Marc Carbonneau was the driver of a taxi that pulled up on Redpath Crescent one morning in October 1970. His passengers were fellow members of the Front de Libération du Québec, which aimed to gain independence for Quebec by means of armed struggle. In the act that kicked off what came to be known as the October Crisis, the group kidnapped James Cross, a British diplomat, from his home and held him at a secret location.After two months, Cross was released in return for the kidnappers’ safe passage to Cuba. Meanwhile, another FLQ cell had kidnapped and killed Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte.On May 26, 1981, we covered Carbonneau’s return to Quebec after more than 10 years in Cuba and France. This photo by George Bird, which appeared on Page 1, shows Carbonneau — he’s the one not wearing a suit — just after his arrival at Mirabel airport on a regular Air Canada flight from Paris. It was a 747, and he had been seated in the upper lounge, with his police escort and other passengers. He cleared Customs on the plane, and then was immediately arrested and taken for questioning, we reported.As expected, Carbonneau, then 47, was charged with four counts related to the Cross kidnapping. He pled not guilty, then changed his plea a few months later. He was sentenced to 20 months, a slightly lighter penalty than had been given the three other FLQ kidnappers who had returned before him, though longer than the one year for Nigel Hamer, who had stayed in Canada and had been arrested only in 1980 (various explanations were given for the delay). The sentencing judge listed a series of mitigating factors: Carbonneau’s guilty plea, his renunciation of his past deeds, his progress in reintegrating into society since his return, his apparent lack of commitment to the group’s ideology, and his age. Carbonneau had become involved with the FLQ to protest harsh conditions in the taxi industry, we reported.The final FLQ exile, Yves Langlois, returned in 1982 to face justice.
The uncropped photo. Marc Carbonneau is in the zippered jacked.
George Bird /