Memo Sample: Arguments for the War Measures Act

To: The Prime Minister

From: Minister of Education

Subject: Implementing the War Measures Act and Sending Troops into Quebec

Date: January 4, 2020

Following the series of kidnappings of key government executives by the members of FLQ, you ordered for the implementation of the war measures act (Borovoy 97). I don’t support this course even though I respect the government and strongly condemn the series of kidnappings that occurred. In this memo I will seek to present my case against the implementation of this act and the plan to send troops to Quebec. I hold the government in which I serve with a lot of respect and humility, but I also sympathize with the civilians whom we serve as a government. Canadian civilians, just like the kidnapped officials deserve their freedom liberty as well as the opportunity to exercise their rights.

The implementation of this act comes at a time when Canadians are enjoying a great sense of freedom. This, to me, does not need to be jeopardized just by the government’s plan to outdo FLQ and bring back the victims of their kidnappings. This is like double trouble; adding a problem to another in an attempt to bring sanity. There are always many alternatives of addressing pertinent issues such as the kidnappings. In whichever alternative used, a goal is achieved. In the case of these kidnappings, many other options could have been used which will also solve the same problem (Borovoy 97). Among all the options, there are best practices and worst practices. To take care of everyone’s welfare, it is more prudent to use the best practices. According to me, the use of War Measures Act and sending of forces troops to Quebec is not one of them.

The act, apart from displaying a tendency of application of martial law seems to vest a lot of powers on the police. Police officers, according to the act, are given powers to arrest and detain civilians without bail. This move aimed at finding and stopping the FLQ could stir more reactions from the militia group than counteracting their efforts (Borovoy 98). A quick and merciless attack on FLQ could result in the killing of one of the detainees held by the group rather than bringing them back safely.

FLQ carried out the kidnappings accompanied by their demands. One of the demands is the exchange of the hostages for the release of detained members of FLQ and political prisoners as well as CBC broadcast of the group’s manifesto. The FLQ also demanded for an airplane to take them into exile at Cuba or Algeria (Trudeau 75). Instead of using War Measures Act which suspends rights such as habeas corpus, the government would have applied more democratic means such as seeking consensus through negotiations with FLQ or applying the National Defense Act as used earlier in 1969 and early 1970 when FLQ bombed Montreal city hall and kidnapped the Israeli Consul. At that time, the government did not use oppressive mechanisms like the War Measures act which goes overboard by requiring forces troops and the police to wage war invade and engage in insurrections. In the former incidences, about 23 FLQ members were imprisoned. These activities occurred without any involvement of insurrections, wars or invasions, but the government was able to deal with the FLQ insurgence. Now that it is about senior government officials, tougher measures are used. This is not quite an impressive way of handling the issue but is way far beyond the limits of genuine operations.

In my own opinion, and in consideration to other people’s concerns such as New Democratic Party Leader Tommy Douglas, I believe that the War Measures Act is a real threat to the liberty of Canadian Civilian especially to the citizens of Quebec. During the entire peacetime of Canada, this is the only period in which War Measures Act has been operational. I tend to be more inquisitive in this; why now? It does seem to me that you, Mr. prime minister, are over-reacting to the separatist movement in Quebec. It seems that you are more of criminalizing the movement without considering the aspect of democracy. You don’t give others the opportunity to exercise their rights and freedom. I am not trying to support the criminal actions of the movement but am just viewing the issue from a more democratic point. I tend to believe that the entire movement is not wrong but the actions of the group’s members are to be condemned, not on the basis of criminalizing the entire group but entitling each group a right to express itself. Whenever a criminal act is noted, arrests should be made on the basis of proven evidence and the criminals face court judgment. War and invasion on the entire group will lead to the arrest and conviction of innocent members of the group as well as civilians.

Flipping on the second side of the coin, I may agree that the War Measures Act is a good measure of dealing with criminal actions and administration of justice in Quebec and Canada in general. It gives the police powers to bring criminals into conviction and hence reducing incidences of future kidnappings and other criminal acts committed by the FLQ group. It is the mandate of the government to protect its officials and citizens from criminal activities of such groups as FLQ. In the sense, therefore, the government may be justified in its operations through the War Measures act. If the operation is indeed a means by which the government will sustain peace and order within its geographical borders, then it may be considered rational to engage in such an act.

However, as I have so far discussed, this act has gone over-board. It has given the police more than enough powers to carry out wars and insurrections which more often than not lead to infringement of the victim’s rights and freedom. The implementation of the act may also spill to include innocent civilians who may be arrested without bail and may go through trauma. Therefore, I strongly oppose the implementation of the War Measures Act unless it is amended to reduce the powers of the police and the forces troops withdrawn from Quebec.

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