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Canada and Quebec 1980 to 1995

A look at the issues surrounding Canada and Quebec from 1980 to 1995
by

Chris Finnie

on 19 January 2012

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Transcript of Canada and Quebec 1980 to 1995

Quebec and Canada:
1980 to 1995

Referendum in Quebec: 1980
Parti Quebecois under the leadership of Rene Levesque came to power in Quebec in 1976.
Levesque wanted independence for Quebec with economic ties to Canada.
A referendum was held in 1980 to see if Quebecers wanted to separate.
Federal politicians, like Pierre Trudeau, supported the “no” side in Quebec.
The actual referendum question was complex and did not attract the support the Government of Quebec wished.
82% of the population turned out to vote and 59% rejected the proposal.
Francophones: Oui 60% Non 40%
Anglophones: Oui 9% Non 91%
Immigrants: Oui 16% Non 84%
What's next for Canada?
The 1980 referendum convinced Pierre Trudeau that constitutional change was necessary.
The Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau finally undertook the difficult task of patriating the constitution (making it Canada's without any British authority)
Constitution Act (1982)
Purpose was to satisfy Quebec and other provinces to remain in Canada
Trudeau could not get the provincial premiers to agree on how to change it
So the Federal Gov’t did it alone
At the last minute a deal was struck (except with Quebec)
Quebec was left out of the final meeting and felt betrayed
On 2 December 1981, the federal parliament voted in favour
8 March 1982 British Parliament agreed
3 Main Points:
The power to amend or change the constitution would be brought home from Britain.
Changes to the constitution could be made if the federal government
(House of Commons & Senate)
and 7 provinces with 50% of the population agreed.
A Charter of Rights and freedoms would be added to the constitution.
Quebec as a Distinct Society
Robert Bourassa’s Demands for Quebec - 1987
“Distinct society” status.
A veto for Quebec on any future constitutional amendments.
More power over immigration to Quebec.
The right to opt out of cost sharing programs with the federal government.
The right to nominate Supreme Court judges.
Distinct Society
What did this term mean?
Was Quebec to be considered different or special?
If Quebec was to be special did this mean that additional powers would be given to the Quebec government?
Meech Lake Accord 1987
Canada’s new Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, was determined to resolve the conflict between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
He believed in recognizing Quebec as a “distinct society” which would allow Quebec to control its own affairs and still receive federal funding.
Some special powers included:
1. The confirmation of “distinct society” status for Quebec in order to bring the province into the constitution.
2. The right to allow provinces to nominate Supreme Court judges.
Trudeau denounced the agreements (too much power to Quebec)
Citizens agreed, no equality
Aboriginals were upset that they were ignored
Felt they should have special status like Quebec
Most premiers wanted more for their provinces too
All three political parties and 8 out of 10 provinces approved the accord, only N.F. and Manitoba disapproved and the Accord was defeated.
Meech Lake Explained
http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/politics/the-constitution/constitutional-discord-meech-lake/the-meech-lake-accord-explained.html
Although Meech Lake did not succeed, Mulroney tried again in 1992 in Charlottetown, PEI.
Charlottetown Accord 1992
Mulroney decided to put the debate to the public
Commission put forth to come up with points that would make everyone happy
Points were: Quebec, Senate Reform, Powers, Minorities, and Aboriginals
Voted down 54.4% to 44.6%
Again, too much power to Quebec, not enough for the rest
Effects of Charlottetown Accord Failure
Quebec felt even more bitterness
Rights of Aboriginals being looked at seen as a step in the right direction
PM Mulroney resigned
Kim Campbell took office, first female PM
Campbell defeated by Jean Chrétien 4 months later
Quebec Referendum Pt. 2, 1995
When the Parti Québécois came back into power in1994, led by Jacques Parizeau, it decided to have another referendum.
Referendum held on October 30, 1995 and 50.6% voted NO and 49.4% voted Yes.
We came 0.6% from Quebec separation!
Quebec Today
We haven’t had a referendum since but the debate continues!
It has been proposed that Quebec could be seen as a nation within a nation.
In a Parliamentary motion, only 16, including North Vancouver’s Don Bell, voted against the motion (21 were absent and 2 seats were vacant).
Does this really change anything? What does this mean for Canadian nationhood?
Constitutional debate in Canada continues and the question of national unity remains an unsolved problem.
Quebec remains outside of the Canadian Constitution.
The PQ government in Quebec does not intend to hold another referendum until they are assured of winning conditions.
At the moment these conditions do not exist.
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