The QUEBEC GOVERNMENT DECIDED Thursday to call on the army to help assure public safety in a tense situation arising from the terrorist kidnappings of James Richard Cross and Pierre Laporte.
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Background: The QUEBEC GOVERNMENT DECIDED Thursday to call on the army to help assure public safety in a tense situation arising from the terrorist kidnappings of James Richard Cross and Pierre Laporte. The decision was made at an hour-long Quebec cabinet meeting and after discussion with police authorities "with the aim of assuring the safety of the people and public buildings", sad a spokesman for Premier Robert Bourassa.
Except for last Oct. 7 when Montreal's police force was on strike, it was the first time since the Second World War the armed forces had been called on for protective duties in Quebec province.
The two kidnappings carried out last week by separatist revolutionaries-Mr.Cross Oct. 5, and Mr. Laporte last Saturday-had placed heavy demands on the energies of police forces. Concern of public welfare and safety caused Mr. Bourassa to call for military support for the law-enforcement agencies.
Suspense over the fate of Mr. Cross, the British trade commissioner, and Mr. Laporte, the Quebec minister of labour and immigration, went relieved Thursday, with government and terrorist negotiators spaced 160 miles apart-one here, the other in Quebec City. Both victims are 49.
Robert Lemieux, 29-year-old legal representative of the terrorist Front de Liberation du Quebec, refused Wednesday to follow Robert Demers, 32, when the government negotiator left Montreal for Quebec City. Both men are Montreal lawyers.
Mr. Demers accompanied Premier Bourassa and cabinet members who had held emergency sessions here after Mr. Laporte was kidnapped outside his home in suburban St. Lambert, across the St. Lawrence River from the island of Montreal.
Mr. Laporte was abducted before the eyes of his wife and a nephew 40 minutes after expiration of the "deadline" set by the FLQ on the life of Mr. Cross and shortly after rans on demands were turned down in a radio-television broadcast by Jerome Choquette, Quebec justice minister.
The FLQ, however, announced later it had not carried out the death threat against the British diplomat and both the victims would be freed unharmed provided the authorities released 23 "political prisoners" and acceded to other demands, including a $500,000 "tax" in gold bullion. The prisoners were to be given a plane for transport either to Cuba or Algeria.
Premier Bourassa went on the radio for a three-minute broadcast Sunday night, calling for negotiations with the FLQ and demanding proof that the two victims were alive-proof that was promptly forthcoming in the FLQ's now-familiar mode of communication by communiques left in trash cans, phone booths and, once, under a rug.
Mr. Bourassa's decision to call in the army would probably have come as more of a surprise except that soldiers are already guarding public figures in Ottawa and were much in evidence at the opening of the federal Parliament Tuesday.
And Prime Minister Trudeau announced Thursday in the Commons he has cancelled his visit to the Soviet Union, which had been scheduled to begin Monday. An information also said the prime minister would not attend, as planned, a Liberal party fund-raising dinner in Montreal Sunday night.
Former prime minister Diefenbaker charged in the Commons the government was "abdicating its responsibility for the protection of diplomats .. by allowing Quebec to take over negotiations for the return of Mr. Cross, who-like Mr. Laporte-is a family man and widely known by his nickname, Jasper.
Mr. Diefenbaker's charge came in an exchange with Mr. Trudeau over the possibility of the government giving police emergency powers, possibly under the War Measures Act.
Mr. Trudeau said his cabinet had considered emergency powers but no decision had yet been taken and he would be glad to hear opinions from the former Progressive Conservative party leader and other party leaders.
The white House and the United States justice department have warned top government officials and members of Congress they may become targets for abduction by revolutionaries.
William B. Saxbe, a Republican senator from Ohio, suggested that the only way to halt "political blackmail" before it erupts in the U.S. is to enact legislation that would make it a federal crime for any official to give in to such blackmail.
Last Thursday, the U.S. senate passed a bill making the assassination, kidnapping or assault of a member of Congress a federal offence punishable by life imprisonment or death.
The Times of London proposes that kidnapping should be added to the list of universal crimes involving a "pledge by all participating states not to receive and harbour kidnappers who arrive within their frontiers."
"If any state broke the pledge it should then risk the kind of sanctions already envisaged for countries that harbour hijackers."