The Deputy Minister Speaks

Two rules of investigation

The first rule of investigation, Anything can happen. The second rule, Anything includes the gifts of Serendipity, a gift that, however small and insignificant it might appear to be, might well be the most important of all. Which means you must at all times be alert and pay close attention.

Which led me to give close attention to a document I happened to fall upon at Archives Canada. a transcript of the questioning of DGIS John Starnes at the MacDonald Commission, regarding meetings of 24 and 26 March 1971, led me to begin my inquiries into the murder of Mario Bachand. From my notes, and related documents, I quote:

Certain events 24-29 March, 1971

March 24 1971

Weather in Ottawa: Mainly sunny, cool and windy; Jupiter was stationary yesterday among the stars in the distant background. Today, it has begin to move.

March 24

March 24 0845: DGIS STARNES, Deputy Solicitor Ernest CÔTÉ, Solicitor General Jean-Pierre GOYER meet. GOYER orders Security Service to perform an operation. STARNES objects as being interference in running of Service, as being pointless, and as being hazardous: Security Service not capable of this. GOYER and STARNES argue for over an hour: “We had it hot and heavy for over an hour.” GOYER says that he will consult PM TRUDEAU. Reference to keeping information from “cabinet colleague ” (Minister of External Affairs SHARP).

March 26

March 26 0845: STARNES sees GOYER.

0900: STARNES erased (cancels attendance), “Cabinet committee.”

0930: GOYER at “plannification”, Parliament Hill, room 263-S.

GOYER “said that subject 24 March had been discussed with PM who directed that unless strong arguments to the contrary. infiltrate. complete secrecy. No other dept’s”.

Goyer notes re. discussion with PM.

Margaret TRUDEAU, newly married with the Prime Minister TRUDEAU, makes shopping trip to Montreal, accompanied by a woman friend and two RCMP protection officers. At a boutique at Place de Ville, she buys 9 outfits, two of which are “hot pants.” The crowd of enthusiastic onlookers and journalists will ensure that more troubling news over the coming days will be missed.

March 27

March 27 Saturday. Michèle BACHAND sees her brother Mario for the last time.

BACHAND calls DORLOT and says that he has to see him.

In Paris, Collette DUHAIME interviews BACHAND, and requests that she interview him again two days later, the afternoon of Monday, 29 March 1971.

Solicitor-General Goyer visits RCMP ‘operational site

0950-1230: GOYER visits RCMP ‘operational site’, Ville Saint-Laurent, Montreal; it is the Investigation Section, Separate Quarters, Montreal, a surveillance unit.

As prearranged, Supt. J. L. FOREST, Sub. Insp. J. J. T. R. WALSH, were picked up by an Investigation Section vehicle driven by Sgt. J. A. M. CARDINAL. This vehicle then proceeded to the home of Mr. J. P. GOYER, arriving there at 930 am. The party in question arrived at the Investigation Section separate quarters at 950 am. At the office at time were Insp. J. A. NOWLAN, Cpl. J. J. P. A. LAMBERT, S/Csts. T. E. W. MCARDLE, J. A. ARCHAMBAULT, C. R. A. PEARCE, and myself.

When the car carrying Mr. GOYER arrived, it was met in the garage by Insp. NOWLAN and myself, at which time we were introduced to him by Supt. FOREST. Since Mr. GOYER appeared to show an immediate interest in our garage facilities, it was deemed advisable to give him from the outset a brief tour of the building. In the garage Mr. GOYER examined (severed, 3/4 line) wth which he appeared pleased and somewhat intrigued. (severed, 1/2 line) was briefly discussed with him and it seemed that he readily saw the necessity and practical use that could be made of it. (…)

Amongst those present were Supt. J.L. FOREST, Sub. Insp. J.J.T.R. WALSH, Insp. J.A. NOWLAN. Briefing by S/Sgt. J. BOSSE, NCO i/c Investigation Section.

GOYER asks what percentage of resources are given to counter-terrorism. He showed interest in CROSS-LAPORTE matters, asking if CROSS found through investigation or a source.

GOYER asks if it was true that the majority of separatist-terrorists were homosexuals.

GOYER is told of how surveillance was used in a number of cases. One discussed case was that of Mario BACHAND in 1962.

Time for a party

TRUDEAU, Mrs. TRUDEAU, and GOYER attend sugar party at Saint Eustache given by Liberals. Seven hundred persons attend. TRUDEAU wears a fringed leather jacket decorated with hearts. Margaret TRUDEAU wears a large flower on her jacket. They are given a marriage gift. They stay three hours. The seven hundred onlookers find it delightful, a welcome distraction for them, and for the journalists and photographer present, who would otherwise have to attend to more troubling matters.

“Mme Margaret Trudeau a été la principle attraction d’une partie de sucre qui s’est déroulé à Saint-Joseph-du-Lac samedi. Le prime ministre et sa jeune femme étaiet les hôtes de la traditionelle partie de sucre de la circonscription fédérale de Mont-Royal dont M. Trudeau est la député à Ottawa. C’était la première fois que le couple effectuait un sortie officiel depuis son marriage, et Mme Trudeau a rapidement pris la vedette à son épouse. Elle ambrasse et fut embrassé par la majeure partie des invitées mais pendant les quatre heures qu’elle a passées dans la cabane, elle a mangé, bien sûr, sa parte de la soupe aux pois, de févres au lard, d‘omelete au sucre dérable, tenu les rênes de chevaux de son traineau en allant voir couler la sève d’érable et danse carré avec un tel entrain que son chapeau tomba. »

1030-1700: (Ottawa time) GOYER at partie de sucre at St. Eustache, cabane de P. E. LAVALLEE, for Liberal Association of St. Denis.

“Après le diner, Mme. Trudeau a passé hier près de trois heures à admirer les plus recentes importations de Paris dans une boutique de mode. »

“Memo 29.3.71 GOYER, COTE, COMMISSIONER and STARNES 26 March. GOYER ref. conversation had with COTE and STARNES 24 March. Gerard Pelletier.

Complete secrecy

Minister said that subject 24 March had been discussed with PM who directed that unless strong arguments to the contrary… complete secrecy No other dep’s.

On March 24th, 1971, Ernest COTE, the Deputy Solicitor General and I met with the Minister I believe in his office in the House of Commons. We were taken aback by a proposal he put forward to have the Security Service dispatch an agent to France with the object of infiltrating him or her into the French-Canadian student community, in Paris, and principally at la Sorbonne. I have been unable to find any record of our conversation on March 24th, although I did record subsequent conversations on the same subject. I argued strongly against the proposition on various grounds. I pointed out that the Security Service was totally incapable of operating effectively outside Canada in a foreign and semi-hostile environment. I said that while the Security Service had no written mandate, obviously if it had such a mandate it would not include operationss beyond Canada’s borders. Only an offensive intelligence service, which Canada did not have, could sucessfully accomplish what he was asking. I pointed out that the Security Service would be incapable of controlling such an agent. We had no way safely of communicating with him nore could we hope ot fund his activities at a distance of over 3,000 miles.

Such an amateur effort would be bound to be discovered in time by one of the several French Security or intelligence agencies with all that that would imply in terms of our relations with those agencies and, more important, in terms of France-Canadian relations generally. I pointed out, moreover, that it was far from clear what such an agent was expected to do. If it was simply a matter of being better informed about the activities of the more militant French-Canadian students in France, we probably could get what we wanted from those French authorities whom we still trusted and who might be prepared to help us. We had it hot and heavy for over an hour. Eventually the Minister indicated I was to do his bidding. Clearly, it was not a great issue. Certainly it was not one on which I was prepared to resign or even to risk the reasonably good relations I had by then established with the Minister. Accordingly, I agreed to do as he wished. Subsequently, I agreed to do as he wished. Subsequently, the Commissioner, the Deputy Solicitor General and I met with Jean-Pierre-Goyer at his request on March 26th to renew the discussion. I attached a memorandum dated March 29th 1971 describing that meeting together with a photocopy of handwritten notes made by the Minister in a conversation about his proposal which he had with the Prime Minister some time between March 24th and the 26th. (Appendix K)”

There was an attempt by the RCMP to infiltrate the FLQ with a man from Sudan; and McLoughlin and CBC researcher Harvey Cashore interviewed John STARNES, recorded, at his home in Ottawa and Inspector Joseph FERRARIS, recorded, at a hotel in Quebec City. However, the attempt was made in December 1971, a year later than here claimed by STARNES. More specifically, from our notes of our interview of FERRARIS and other documentation in McLoughlin’s possession:

1971 6 December: S/Insp. J. E A. YELLE travels overseas on a “special passport” to Berlin. He returns 10 or 11 December.816 In Berlin he interviewed a Sudanese man who had been in East Berlin collecting intelligence on revolutionary groups. He was brought to Montreal to infiltrate the FLQ. Controlled by Marc Leduc. Nothing came from this; he slept with FLQ women and was rejected by the men.[i]

An interesting aspect of S/Inspector YELLE’s travel to Berlin and Paris is that, while in Paris, he mailed to Algers the two incorrectly addressed or processed passports of two DEFLQ that ended up being returned to RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. Passports whose visas, arrival and departure stamps are so illuminating as to the travels of the killers of Mario Bachand.


816.  Letter from DGIS STARNES to USSEA RETTIE, 1.12.71, RG 146, box 25, 92-A-00132, p. 179.

[i] My interview with Joe FERRARIS.

March 28

Michèle Bachand and François Dorlot

March 28 Michèle BACHAND arrives at François DORLOT’s apartment before they are about to leave by car for the countryside outside Paris. She asks DORLOT if she could see her brother before leaving. He says ‘No, you saw him just yesterday.’

0930 (Paris): Someone telephones François DORLOT. He closes the door to take the call but Michèle can overhear the conversation, in which the caller asks for address of Mario BACHAND.

After the murder Michèle asks DORLOT who it was that called and why he gave the address. He replies that it was Anne LEGARE and that she had wanted to invite Mario to a party.

Recently, in March 1993, Michèle and Jacques LANCTOT met with DORLOT and asked him about this. DORLOT said that LEGARE had called him because she had wanted to speak with Mario about Trois Textes, which she was typing for him. He also said that they had appeared before a French judge after the murder. He had asked them about the call. LEGARE had denied to the judge that the call took place.

LEGARE, in a recent interview, said that she did not make such a call and had not spoken with DORLOT for about 10 days before Mario’s death.

Paris, the mysterious couple visits

March 28 Sunday 1830: Couple appears at BARRAL residence looking for BACHAND.

“Ils se sont présentés le dimanch soir, la veille de sa mort en disant que c’ètaient des Québecois qui venaient de s’ènfuir, qui avaient eu des ennuis et qui cherchaient a voir François BACHAND, parce que François était connu et qu’il pourrait peut-être les aider…Maintenant, François n’était pas ce soir-la, alors finalement on s’est arrange pour qu’ils reviennent le lendemain et qu’ils attendent un peu…”

Five persons arrested in Toronto for possession of a dangerous weapon at speech of Michel CHARTRAND in Convocation Hall of University of Toronto, which they interrupt with cries of “Death to the FLQ.” They belonged to the Edmund Burke Society.

At about 19:00,Colette DUHAIME asked Murielle PAQUIN if she would like to interview BACHAND the following day. DUHAIME said she would arrange time and place and that they would meet in afternoon in café then leave for the interview. They were both excited at the prospect of a scoop. DUHAIME told PAQUIN that BACHAND had said he was “ready to reveal things.”

March 29

March 29 0840: GOYER returns to Ottawa from Montreal.

Monday François Mario BACHAND assassinated in the apartment of Pierre BARRAL, 46 Eugène-Lumeau, Paris suburb of St. Ouen, where BACHAND had been staying. An autopsy found two .22 calibre bullets in the skull, a third had glanced off after striking near right ear.

A bullet was found in ceiling, the one that glanced off skull. BARRAL noticed hole in ceiling while with body.


One day, while at the National Library in Ottawa, while thinking of who I might approach for an interview, I thought of Ernest Côté, Solicitor-General Jean-Pierre Goyer’s Deputy Minister. He had been at the centre of many of the most important events. On the 22nd of October, 1970, at the Prime Minister’s request, he was asked to set up task force, which became the ‘COTE Group’. The task force was to examine the political intelligence, on the basis of police information, and the interrogation of prisoners held under the War Measures Act, and to prepare an assessment of the present FLQ situation for Cabinet.[i] The recent RCMP briefing of cabinet on the Quebec problem, and the FLQ problem, was disturbing to ministers because it “was information of 1969, not 1970.”[ii]

Côté’s report re Mario Bachand:

(Severed), Mario Bachand and (severed) are probably the main theorists or ideological leaders of the Quebec terrorists.” [i]MC C-76, p. 10439

Most important, Côté had been present at the mysterious 24 March meeting of Solicitor-General Goyer and DGIS Starnes, at which Goyer ordered the Security Service to perform an operation abroad, to meet a claimed security threat from the FLQ.

There was not much about the FLQ, Canadian government strategy, and views of Mario Bachand, that was unknown to Ernest Côté.

Which of course meant I had to speak with him.

Fortunately, he lived in Ottawa, at the edge of the Glebe, the tony residential area not far from the heart of the city. I called him and said I was writing about the FLQ and related matters. Could I speak with you? “Yes”, he said, and we made an appointment for the afternoon of the next day.

Ernest Côté lived in a modest house not far from Bank Street, Ottawa’s main thoroughfare. He led me to the sparsely furnished living room. There was a military camp cot. I knew that he was in Britain during the Second World War, and had landed in Normandy during D-Day. I mentioned it to him and he said he was a logistic planner, and had stepped ashore two days after the first landings. He was modest, straight-forward and objective in his manner and speech, a military officer. I liked him immediately.

I decided not to ask him immediately about the meetings of 24, 26 March 1971, but circle around by asking him about the FLQ generally and about the report on the FLQ and the unrest in Quebec. During our discussion he said the concern was not only Quebec but about the turbulence in the world generally, and the real possibility that revolutionary forces would become unmanageable. They had also been concerned about the unrest in the USA, with riots, social injustice and revolt against the Vietnam War. I then, without warning or introduction, asked about the meetings of 24 and 26 March, 1971.

Were they about the killing of Mario Bachand? I asked

“Yes”, he replied.

To make what I was asking perfectly clear, I asked “Was he killed because it was feared he would return to Quebec and restart the FLQ and FLQ violence, or was there a specific threat against Quebec Premier Bourassa in Europe?”

“Both”, he replied.

The discussion soon came to an end.

I met with Ernest Côté on three further occasions, once at the same home, two at a new residence, a very attractive condominium or apartment in or adjacent to exclusive Rockliffe. I was acquainted with the area, and saw that he was just a few blocks from where John Starnes, who I had earlier interviewed, lived.

On both occasions, I attempted to ask him about the meetings of 24, 26 March and the killing of Bachand, without response. On our last meeting, he said “You are trying to get a statement from me, but you won’t get it. John Starnes and I have been friends since 1944. But you have so much information that you don’t need it.”

He obviously was unaware of how Canadian journalists and media could avoid discussion or writing of troubling matters, troubling in the sense of posing career difficulties.

Appreciation of Recent Events in Quebec (Fifth Draft), 29 October 1970, by Ernest Cote.[i] “(Severed), Mario Bachand and (severed) are probably the main theorists or ideological leaders of the Quebec terrorists.”

MC C-76, p. 10439.

1970  November    3     COTE Group first report to PM TRUDEAU.[i]


[i].    MC C-76, p. 10439.

See also letter to Gordon ROBERTSON 3.11.70 accompanying Memorandum to the Prime Minister on the subject of the FLQ threat, PCO file reference S-1-28; RG 33/128, 6000-10-B-13, PAC AtI 93-A-00237.

1970  November    3     COTE Group first report to PM TRUDEAU.[i]


[i].    MC C-76, p. 10439.

See also letter to Gordon ROBERTSON 3.11.70 accompanying Memorandum to the Prime Minister on the subject of the FLQ threat, PCO file reference S-1-28; RG 33/128, 6000-10-B-13, PAC AtI 93-A-00237.


[i].    RG 146, vol. 2415, part 2, p. 150.


[i].    RG 33/128, acc. 1991-92/099, box 7, file C-76, p. 10445.

[ii]. RG 33/128, acc. 1991-92/099, box 7, C-76, p. 10448.

[iii].  Handwritten note, 23.10.70, RG 33\128, 5000-8-16.25, p. 302.

[iv].   RG33/128, acc. 1991-92/099, box 7, C-76, p. 10448.

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