Canada or the Government of Quebec has done or failed to do, now or in the future, could possibly excuse any injury to either of these two innocent men. The gun pointed at their heads have FLQ fingers on the trigger. Should any injury result, there is no explanation that could condone the act. Should there be harm done to these men, the Government promises unceasing pursuit of those responsible.
On October 17, seven days after he went missing, Laporte's body was found. His kidnappers were subsequently captured and sentenced for his murder, and served terms ranging from 20 years to life. Laporte was buried in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Montreal, Quebec.
In 2010, journalist Guy Gendron produced a documentary series for Radio-Canada, in which he asserted that the killing of Pierre Laporte was unintentional – "Il a été étouffé dans un moment de panique [He was strangled in a moment of panic]".
Monument to Laporte
On the 40th anniversary of his death, October 17, 2010, a monument to Laporte was unveiled by then-Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest. It stands at the St. Lawrence Seaway Park, near Laporte's home on Robitaille Street. On the monument is inscribed: "Nul ne vit pour soi-même. Nul ne meurt pour soi-même" ("No one lives for oneself. No one dies for oneself").