A politician is kidnapped from his front yard and murdered and yet the confessed and convicted murderers get only 8 years in jail. We will explore today how this can happen. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
The stamp today looks older than it is. By the 1970s, most stamps including Canada’s offered bold colors. The only hints that this stamp is newer is the font that Canada is written in and the fact that 7 cents is too much to mail a letter in the earlier period. Perhaps the bland grey portrait of Mr. Laporte was thought in keeping with a mourning period. I think this is wrong. Turning him into a bland grey figure lessens the loss of what was a brutal crime where a man was targeted based on his moderate political views and for the crime of being willing to serve his province and country.
Todays stamp is issue A285, a 7 cent stamp issued by Canada on October 20th, 1971. The stamp honors Pierre Laporte a year after he was murdered. It was a single stamp issue. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents whether it was mint or used.
Pierre Laporte was a journalist, lawyer, and politician from Quebec. As a journalist, his work was instrumental in alleging corruption in the regime of then Quebecois Premier Maurice Duplessis. Allegations of impropriety should always be taken with a grain of salt when they come from political opponents and that was the case here. Mr. Laporte was an active member of the rival Quebec Liberal Party and later served in the Quebec National Assembly and was provincial minister of Labor when the Liberal party was in power in the 60s. Though not as radical as some, the Liberal Party in Quebec broke away from the national Liberal party of Trudeau and set up separate Quebec pension and health systems and nationalized the electric utility in Quebec. What it also did was favor remaining in Canada. For this sin, Laporte had to pay with his life.
The Front for the Liberation of Quebec was a radical communist group that sought the succession of Quebec from Canada. Further they wanted to establish and independent Quebec that was francophone and only francophone and that the country be an ethnically cleansed communist worker’s paradise. They had much support from left wing types and engaged in 160 outbreaks of violence that killed eight people.
Mr. Laporte was playing football in the front yard of his home with his nephew when he was kidnapped at gunpoint. The FLQ declared him the Minister of Unemployment and Assimilation. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau feigned outrage at the kidnapping and enacted special police powers to find the cell of the FLQ responsible.
The remains of Mr. Laporte were found eight days later having been strangled. FLQ support dropped as a result of the violence but Trudeau was nowhere man when it was time to see that the perpetrators of the kidnap and murder pay for their crimes. The death penalty was not possible in Canada at the time but sentences of life and thirty years were handed out to the for men who confessed and were convicted. This was just for show. The men served an average of 8 years in jail and were even allowed to write books afterward that justified their actions and allowed them to profit from their crimes. One of the books was made into a movie partially funded by the film board of Canada. ‘Pierre Trudeau failed his people in allowing this to happen. I am sure his supporters will want to pass the buck on this but the buck stops with him.
Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open the discussion in the below comment section. I wonder if the radical that was the young Pierre Trudeau led him to secretly sympathize with the FLQ or whether Laporte was too much of a like minded rival. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.