Tuesday, March 22, 2016

October Crisis Influence

When it comes to Canadian domestic issues, there's a rather short list of disasters that've happened.  Apart from Heritage Minutes and documentary movies, knowledge about Canadian history is sketchy at best within their own citizens, and less memorable outside Canada's borders.  The notable exceptions being major headline grabbers such as the Lac-Megantic train explosion, the École Polytechnique Montreal Massacre and Mayor Rob Ford scandal, events in Canada is usually pretty quiet around here.

One of the defining moments in my country's history was the 1970 October crisis, the effects of which are still debated and contested today.  It may seem hard to believe, but there was a time when there were national terrorists from an extremist version of the PQ (Parti Quebecois) party, actively championing for French rights.  These guys got their message across by bombing mailboxes, which made people understandably nervous.  Around the same time that home delivery mail was being phased out for community mailboxes, I made the tasteless question of asking "Where's the FLQ when you need them?"

As if kidnapping a British trade commissioner wasn't enough, they decided to up the ante by kidnapping the Minister of Labour.  From this point on, stakes are raised and tensions rise.

Pierre Trudeau executed the War Measures Act, and started rounding up all members and potential members - anybody who had potential relations with the FLQ, and had them locked up.

Upon discovery of the ambassador's death, even the people who were on the FLQ's side couldn't condone their actions anymore.  Even though many of the people who were rounded up turned out to have superfluous ties to the FLQ, there was little doubt that the tactic used was very effective.

The War Measures act was the only time it was implemented during peacetime, and while the majority of people were for its use, there were complaints later on due to the large amount of police brutality in response to a perceivable threat.  Arrested citizens were held for a week without due process, and could be imprisoned for another three weeks.  In response to rising tensions, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau uttered one of the most memorable political lines this side of Fuddle-Duddle and "A proof is a proof".

In his summary of Canadian elections, MightyGodKing wrote in his footnotes,
"It is worth explaining that Jean Chretien embodied one of the central principles of Canadian politics, which is that for all that the world thinks of us as nice and polite, we inevitably vote for whichever political leader seems like the most capable bastard. Chretien was a ridiculously capable bastard."
While in power, political leaders can be under threat of being targeted, such as Jean Chretien's late-night break-in (who was stopped by his wife) and the Ottawa shooting at Parliament Hill. However, once their term is over, they're pretty much on their own.  Unlike Presidents who continue to be guarded for life after completing their service, Canadian Prime Ministers revert back to being citizens without protection.  It's not unusual to see one shopping, taking public transportation or ordering fast food in public, though it can be a little jarring.

In exchange for the safe release of James Cross, the people responsible for the kidnapping were exiled to Cuba as per their demands, believing that the Communist Castro government would be sympathetic to their cause.  They escaped, but the reality of the Castro regime was far from their expectations.

While people were voicing loud complaints about how innocents were treated, they were strangely silent regarding the perpetrators who were left unpunished.  Just recently, around the time Justin Trudeau revived the Liberal Party away from Harper's strongarm scare tactics, one of the first laws they overturned was revoking the citizenship of people accused of terrorism.  While their intentions were in the right place, the execution left a sour taste in some people's mouths.  The general consensus was that if you committed an act contrary to the values of Canada, then you've forfeited your rights to be a Canadian, and shouldn't be considered a citizen anymore.

The FLQ didn't just target mailboxes as an outlet for their frustration.  They also performed attacks on the Montreal Stock Exchange, City Hall, the RCMP, recruiting offices and army installations.

I only bring this history lesson up because of something I recently read; Violence Jack, the most Go Nagai-ish Go Nagai Manga ever made.  Go Nagai works tend to be filled with  reprehensible leads, villains, side characters and outrageous concepts played in a sadistic cartoony manner.  Violence Jack is a post-apocalyptic Manga of epic proportions.  Japan basically goes straight to hell after huge earthquake, which leaves it a deserted wreck.  Every Mad Max cliche you can think of is conveyed here, from punk-armored wearing fetish biker gangs to plucky orphaned children to scandalous torture, abuse, and sexual threats aimed against women.  And that's not counting the flashbacks to horrendous events before the devastating earthquake that reduced all of Japan to a savage wasteland.

Around this time in 1969, there were multiple student protests and riots in Japan over campus policies and Vietnam.  Shortly after being introduced to a revolutionary group, a fugitive murderer, Saotome Mondo starts off by kidnapping an American ambassador...

...delays on giving any specific demands for the ambassador's safe return...

...starts blowing up several army outposts...

...parades the ambassador around in a tank...

...while... well, I'll let the headlines speak for themselves.

Then, shortly after the ambassador is found left for dead, the police are called out in force...

...who righteously take down the remainder of the gang, while the leaders elude capture.  (Though they're arrested later, wearing paper-thin disguises)

Violence Jack started sometime around the 1970s, and the October Crisis happened in the 1970s.
It's not entirely implausible that a documentary about the kidnapping caught Go Nagai's eye, but if it did, the timing for influence certainly fits.  It's somewhat strange to notice a distinctive Canadian influence in an otherwise nihilistic work, when the majority is largely limited to American/Japanese media.  It's like discovering an ugly unicorn in a world of My Little Shetland Pony.
Something like this.

1 comment:

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