Mr. Mervil adopted the role of a fanatical terrorist and delivered an impassioned performance that included fist-pumping and dramatic rage.
It certainly was the highlight of the whole event.
Here are the briefest of glimpses, the last minute or so of the performance will give you the essence of what was presented. If you want to see the whole video go over to YouTube.
As you can see, the performance was well-received by the audience, the sparse crowd applauding, with the couple in the front even offering up a standing ovation. The reception was a bit of an embarrassment to organizers and the third scheduled reading of the text was dropped from the program.
Pauline Marois commented that she would not have applauded.
While the reaction to the weekend event in the French press was mostly positive, Mr. Mervil's performance was widely described as inappropriate.
Richard Martineau of Le Journal de Montreal wrote;
Did you seen the performance of Luck Mervil reading the FLQ Manifesto?Writing in the "La Quotitien" Catherine Delisle writes;
Explain to me why he was so excited? It was as if he was a 'Felquiste' (FLQer- ed.) himself ...
It seems to me that the document is already fairly delicate and controversial as it is, there was no need to add fuel to the fire by speaking in a trembling voice with a fist raised to the sky ...
It's fair to say that Mervil (who juiced up the crowd to the max) delivered more than the customer ordered ...
The FLQ Manifesto advocates the use of violence, so a little restraint would have been fitting, right?
I would have preferred a more neutral reading, a little less hysterical and inflamed ... I think it would have been more respectful to the memory of the innocent victims of the FLQ ...
When the terrorist manifesto was first presented on television back in 1970, as a condition of the hostage's release, it was delivered in a neutral and monotone voice. You can see the video here on YouTube. Mr. Mervil's interpretation is historically inaccurate."The children of Pierre Laporte are still alive.
Out of respect for them, couldn't we impose a certain reserve and show compassion, empathy and dignity?
If a family member of your's had been killed during the October Crisis or the terrorist events that preceded it, would you sit in a ringside seat and applaud Luck Mervil, the great patriot, who chose to read this text?
Of course Mr Mervil is unapologetic.
He told reporters that he'd have no problem reading Adolf Hitler in Germany or the Ku Klux Klan in America.
A letter writer in La Presse, Robert Berthiaume from Québec takes him to task for the foolish statement.
"I suggest that he goes to Ground Zero in New York and read some statements from Bin Laden with that same attitude. The fist-pumping, his eyes bugging out of his head as well as the rage. I bet he'd get a couple of backhanders to the face..."
Of course all this is harmless fun, according to organizers, just words which can in no way inflame anyone to violence. The fact that an hour after Mr. Mervil's performance, the Quebec Parliament (a short distance away from the festivities) was vandalized with FLQ graffiti is no doubt unrelated.
Perhaps Mr. Mervil should return to his native Haiti and offer the locals a dramatic reading of a text in praise of the notorious Tonton Macoutes, the murdering thugs of the Duvalier regime.
On the other hand, I doubt that a Haitian audience would applaud...he'd probably have to run for his life!