Thursday, 14 March 2013

The death of Paul Rose - FLQ terrorist

I see from Le Devoir today that Paul Rose has died. Rose was a member of the 'Chenier' cell of the FLQ and was one of those convicted of the murder of Quebec Labour Minister, Pierre Laporte.

So far the stories about this are only quite brief. What can we make of the different photos chosen, I wonder?

Here are the images from La Presse and Le Devoir:

And here is the picture on the English language CBC:

Les deux solitudes....


  1. One obvious response is that in Quebec Rose had a life beyond the October Crisis, and thus he 'lived' up until the point that he died. In English Canada, perhaps, Rose's public presence started and ended with the death of Laporte. That explains something of the choice of images. The Globe's lengthy obituary had another picture, one of a defiant Rose, leaving the courtroom, his fist raised high in the air. The Laporte death was a tragedy, and Rose no doubt regretted his death. To this day we do not know exactly how Laporte died, and Rose quite possibly shouldered the blame in order to protect others. From the left it is certainly mandatory to question and indeed criticize Rose's judgement and the choices he made in taking certain political directions, but this, after all, is rather easy to do. More difficult is to defend Rose's principled behaviour in circumstances that he was both responsible for, up to a point, and over which he had far less control that many would assume. He remained a socialist and a reasoned critic of a lot that is wrong with contemporary society. Bryan Palmer

  2. Thanks for the comments Bryan. I'll exaggerate here, but only a bit and for effect. Seems like you're saying, 'easy to criticize a murderer; harder to defend him.' Well, yeah.

    I know you're making a more complicated argument - and your chapter in Canada's 1960s sets out the case for the wider left reading you think we ought to make of the FLQ. It's just not a road I'm interested in going down, and for good reason - especially given that, internationally, misguided idealists like Rose got into all kinds of violence in the 70s. We can look elsewhere for more principled, and better critics.

  3. Actually, you missed the point totally, and confirmed my original note that the photographs (and reflections) from French and English Canada reflect different sensibilities. In English Canada Rose is remembered ONLY as, as you then confirm, a 'murderer'. But in French Canada he had a life beyond October 1970. There is the further complication about the the murder of Laporte, which my few lines gestured to fairly clearly. Rose was convicted of murder, but whether he actually strangled Laporte is open to discussion. Statements of guilt, some think, were made by Rose to protect others. I don't know the truth; only a very few do, and some are now dead. To be sure, under the law Rose was guilty in any case, because he certainly participated in the kidnapping and confinement of Laporte. But this does not convince me that Rose can only be understood by labelling him a murderer, and discounting other aspects of his history. Of course, I make it clear I reject the political strategy Rose adopted -- that clearly lead to Laporte's death -- and that I, too, would necessarily therefore "look eleswhere for more principled, and better critics." Some of those would have been in the FLQ in 1970, but out of it and in different streams of left politics in 1975. But we would be nowhere near agreeing on who such better critics would be. And you don't say who you regard as principled. I came back to what Rose believed and lived after the October crisis, and after his prison term, which you don't gesture to at all. Just a murderer--end of story. So, my answer also would be, 'Well, yeah'. This pretty much confirms the point I opened with.