The Champlain Bridge Massacre was an incident that occurred on May 23rd, 1985 in Gatineau, Canada. During the "Day of Demonstration" organized by the Progressive Alliance and Bloc Quebecois to demand the release from prison of political prisoners such as Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark and Jacques Parizeau, protestors in Gatineau began crossing the Champlain Bridge across the Ottawa River into Ottawa, where they planned to finish their protest in front of the Proletarian Congress and Socialist Party headquarters.
Armed police demanded the crowd disperse, and when they attempted to cross the bridge, police opened fire, killing seventeen people in the initial exchange of fire. As the crowd fled in response, gas canisters were launched against the demonstrators and police chased many whom were fleeing and killed an additional twenty people, five of whom had not been participating in the protests. In addition to the thirty-seven dead, nearly four hundred people were injured. After the protests, the police rounded up nineteen "terrorists" who were tried as enemies of the state, seven of whom were executed that August by firing squad.
The events led to widespread international condemnation and ended almost all credibility for the Canadian regime of John Turner, which had earlier been making overtures to opposition leaders to begin what he called the "Round-Table Talks" to transfer some power to the individual provinces. Opposition leaders completely withdrew from the talks, all TATO nations recalled their ambassadors from Canada, and British Union leader Margaret Thatcher was thereafter convinced that relations with the German bloc needed repair and Communism needed to be wound down somewhat. Two years later, during May 23rd protests in Montreal to commemorate the event, Canadian forces allowed the protestors to roam free, signifying that the Canadian government would do nothing to prevent future domestic criticism of its rule.
Events of May 23rd
The international response, even within the British Bloc, was overwhelmingly negative. On May 24th, the ambassadors of every TATO nation were withdrawn from Canada after an emergency conference amongst leadership the prior evening. Later that day, while addressing a business conference in St. Louis, American President George Bush issued some of the strongest words uttered over the incident:
"As we saw in Europe in the 1940s and south of our borders in the Confederacy in the 1960s, a government cannot be legitimate if it murders its own people. The events yesterday morning in Canada have shocked and apalled the civilized world. I call of Premier Turner - as your neighbor and as a member of the international community - to resign and admit culpability for this unspeakable tragedy. The whole world is watching."
While no other leader demanded Turner's resignation, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl stated that the events in Ottawa were, "unacceptale in modern society" and Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme stated that "Canada has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the civilized world and, most importantly, its own people."
Even Canadian ally Britain criticized the event, with Margaret Thatcher observing, "This is a line that has been crossed - after the events in Canada, there is no going back. What is done is done." Her comments, coming after only two months as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, were seen as a major hint towards her eventual policies of liberalisation.