March 15, 2013

Famous photo tells only part of the Paul Rose story: his ignominy lives on

Posted by WARREN PERLEY – Editor,
Writing from Montreal

The most famous photo of FLQ terrorist Paul Rose, who died of a stroke at the age of 69 on March 14, 2013, was taken in January 1971 as he lifted his left arm in a clenched fist victory salute outside the courthouse in Montreal where he had just been charged with the kidnapping and murder of then-Quebec Labor Minister Pierre Laporte.

Rose's arm was immediately yanked down by burly Det.-Sgt. Albert Lisacek of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), who on Dec. 28, 1970 had been part of an SQ raiding party which captured Paul Rose, his brother Jacques Rose and co-conspirator Francis Simard in a farmhouse tunnel in St. Luc, 22 miles southeast of Montreal.

The incident and the animosity between Paul Rose and Lisacek, anointed by the press in 1972 as Canada's toughest cop, is recounted in a 17,000-word profile of Lisacek I wrote on our ad-free journalism site,, just months before he died of colon cancer on Nov. 20, 2012:

[See teaser below]

Published: JULY 2012
Little Albert’s whacky world of bullets, beatings and bad guys

Writing from Montreal

It’s no fun losing your testicles in a shootout with Canada’s toughest cop. But then again, Det.-Sgt. Albert Lisacek was never known as a guy with a sense of humour during his 25 years with the Sûreté du Québec. Now the outspoken Lisacek tells the real story of cops’n’robbers in the ’60s and ’70s, including what happened just before infamous killer Richard Blass was shot dead by police, the last moments of Machine Gun Molly and his near-death experience with Jacques Mesrine, Public Enemy No. 1 in France.

17,127 Words | 66 Photos | 2 Illustrations

BUY THIS STORY Recommend to a Friend

At Albert’s funeral on December 1, 2012, I met Richard Meloche, who retired in 1990 as an SQ inspector after 27 years with the force. He told me an interesting anecdote concerning the famous UPI photo, published around the world, of Rose raising his arm in a victory salute and Albert immediately pulling his arm down.

Meloche, a young constable in uniform at the time, told me he had his left wrist handcuffed to Paul Rose's right wrist as they left the courthouse that January day in 1971. He added that he was none too happy to be handcuffed to Rose, fearing the accused might try to flee, dragging him along. The only solace he had was the sight of the 275-pound Lisacek in plain clothes on the other side of, and slightly behind, Rose.

"I knew Albert was a tough guy," Meloche recalled. "Nobody tangled with Albert." So when Rose lifted his free left arm in a victory salute, Albert used both his massive arms to pull Rose's arm down immediately. Meloche said Albert almost broke Rose's arm in the process. "He really yanked it down," Meloche recalled with a chuckle. "Rose didn't say anything, but I could see he wasn't too happy."

The photo of the tussle between Rose and Lisacek was carried worldwide by the wire services. The UPI photo showed Albert grabbing Rose’s left arm to bring it down while Meloche looked on. A reader from Nashville, Tennessee cut the photo out of her local newspaper in January 1971 and sent the clipping to SQ headquarters with a note which read: “Thank you God for a man like Sgt. Albert Lisacek.”

But the FLQ did not give thanks for Lisacek. Instead they listed him as their No. 1 assassination target in a communiqué issued in the fall of 1970 at the height of the crisis. Albert told me in an interview in May 2012 that after he learned of the threat on his life, he installed an alarm with a trip wire around his country house in Lac des Ecosses, 84 miles north of Montreal. The alarm sounded at 5 a.m. one morning, prompting Albert to jump out of bed and run outside “bare balls with my Thompson” sub-machinegun looking to shoot the intruder. It seemed that a bird had tripped the wire.

In the article, Lisacek talked about how the SQ, acting on a tip on December 27, 1970, surrounded a farmhouse in St. Luc, Quebec, where the three remaining members of the Chénier cell of the FLQ – Paul and Jacques Rose, together with Francis Simard – were hiding in a 20-foot-long subterranean tunnel just over three feet high.

Dr. Jacques Ferron was asked by the terrorists to act as a mediator. The negotiations stretched for hours until the Quebec government agreed to the demands of the Rose brothers and Simard that bail conditions for political prisoners “return to normal”.

One last concern the terrorists had was to receive assurances from the SQ’s commanding officer that Albert not be allowed anywhere near them because they were concerned he would shoot them with his trusty Thompson sub-machinegun. They threatened to blow up the farmhouse if he didn’t leave, Albert told me. The commander ordered Lisacek to leave, which he did, and the prisoners came out of their hole with their hands up at 5 a.m. on December 28, 1970.

Albert said he was rankled by the way the 1994 French-language docudrama Octobre portrayed him shooting a Uzi sub-machinegun into the tunnel to force the culprits out. That never happened, he insisted. As well, he told me that the film was inaccurate in showing Montreal police on the scene. Only the SQ was present.

Paul Rose, Bernard Lortie and Francis Simard were all convicted in the kidnapping and murder of Pierre Laporte. Despite the heinous nature of their crimes, none of them ended up doing much jail time. Albert told me he believed that many French-Canadians had been brainwashed into believing that the terrorists were heroes, fighting for the freedom of Quebec.

It’s the same kind of revisionist thinking that allowed Radio Canada – the French-language arm of the CBC – to describe Paul Rose as an “activist, political scientist and trade unionist” in the announcement of his death on March 14, 2013.

Radio Canada neglected to mention that Rose was convicted of the murder and kidnapping of Pierre Laporte, a dedicated civil servant and the father of young children when he was strangled to death with his gold crucifix on October 17, 1970 at the age of 49, one day after Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau declared the War Measures Act. Laporte’s body was stuffed in the trunk of a car abandoned at St. Hubert airport on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Montreal.

To understand the barbarity of his execution at the hands of the Rose brothers and Simard, Quebecers would do well to reread a letter Laporte wrote to then-Premier Robert Bourassa on October 11, 1970 while in captivity, asking the premier to do all he could to negotiate his safe release.

The note, which runs just over 150 words, reads in part:

I had two brothers, both are now dead. I remain alone as the head of a large family that comprises my mother, my sisters, my own wife and my children, and the children of Rolland of whom I am the guardian. My departure would create for them irreparable grief, and you know the ties that bind the members of my family…

You have the power of life and death over me. I depend on you and I thank you for it.

The last word on the matter should go to then-Parti Quebecois leader René Levesque, himself a sovereignist but an exemplary social democrat, who had this to say at the time of Laporte’s murder: “Speaking for the Parti Quebecois we find completely intolerable Mr. Laporte’s barbaric execution by people who have no sense of humanity and who don’t reflect Quebec.”

As proud Quebecers and Canadians, we must not let the passage of time warp our perception of historic events, together with the values and lessons they represent. A terrorist, such as Paul Rose, convicted more than four decades ago of a politically-motivated kidnapping and murder in a peaceful, democratic country, was neither a hero then nor now by any standards of civilized society.