Mario Bachand the Activist

Mario Bachand the Activist
Mario Bachand leads demonstration 16 October 1968

On the afternoon of 16 October 1968, ten thousand students from the University of McGill, CEGEP Vieux-Montréal and l’Ecole des Beaux Arts demonstrate support of striking CEGEP (Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel) students. They march under grey skies through the heart of Montreal, from McGill, along St. Catherine St. to St. Laurent Boulevard, up St. Laurent to the University of Montreal arena. They are led by the CIS (Comité-indépendance socialisme), established by Mario Bachand, who can be seen directly behind the CIS sign. Two metres behind Bachand is Paul Rose, wearing a large black hat with white ribbon, holding a cigarette in his right hand. Two years later, Paul Rose would lead the Chenier Cell of the FLQ, responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Quebec Minister of Labour, and Deputy Prime Minister, Pierre Laporte.

Among the demonstrators was a wide variety of persons who had some role in the activist spectrum in Quebec at the time. Student leaders. CEGEP students. Workers on strike. Visible are workers from the Lord Company, a steel company that had been on strike for several months.

It came at a time of worldwide, unprecedented violence and disorder.

There can be little doubt that it was scenes like this that gave the RCMP, and Canadian and Quebec authorities generally, concern about Mario Bachand. He was capable of forming radical movements, such as the CIS, and bringing them onto the street. At the extreme, as shown by the presence of Paul Rose, these events merged with terrorist violence.

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