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Levesque Disgusted by His Party’s Invitation to PLO Officials to Attend Its Conclave As Observers

December 9, 1981
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Prime Minister Rene Levesque of Quebec expressed disgust today that the Parti Quebecois which he heads invited two Palestine Liberation Organization officials to attend its convention here last weekend as observers. “The invitation is nothing else but kindergarten internationalism,” Levesque told a press conference in Quebec City this morning. He indicated it was a gesture by the party’s radical majority to discredit him.

But Levesque was equivocal on the nature of the PLO when he appeared on a television interview last Saturday night. Asked by the host, Pierre Nadeau, if he was aware that the PLO is a terrorist organization, the Prime Minister replied: “There is an element of terror in the PLO. But let us not forget that the State of Israel itself was born out of terrorism.”

Levesque called his press conference today to dissociate himself from “any innuendos” arising from the convention. He repeated his threat to resign from the Parti Quebecois where he is presently embroiled in a struggle with radical secessionists who, he said, want to circumvent the democratic process.


The invitations to Edmon Omran, attached to the PLO’s information bureau in Ottawa, and Abdullah Abdullah, another PLO spokesman, were the first from any political party in North America to PLO representatives. Omran said “the PLO receives its greatest support in Canada from Quebeckers who share with it a fight for national identity … When we were presented to the delegates the reception we received was so tremendous that we felt that the Quebecois are really behind us.”

Levesque noted at his press conference that the convention also gave a “standing ovation” to Jacques Rose, a convicted Canadian terrorist free on parole. He and his brother, Paul Rose, still in prison, received life sentences for the assassination of the Liberal Party Quebec Minister Pierre Laport in 1970.

Sylvain Simard, vice president of the Parti Quebecois, said after the convention that the invitation to the PLO did not signify direct support for the Palestinian cause. “Invitations were sent to all the progressive parties in the world, including the Israeli Labor Party,” Simard said.

The Parti Quebecois and the Quebec government have never taken an official position on the issue of a Palestinian homeland. Levesque, before coming to power, had advocated creation of a homeland for the Palestinian people. The Federal government does not recognize the PLO. Its information bureau in Ottawa is technically part of the Arab League’s information office there.

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