Quebec and the Rest of Canada
Quebec and the Rest of Canada
A New Constitution for Canada
Despite the fact that Canada was an independent country, the Canadian constitution - The British North America Act, was an act from the British parliament and any changes had to be approved by them as well.
As he had promised during the 1980 Referendum, Trudeau planned to remove any parts of the constitution that are under British control. Unable to reach a consensus with the provinces, he decided to go to Supreme Court alone.
Due to the Supreme Court's decision, a new round of negotiations between the provincial and federal government began on November 2, 1981.
9 premiers and the federal government had an agreement. However when Rene Levesque woke up the next morning to see a great deal of change, he was furious to see that the premiers had removed Quebec's veto power. Levesque refused to sign (although he had agreed to no veto power earlier).
On April 19, 1982 the
became the supreme law of Canada. It included the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
which spells out the rights of Aboriginal peoples of Canada, and a procedure to amend the constitution.
The election in 1976 of the pro-separation PQ (Parti Quebecois) in Quebec provided the catalyst for change in the province. In 199 the PQ passed Bill 101.
Bill 101 which came to be known as "the language bill" that was designed to strengthen Quebec's language laws and ensure the survival of the French language and francophone culture in Quebec.
In 1988, the Quebec government took steps to strengthen the language laws through Bill 178. Many non-francophones were upset over the new language rules, which required that all commercial signs, billboards, and notices be in French only, and that all children (except those that 's first language us English and one parent who attended an English-language school in Quebec) must attend French -language schools.
The battle for the hearts of Quebeckers was played out in media through rallies, and speeches. The "No" side was led by Quebec Liberal leader Claude Ryan, but Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau took an active role as well.
An important turning point in the referendum campaign was when PQ member Lise Payette, in a Montreal meeting in March 1980, called those who opposed sovereignty-association "Yvettes".
A month before the Quebec Referendum it was decided that all Inuit abstain from vote. As it was said that the provincial referendum was a "white man vote"
The Clarity Act
The federal government passed the
The Act was intended to provide a clear framework for any future referendas and efforts toward separatism by any province
The Meech Lake Accord
When Brian Mulroney became prime minister in 1984, he promised to revise the constitution to satisfy Quebec. On April 30,1987, he called the premiers together to meet at Meech Lake, a secluded resort north of Ottawa.
The plan they drew up had a deadline of June 23, 1990 which by that time all provinces had to approve the agreement.
One Cree member of the Manitoba legislature, Elijah Harper, opposed the agreement due to it not recognizing Aboriginal peoples as an equal partner. Using procedural ground, he stopped the Manitoba Legislative Assembly from approving the Meech agreement.
Quebec Referendum, 1995
With the failure of an agreement between Quebec and the rest of the country, the new PQ government of Jacques Parizeau decided to hold another referendum on Quebec independence on October 30, 1995.
The federal government of Jean Chretien had several responses to the close referendum. It spent monies in Quebec to demonstrate a strong federal presence there led to the "sponsorship scandal" with millions of dollars unaccounted for. The second response was the passage legislation that Chretien had promised during the campaign to recognize Quebec as a distinct society within Canada.
The Calgary Declaration of 1997 provided a framework for constitutional reform that recognized the equality of provinces, the equality of Canadians, Quebec as a distinct society, and Canada's diversity with respect to Aboriginal peoples, the two founding nations, and multiculturalism.
The declaration was ratified by all provinces except Quebec, which continued to boycott meetings between the federal government and the provincial premiers.