Several months after beginning my enquiries into the murder of Mario Bachand, I was living in Vancouver, returning to Ottawa from time to time to submit requests, at National Archives, under the Access to Information Act, for new files on Mario Bachand and on related subjects. Most of the files were from the RCMP Security and Intelligence (SI) Branch, others from External Affairs, Solicitor General, and the fond Pierre Trudeau. It took the longest time for the files to be processed, with the AtIP officer having to send each file to the government department responsible for the file, CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Service), who inherited the responsibilities of RCMP S&I, or the other responsible Departments. For the first few months of my research, I had available only the open literature and whatever records related to my research that had previously been released under AtIP; there was very little of the last, and nothing specifically related to Mario Bachand. I began a computerized chronology that would be the foundation of my research, and nominal files on related topics.
At the time, no media, historian, or anointed academic or other ‘expert’ in security and intelligence, no CBC or in the Globe and Mail journalist; no one in Quebec, though the Bachand affair was certainly a Quebec story of profound importance; and, for 25 years a great Canadian mystery, no one in Quebec,
Investigative journalism a new concept
In the public record, I found precisely nothing about Mario Bachand, apart from newspaper articles mentioning his death in Paris, along with the suggests of who was responsible and why. Who? “terrorists”, they said; Why? “Bachand’s difficult personality”, they said. Any evidence for these claims? Apparently not, for none was given. None of which I found persuasive.
Would two young persons travel from Montreal to Paris, to appear, with a .22 calibre pistol, apparently with silencer, at a St-Ouen apartment to murder someone they did not know, in fact someone they had never met, because that victim had a ‘difficult’ personality? I thought not.
In fact, I found precisely nothing in the public record to support the accounts given by the Journal de Montreal, Globe and Mail, La Press, Le Figaro, the CBC, or any other media, and their worthy journalists. It was clear that there had been no, as in zero, inquiries; the media accounts were clearly based on a single official source that had no relation to the facts on the ground. Not one Canadian journalist in Paris, of which there were several, took the time to board a line 13 Metro to St. Ouen – about 20 minutes – to ask a few questions. Evidently, ‘The fix was in.’ Perhaps it was fear.
“So much for Canadian journalism”, I thought to myself, for whom investigative journalism seems to have been an unknown concept.
Interest in the Mario Bachand mystery
But someone was interested. On a return to Vancouver, on a Canadian Pacific or Air Canada flight, my one suitcase, with my research documentation, was ‘lost’, as I discovered when it did not appear at the carousel at Arrivals. I approached the Lost Luggage desk and informed the clerk that “My suitcase has not arrived”, and showed my ticket. Without making a telephone call, which I found odd, he agreed. “I hope it has not on its way to Singapore or Jakarta?”, I asked, rhetorically. “No, the aircraft is still here. How long? “Until tomorrow”, he said. ” How much baggage from the flight has been lost? “Only one piece”, he said, “Yours”. So it is the only bag ‘lost’, from an aircraft that is still on the tarmac, just there, as I wave my hand. He had a sympathetic tone, which confirmed that the bag was not exactly ‘lost’, but rather in other hands. He said I would get it soon. It was delivered at my home, in Vancouver West Point Grey, that afternoon.
I have no doubt that it had been in a special room in the building where, as we spoke, persons were copying my research records.
Gee whiz technology
On my next trip to Ottawa, at my parents home, I called a friend on her cellular phone. She happened to be at Library and Archives Canada, on the public phone there on the ground floor, speaking with her daughter, at their home. Very strange, How could I be connected to the public telephone at Library and Archives Canada, hearing her speak with her daughter, at their home, when I had called her cell phone, from my parents home?
A few weeks later, I called her on her cellular phone just as she was pulling in to her driveway at her home in a distant part of Ottawa. She did not answer, but I overheard one side of the conversation as she spoke to her daughter.
All of the phones, my parents, my friend’s cell phone, her home phone, the public phone at National Library and Archives, were somehow connected.
It was obvious that there was some ‘gee whiz’ communications technology at work, work that had no lawful purpose.
Silence in Quebec
I concluded that, with the apparent attention given to my luggage at Vancouver Airport, the ‘Gee wiz’ technology, and the suspiciously parked cars, with two motionless occupants, that appeared at times outside my parents’ home, there was, in certain quarters, interest in the Bachand mystery.
One thing for certain, if I were to solve the mystery of the murder of Mario Bachand, I would make no friends. Not the academics, whose pronunciations on security and intelligence were generally devoid of content; not the journalists, who were quite happy to follow an official communications line, without question. Not Quebecers, who would not be pleased if someone from British Columbia were to solve one of the great Quebec mysteries.
Even Mario Bachand’s family and friends would say, when I approached them, “We won’t help you”. At times there would be references to my being “Anglophone” or “from British Columbia”. The way ahead looked bleak. I began to hope that my suspicions about the murder of Mario Bachand, that 29th of March, 1971, were wrong.
Of course, in that atmosphere, it was a given that, if I were to solve the mystery, journalists, particularly those in Quebec, would make the story their own. With no thanks or reference to British Columbia.
Irritated by the lack of assistance from every quarter, I said to myself, I was getting a bit fed up, “Ok, the murder of Mario Bachand belongs to Quebec. But solving the murder, if it can be done, will belong to British Columbia.
If my suspicions were wrong, and Bachand had been murdered by unbalanced felquistes, I could end my inquiries and return to a normal life: writing, studies at UBC, the occasional solitary drive on my BMW 75/5 motorcycle into the mountains north of Vancouver; solitary hikes in the the Coast Range, friends, the deep wonder of a coastal forest, heartfelt walks with my beloved Belgian shepherd, Mishka; literature, philosophy, a little bit of math, special texts, my practice. I could live with that. What’s not to like?
There was a lot not to like about long days and evenings in Ottawa, struggling with texts at Library and Archives Canada, searching for ex-RCMP Security officers to interview, and wondering why there was a car with two occupants parked outside my door for several hours. But then…
DST, La direction de la Surveillance du territoire, and Jean Rochet
I happened to call an acquaintance, a retired senior officer of France’s security service, DST, the Direction de la Surveillance du territoire. At the time, I did not know of his responsibilities, but knew he had been very high in the DST at the time of Bachand’s murder. A level just below the Directeur, Jean Rochet.
I called, he said, “I am sorry I know nothing about the murder of of Bachand.” He added, I will call Jean Rochet and ask his permission to view the files. Call me back in a week.”
The RCMP knows everything
He spoke with Rochet, who gave him permission to visit the archives at DST headquarters and consult the files on Mario Bachand. Which he did. “Who killed Mario Bachand?, I asked”
All I can say is that the RCMP knows everything about the murder of Mario Bachand.Interview of senior DST officer
My hopes of leaving my inquiries into the murder of Mario Bachand, and returning to a simple, happy life, vanished.