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Civil liberties were suspended. Armed guards protected politicians. Police officers visited newspapers, wielding their badges like an editor's pencil.

Quebec was in turmoil 35 years ago this month. A handful of self-proclaimed revolutionaries pulled off two audacious kidnappings in events now known as the October Crisis. Hundreds would be jailed, and a man would be murdered.

Although the events took place far from British Columbia, here, too, authorities feared possible unrest and social instability. In Dawson Creek, for example, a high-school teacher was fired for talking about the crisis in his classroom.

In Saanich, police paid three visits to the editor of the student newspaper at the University of Victoria. He was warned against violating the federal War Measures Act, which forbade publication of manifestos written by the Front de libération du Québec.

In Vancouver, the mayor pledged to use the War Measures Act to crack down on hippies, drug dealers and assorted riff-raff. "I would suggest that the draft dodgers had better start dodging -- get out of here, boy, because we're going to pick you up," Tom Campbell said.

Soon after, city police rousted about 200 young people from a hostel at Jericho Beach, an eviction in which billy clubs cracked Billy's head. The young people retreated to the nearby campus of the University of British Columbia.

In Room 241K of the Student Union Building, where posters covered the walls and the blue haze of cigarette smoke filled the air, the young staff of the Ubyssey wrestled with tough decisions about how to cover the story for the campus newspaper.

The editor was Nate Smith, a baby-faced political science student. He turned 21 on Oct. 10, 1970, the day armed men kidnapped Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte outside his suburban home. Mr. Laporte's body would later be found in the trunk of a car after the Trudeau government declared martial law.

"It was very tense," Mr. Smith recalled recently. "I think we were scared. We didn't know what would happen."

Student journalists across Canada faced similar problems. In Nova Scotia, the St. Mary's Journal carried blank spaces where a printer refused to publish articles about the situation in Quebec. The McGill Daily in Montreal was barred from distributing two editions on campus; police seized the typeset flats of a one-page special edition of the Ontarion at the University of Guelph; in Alberta, Lethbridge police threatened the editor of the Meliorist with arrest if he distributed the paper.

At UVic, editor Bob Higinbotham had three visits from the RCMP and Saanich police while producing an edition of the Martlet. Ron Kirkby, an assistant professor in the philosophy department, had written a letter expressing support for the FLQ and "all socialist liberation movements across the world."

Police warned Mr. Higinbotham against publishing the letter or any FLQ material. He satisfied the police by showing them the newspaper's pages before publication.

But at the Ubyssey, Mr. Smith decided to publish Mr. Kirkby's letter "in the interests of free speech."

The paper's first edition after the invocation of the War Measures Act carried Mr. Smith's editorial condemning the suspension of civil liberties. "The type of mentality that created Nazi Germany is alive and well and living in Ottawa," he wrote, citing Alan Bullock's Hitler: A Study in Tyranny in evidence. The headline read: "The first roundup."

At Simon Fraser University atop Burnaby Mountain, the staff of the Peak published the full text of the War Measures Act, as well as the full text of an FLQ manifesto. Editor-in-chief Cameron Beck explained the decision in an editorial condemning the FLQ's violence and the suspension of civil liberties.

"To deny freedom to fight through speech and the press is to make inevitable other forms of battle," Mr. Beck wrote.

Speech became a dangerous liberty in those fraught days. British Columbia's Social Credit government passed an order-in-council permitting the firing of any teacher supporting the FLQ.

The principal of South Peace Senior Secondary announced he was going to send a telegram to Ottawa supporting the prime minister. Students were encouraged to sign the telegram, kicking in five cents to cover the cost of their name.

Arthur Olsen, a 30-year-old chemistry teacher, gave his students a lecture on Quebec politics, a lesson he felt the principal had ignored.

"He didn't seem to care about telling the students about the act, the internment of 25,000 Japanese during the Second World War, or about the FLQ, so I started to talk to the students about the history of Quebec," Mr. Olsen once told me.

"After a while, no one's signing the telegram. But stories go home. The school board later asked me to resign, but I made them fire me. Otherwise, nobody would have known."

In one day, Mr. Olsen went from the obscurity of a Dawson Creek classroom to being described on the front page of daily newspapers as a friend of the FLQ. He quit teaching after his dismissal and later worked as a logging equipment operator.

Mr. Smith, the young editor of the Ubyssey, fared much better. The paper's extensive coverage did not generate pressure from the university administration or the police. The paper's staff were able to go on to their chosen careers, including journalism and law.

In retrospect, Mr. Smith is pleased by his decisions 35 years ago. "We did demonstrate we had the civil liberties," he said. "And we were free to use them. An important point."

Mr. Higinbotham went on to a career in law; since 1995, he has been a Provincial Court judge for the South Vancouver Island district.

As for his counterpart at the Ubyssey, Mr. Justice Nathan Smith was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia last May.