The Failure Of The Meech Lake Accord

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The Failure Of The Meech Lake Accord Essay, Research Paper The Meech Lake Accord was an attempt by Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to get Quebec to sign the 1982 Constitution. Quebec, led by Premier Robert Bourassa, submitted five demands. The first demand, a formal voice of Quebec in Supreme Court appointments. Second, say on immigration policy toward Quebec. Others demands include: limits to federal spending powers in areas of provincial jurisdiction, veto power on constitutional amendments affecting provinces and most important, the recognition of Quebec as a “distinct” society. The Meech Lake Accord was in fact an amendment to the Canadian Constitution; therefore both Parliament and all ten provinces had to pass the amendment. The accord signed by all ten

Provincial Premiers and Prime Minister Mulroney in 1987 then had to pass in both the Canadian Parliament and all ten provincial legislatures. Thus the first reason why the Meech Lake Accord did not pass was because of unanimity among all ten provinces when amendments are proposed, which is extremely difficult to obtain on such a controversial issue as Meech Lake. There are many reasons why the Meech Lake Accord was not ratified into law. One reason was the fact that many minorities within Canada thought that giving Quebec the title “distinct” would relegate other minorities to a lesser status. Ontario, the largest English speaking province also rejected this “distinct” society clause on the same grounds as did Manitoba for fear that Anglophone Canadians would be relegated

to a lesser status within government. Another issue that relates toward the Charter of Rights’ and Freedoms and Quebec as a “distinct” society act 178. Act 178, passed in Quebec, was a law that pacified Act 101. Act 101 was legislation that made French the usual language of business, work, instruction, communication and trade within Quebec. Obviously this law angered English Canada because it violated the Charter of Rights’ and Freedoms under the 1982 Constitution, that gave all Canadians equality. With Meech Lake approaching, Premier Bourassa sought to pacify Act 101 by implementing Act 178. Act 178, passed on December 23,1988, legalized languages other than French for commercial signs inside but not outside of commercial buildings, and only if they were in smaller

letters than the French translation. This law did not in any way relieve the anger of English Canada and as a result of this blatant discrimination against non-Francophones within Quebec; many English speaking Canadians resisted and condemned the Meech Lake Accord. Another reason why the Meech Lake Accord failed was because too much federal power was being taken way and given to Quebec and thus the other provinces. Once Quebec received all those powers mentioned in the Meech Lake Accord, the other nine provinces would have wanted them also, thus taking federal power away and giving it to the ten provinces (Jackson 219). Regionalism would start to take place and the idea of a strong federation would cease to exist any longer. First, Quebec would be relegated as “distinct” with

its own immigration laws, unilingualism, provincial control over federal spending within Quebec and its veto on constitutional amendments, then Quebec would want to break off from Canada politically but stay economically allied. English Canada didn’t know when Quebec would stop demanding concessions. To English Canada, Quebec was just one of ten provinces, which had to abide by the 1982 Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Quebec thought that they were essentially half of Canada, one half being English, the other French, and was thus under-represented in Ottawa. To Quebec, the only way to cure this problem was to demand the amendments within the Meech Lake Accord. Many Quebecers argue that those five amendments were not enough and should be expanded upon, while