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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Robin became a student at the University in 1968. He served as Student Union President for the term 1970 to 1971 and in that capacity was also the publisher of The Meliorist. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History and English and then working for a few years, he went to law school. Robin became a Crown Prosecutor in 1979 and in 1995 he was appointed Chief Crown in Lethbridge. He retired in 2009.
Robin discusses the turmoil that occurred during his term as President of the Student Union and administrator of The Meliorist when it published the FLQ (Front de Liberation du Quebec) Manifesto during the FLQ crisis in 1970.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(GH: Graham Ruttan, Interviewer)
RD: And then of course that FLQ thing came out of nowhere, you know, in 1970 in October. That’s the kidnappings and the murder of LaPorte and so on. And then Trudeau dusted off the old War Measures Act, and brought that in and huge powers of arrest and detention and then there were, in a nutshell, the student paper (The Meliorist) had been distributed, the new addition, and it had a copy of the FLQ Manifesto.
RD: But of course, that was done in the way ... they had distributed that very early in the morning. I don’t believe that they had any awareness that the War Measures Act was passed. Certainly, I didn’t until I got out onto campus. And then there was all kinds of trouble over that. And Smith (Sam) called me into the University and I was in the office, that’s when I found out what happened. And then the Attorney General was phoning from Edmonton, and so we called back and he was all up in a rage, in a lather. And the police were on the way to campus to scoop up the whatever papers they could find, and maybe question the guys from the paper. So, anyway, it’s all in there, but we headed them off. We met them at Beckel’s (Bill) house on Scenic Drive because the campus was still out at the College. And we had a good meeting, and I don’t think the police wanted to come onto campus in the first place and they realized ...
GR: The sticky situation.
RD: We told them that the papers were all distributed anyway, and they also realized it’s ridiculous. There’s nobody in Lethbridge or Alberta fomenting terrorism and supporting the FLQ, and probably the guys that distributed it don’t even know the War Measures Act was passed. So, we made a deal, I just said, 'Well I’m the publisher of the paper and there won’t be any more papers published with the FLQ Manifesto.' So, that was fine, and the police went back to the station. And I went and found the editor of The Meliorist and two or three guys that were with him and they were at the Marquis Hotel and we had a beer there and I explained whatever happened and everything was fine. And then later in the afternoon I got another call from Sam Smith because the commercial printer who had a contract with The Meliorist phoned him and said, ‘Well, these guys want another run of this addition but isn’t that illegal?’ So, Sam said, ‘Yeah.’ So then he called me and then I called the printer and said, ‘No, you were right. Don’t print any of that.’ And then to cut a long story short, it’s in there, we had a meeting of the Student Council and dismissed the editor and then the rest of the staff all quit. So, there was no one to run the paper.