Funny and Moody: The Best of Aislin's Cartoons
S. Q. Dogs
Aislin (alias Terry Mosher)
1990, 20th century
28.5 x 26.5 cm
Gift of Ms. Iona Monahan
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Cartoon (19139) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , politics (10928)
Keys to History
"Cartoons usually amuse viewers. Occasionally, a more cutting image so angers someone that he or she writes a righteously indignant letter to the editor. The reaction to this cartoon went well over the top, however. During the well-documented Oka Crisis of 1990, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), Quebec's provincial police force, fumbled the ball badly while trying to contain the potential violence. Not only were officers shot at, they also took a casualty. Several of their cars were destroyed and then used by the Mohawks to shore up their barricade. I drew this cartoon of a SQ officer as a hot-dog - with all that implies - adding the inevitable donut badge. It provoked a bizarre communiqué, faxed from SQ headquarters in the dead of night and accusing The Gazette of not only disseminating blatant Mohawk propaganda but also harbouring an anti-police bias because the Meech Lake constitutional deal had fallen through! When news of the incident broke, the police force was flayed in both the French and English papers - and I dined out on the incident for months!"
Terry Mosher (alias Aislin)
The event known as the Oka Crisis came to an end in the summer of 1990, just days after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord. In protest over construction projects planned by the mayor of Oka on lands claimed by the Mohawk nation of Kanesatake, activists from that community barricaded the roads leading to it. The conflict really heated up when, in a show of solidarity, the Mohawks of both Kahnawake and Awkwesasne blocked access to the Mercier Bridge. On July 11, the Quebec provincial police (Sûreté du Québec, or SQ) stormed the roadblocks, but were forced to withdraw. An SQ officer, Corporal Marcel Lemay, was killed. Some observers blamed the SQ for escalating the tension and causing the events that led to the death of one of its members. This cartoon attempts to convey the state of mind of members of that police force.
Oka is a town situated south of Montreal. It lies on the border of the Kanesatake Reserve, one of three Mohawk communities in Quebec. The Mercier Bridge, over which thousands of suburbanites travel each day to go to work on the Island of Montreal, spans the St. Lawrence River at the eastern edge of the island.
The Oka Crisis lasted seventy-eight days, from June to September 1990. The premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa, said during that hot summer: "It's the most difficult crisis of my fifteen years in power."
The Sûreté du Québec is the largest police force in the province. It works in conjunction with the Quebec's municipal police forces. In the other provinces this is the role of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which also operates in Quebec.