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Old Quebec separatist tensions die hard

In September, I wrote about how the province's motto, "Je me souviens," rang true on the anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham:

TORONTO, Canada — There’s a sign on my central Toronto street that has me thinking of my childhood every time I walk by: “Ball and hockey playing prohibited.” That would have had us laughing when I was growing up in a French-speaking neighborhood of Montreal’s east end. City fathers might as well have tried to ban children.

A crowd of us would gather every day after school, place hockey nets in the middle of the road and stick handle our way to imaginary glory. When a car dared insist on its right of way, we’d take our sweet time removing the nets and then form a gauntlet with just enough room for the car to slowly proceed, glaring at the driver with all the menace 10 year olds could muster. One day, in October 1970, we gave one vehicle a wide berth. It was a big green army truck. In the back were a group of soldiers, their rifles pointing aimlessly at second floor balconies. We were mesmerized. We were just kids, but we had a sense of the times.

A group calling itself the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ) had for years been waging a violent campaign to make the province an independent country. It regularly targeted symbols of Canada’s federal government and what it considered Quebec’s English “occupiers.” Everything from mailboxes to McGill University was bombed. ...

Read on here.