by Don Nichols the chevron idnappings, murders, student riots, smashed computers and broken bones form of violence. represent one Damaged blood cells caused by working in improperly pressurized subway tunnels and damaged lungs caused by working in polluted mines and smelters’ represent another form of violence. During 1970 in Ontario alone, there were. 370,000 occupational accidents resulting in workmen’s compensation payments. And that does not include many of’the slow-death victims of lung damage. That’s violence. But how little attention is paid to it compared to the violence allegedly caused by the FLQ last October. That was used to justify the restriction of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Canadians. Our system is hypocritical when it condones one form of violence but uses another form to justify harsher laws and more restrictions. It may, be easier to see the hypocricy in our own system if we first look at what has happened in the United States.
US example Prior to the events of October there had been 200 bomb explosions in Quebec in the past six years. Six deaths resulted. For the U.S., in the fifteen months prior to april 1970 there had been 4,300 bomb explosions, 1,475 attempted bombings and as a result, 43 deaths, 384 injuries and 21 million doll&s in damage. New York City had a bomb incident on an average of once every other day. The americans have considerably more experience than us with violence and they are better able to both glorify and condemn it in the same breath’. Thus ‘ they glorify violent revolution providing the revolution referred to is the one which brought about an end to British colonialism in the United States. But officially they condemn revolution which might bring to an end economic colonialism. The right of all americans to bear arms and use those arms in defence of I/fe or property is considered to be aimost sacred. But when the Black Panthers decided to exercise that sacred right all hell broke. loose. The Black Panthers were clear in stating that unnecessary violence. although they I they opposed felt it was necessary to arm themselves for self defence. Suddenly those people who were such staunch supporters of the right to bear arms qualified their stand to suggest that it wasa right of White America but a crime of Black America. It is interesting to note that the panic created by the Black Panthers bearing arms far exceeded the concern about members of the Mafia doing the same thing.
Coming back to Canada and the FLQ we should consider what actually happened. It boils down to the kidnapping of two people and the murder of one. Both the kidnappin.gs and the murder were unfortunate., One is bound to feel sorry for the widow of the late Mr. Laporte. However, murder is rather common in Montreal where, in fact, the very large number of gangland murders receive almost no mention in the press. The difference in reaction to gangland murders and the murder of Pierre i-aporte is that the gangland murders are not directed towards the establishment. A similar situation exists on picket lines. The slightest skirmish involving strikers leads to headlines in the newpapers and demands for control over trade union violence. On the other hand, ‘goon squads’ wielding clubs to break through picket lines, represents an accepted form of violence. The word violence conjures up a vision of something sudden and dramatic - an accident, a murder, or a beating. There are however, many actions which are less sudden, less dramatic but equally violent. The men who were forced to work on the subway construction in Toronto without having the tunnels properly pressurized were subjected to violence. True, the breakdown of their blood cells did not reveal itself as dramatically as a bullet wound, but it can lead to an even more painful death. The men who have their lungs destroyed in the smelters and mines in northern Ontario are equally subjected to violence; We can not point and say “This man will die on such and such a day because of the violence of his employer”; but we can say that thousands of men have had ye-ars taken off, their lives because of the working conditions. . Still less idramatic, but equally violent;‘ are- the effects of unemployment. Violence to a man’s
spirit is just as real as violence to a man’s body. of When a government condemns hundreds thousands of men and women to unemployment, that government is guilty of committing violence. when the committees or Unfortunately, professors study violence and write articles on violence, they almost always refer only to the dramatic sudden forms, the kind of violence that is maintained by bullet wounds and beatings. What they are really talking about is a rather limited and very narrow kind of violence. Specifically, they are referring to violence which has not been sanctioned by the powers in our is society. By the same token, violence which sanctioned, that is, the violence of unsafe working conditions and unemployment, is not included in their definition. are More people and. groups of people We protesting the established order of things. have seen a great increase in demonstrations by peace groups, tenants associations, and community acition groups. As is bound to happen occassionally in large demonstrations, minor accidents can lead to major confrontations. Unless the police are careful to avoid unnecessary violence, the confrontation between the police and the demonstrators is bound to be violent One cannot help thinking that some police off icers deliberately provoke violent response in demonstrations in‘ order to strengthen public opinion in favor of more restrictive laws which then leads to more demonstrations and more violence. This circular process of protest and repression is familiar to trade unionists in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. It is” difficult to escape the conclusions that premiers Bennett and previously Thatcher had deliberately forced some unions With a few unpopular into unpopular strikes. have strikes to use as examples, those Premiers been able to restrict the rights of trade unions ant transfer greater power to the courts and manager? of corporations.
FLQ The FLQ crisis should be seen as just one part o the cycle of violence and repression. The curren cycle began on the eve of the June 1968 elections -You .may recall, watching the CBC televisior news that evening when the lead item showec prime minister Pierre Trudeau watching the St Jean Baptiste parade in Montreal. A tomato wa: thrown in the general direction of Trudeau ant right on cue the Montreal police moved into the crowd with clubs swinging. Although they me with no resistance, within minutes several or lookers were handcuffed by police and taken of to jail. One is forced to conclude that Trudeau wa! incredibly fortunate to have the police put on tha little show in front of him when the televisior cameras were so well placed. Or was it a wel calculated demonstration to strengthen his future -position.
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Almost overlooked by the press at the height 0’ the October crisis was the growing strength o FRAP, a working-class-based-movement opposec to the Montreal dictatorship run by Trudeay(: . crony Jean Drapeau. The powers granted by the War Measures Act were used to effectiveI\ destroy FRAP and enabled Drapeau to not only bc re-elected as ma~yor but to have a city council ful of ‘his boys’.
Anyone familiar with the history of trade unionism in Canada knows that the spectre o violence has been the rallying cry used by th( governments to gain popular support for anti union legislation. But where else can you find ( progres movement which has effected so much ~ with so little violence? Certainly there have been occasions when tradl unionists responded to violence with violence They have not always followed the ideal (?) o turning the other cheek. But that ideal has neve been widely applied in this or any other society On the whole, the non-violent record of the tradl union movement is outstanding. Still, the record of repressive legislation and e parte injunctions justified by the need to contrc trade union violence, is unequalled in any othc area. Obviously violence is just a scapegoat use to slow down social change. ’ The record-of the trade union movement place a special obligation on the shoulders of trad unionists, with their experience in . defendin themselves against phoney charges of violence I There is a need to attack the violence i,nherent i our society. Not just in the dramati manifestations but also the equaliy violent uses c poverty and unemployment.
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