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Convicted FLQ terrorist dies as legacy debated

Pro-sovereignty politicians want to honour killer

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MONTREAL -- Convicted terrorist Paul Rose, who died Thursday of a stroke, is best known as an architect of the 1970 October Crisis, which saw political kidnappings and murder and troops flooding into Quebec. Now a member of the provincial legislature wants to honour him.

Amir Khadir, one of two members of the pro-sovereignty Quebec solidaire, promises to table a motion in the national assembly to that effect next week.

"This is someone who is significant to the independence movement," Khadir told The Canadian Press when asked about Rose's passing.

"You can share the reservations he had about his past in the FLQ, but no one can question his sincerity, his devotion, his integrity, his intellectual honesty."

The Parti Québécois government refused to comment on the death of Rose, 69, who was convicted in 1971 in the murder and kidnapping of then-Quebec vice-premier Pierre Laporte.

Khadir decried the government's silence about the death of Rose, who had supported Quebec solidaire in recent years.

"It shows once again the government's lack of courage," he said. "This is an important figure in the Quebec independence movement and I invite all sovereigntist members, including ministers, to publicly express their condolences."

The PQ has repeatedly distanced itself from the legacy of the October Crisis, one of the most tumultuous periods in Canadian history.

PQ founder René Lévesque was scornful of the FLQ and its members. He was appalled in 1981 when delegates to a party convention gave a standing ovation to Jacques Rose, Paul Rose's brother.

Paul Rose is best known to Canadians as leader of the Chenier cell of the Front de libération du Québec that snatched Laporte from the front lawn of his suburban home as he played touch football with his nephew on Oct. 10, 1970.

Laporte, who was also Quebec labour minister, was found strangled in the trunk of a car a week later, a day after the invocation of the War Measures Act that sent Canadian troops into Quebec to back up police who were carrying out mass arrests.

Rose died peacefully in a Montreal hospital surrounded by his wife and two children, as well as his sisters and brother Jacques, another former member of the FLQ.

"His son, Felix, and his daughter, Rosalie, read to him from Un Canadien errant (A Wandering Canadian), the poems of Gérald Godin and Gaston Miron, and passages from Nous etions le nouveau monde by Jean-Claude Germain," said Pierre Dubuc, who worked with Rose at the L'aut'journal publication.

The selections reflect Rose's past as an activist for Quebec sovereignty and the promotion of French-language rights. A Wandering Canadian is a classic song written in the wake of the 1837 rebellions. Gerald Godin was a renowned poet who became a minister in the first Parti Québécois government.

In recent years, Rose had been involved in the labour movement and advocated for convict rights. He was also a prominent speaker at a march last year in favour of Quebec students fighting tuition increases.

His nomination in 1992 as a provincial New Democratic Party candidate in a Quebec byelection prompted an objection by the federal NDP to the use of its name. Rose withdrew because he was still on parole and ineligible to run.

Rose's first forays into Canadian political issues involved more baton-swinging than ballot-casting.

In 1968, he was one of the rioters in the famed St-Jean-Baptiste Day clash that saw newly minted prime minister Pierre Trudeau staring down sovereigntist protesters from the reviewing stand as bottles flew. Trudeau won the federal election the next day.

Rose was also was one of the organizers of the McGill franßais demonstration in 1969 which called for the university to be transformed into a French-language institution. That march erupted into clashes with police.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 15, 2013 A17

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