In October 1970, Robert Bourassa's provincial government refused to exchange political hostages for twenty-three FLQ terrorists. By the evening of 15 October, 3,000 outraged Quebecers appeared poised to riot. Fearing insurrection, the federal government implemented the War Measures Act and jailed 497 people. Most Canadian historians cite this event as an unjustified assault on civil rights and political liberty - The October Crisis, 1970 challenges this assumption. William Tetley, then a minister in Bourassa's cabinet, breaks the government's silence about the event and, with meticulous reference to now available documentation and passages from his own 1970 diary, reveals details of the government's decision-making process. He also points out facts that most historical interpretations gloss over: for instance, all but sixty of those apprehended were soon released, not a window was broken, and the calm that descended on Quebec and Canada has lasted for four decades.
William Tetley, professor of international law, McGill University, was serving as a minister in Robert Bourassa's cabinet when the October Crisis broke out.