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Meech Lake Accord

From Academic Kids

The Meech Lake Accord was a set of failed constitutional amendments to the Constitution of Canada proposed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Robert Bourassa, premier of Quebec. It was designed to induce Quebec to accept the Canada Act.

The accord was negotiated at a meeting between Mulroney and provincial premiers at Meech Lake in the Gatineau Hills in 1987.

It identified five main modifications to the Canadian constitution:

  • a recognition of the province of Quebec as a "distinct society";
  • a commitment to Canada's bilingualism;
  • increased provincial powers with respect to immigration;
  • expansion of the provincial right to constitutional veto; and
  • provincial input in appointing supreme court judges and senators.

Because the accord would have changed the constitution's amending formula, it needed the unanimous consent of all provincial and federal legislative houses within three years before being proclaimed into law. It failed to be ratified in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly when Elijah Harper filibustered until the deadline expired. Once it became clear that the Manitoba Legislative Assembly would not pass the resolution, the Newfoundland House of Assembly also abandoned debate on the accord. The accord was approved by the other eight provinces and the federal houses.

But many fought the Accord. In an interview with CBC journalist Barbara Frum, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau broke his silence on the Accord, claiming it was a sell out. In the interview, Trudeau argued that Quebec, whilst distinct, was no more distinct than many other places in the nation, and should be treated as such. Frum interview with Trudeau for CBC's 'The Journal' (http://archives.cbc.ca/IDCC-1-74-368-2083/life_society/frum/Barbra)

The Meech Lake Accord was followed up by a successor proposal known as the Charlottetown Accord, which also failed to be ratified.

A documentary film was released in 1992 about the Quebec point of view of the accord's demise called Le Mouton noir. It was directed by Jacques Godbout.

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