The myth of political vendetta in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Airbus Affair investigation, the politics of Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien, and some social undercurrents in Canada (Part 7)

(Continued from Part 6, previous blog post)

If prime minister Jean Chretien could consistently get away with convenient political hyperboles which he probably only pretended to be serious, and with his “undemocratic practices” quashing Liberal internal dissent and discouraging debate on issues, that is likely because prime minister Brian Mulroney’s political schemes had often been viewed as sinister.

When Mulroney appointed 15 senators during August-September 1990 on his way to acquire a Tory majority in the Senate in order to defeat Liberal resistance to his unpopular GST bill, in typical Mulroney style some of his patronage appointments caused not just controversies but outrage.

Leading the patronage controversies was the appointment of then Nova Scotia premier John Buchanan, (not because Buchanan was the first-ever sitting provincial premier to be appointed senator but) because the Buchanan government was under active RCMP investigation for his alleged accepting kickbacks and giving government work to his friends. 279

One politician who came out strongly against Mulroney on the Buchanan appointment was, surprisingly, rookie Tory MP Stan Wilbee – two years before his 1992 leadership-review call when by that time he would be B.C. Tory caucus chair and chair of the Commons committee on health issues (as previously discussed). Wilbee said in 1990: 280

“… this (Buchanan’s appointment) is a flouting of a tradition of Canadian government and just a throwback to the days of (former Liberal prime minister Pierre Elliott) Trudeau, who had complete disregard for the people of Canada.”

Prior to attending a Tory caucus meeting in September 1990, Wilbee had announced he was ready to quit the party over the Buchanan issue and sit in the Commons as an independent; but Mulroney held a meeting with him and Wilbee backed down, stating that he realized the difficulty of getting re-elected as an independent and that he could be more effective working within the Tory caucus. 281

So by the time when I got involved in the issue of Mulroney’s leadership in November 1992, being a B.C. MP and a medical doctor Stan Wilbee was actually sitting in pretty good parliamentary positions, albeit outside the government, considering his previous, highly publicized intent to quit the Tory party; and he was for a second time speaking out against Mulroney (not counting his opposition of the 1992 Charlottetown constitutional accord).

But Wilbee’s willingness to take open stands opposite Mulroney’s wasn’t enough to save him later from the nationwide tide sweeping away the Tories during the 1993 election, when he would come in third in his B.C. Delta riding behind Reform party’s John Cummins and Liberal party’s Karen Morgan; Wilbee placed the blame for his and the Progressive Conservative party’s election losses at Mulroney, and at “Mulroney’s campaign team” Kim Campbell inherited: 282

“She started off well but one of her problems was she inherited Mulroney’s campaign team”.

As previously discussed, in December 1992, i.e., two months before announcing his intent to resign, Mulroney had already given Campbell his entire campaign team made up of persons who had helped him win his leadership in 1983 – including Frank Moores. 283

Back in September 1990 when Brian Mulroney was under challenge on the GST from the Liberal-controlled Senate, and Stan Wilbee reacted to Mulroney’s tactics by talking about quitting the Tories, Mulroney was at a low point due to the failure of the Meech Lake constitutional accord, which had been reached by his government and the provincial governments in 1987 but failed to be ratified by the deadline in June 1990.

The late columnist Don McGillivray described certain ways in which Mulroney extracted agreement from the provincial leaders as ‘bait-and-trap’, in an article “Senate reform like bait in a mousetrap”, dated February 9, 1989: 284

“Mulroney may be stalling Alberta’s rush to Senate reform for two reasons. First, like all prime ministers, he likes patronage. And he doesn’t want to jump the gun because Senate reform is the bait by which he hopes to lure the provinces into approving the Meech Lake deal.

And it’s like the cheese in the mousetrap, to be seen and sniffed but not to be enjoyed. If Meech Lake is ever approved, Senate reform is dead forever.

This is because every province will get a veto over changes to the Senate.”

What McGillivray said was that one of the Meech Lake accord’s provisions, that of Senate appointments to be made from lists submitted by provincial governments, was still far from the goal of an elected Senate aspired to by many Canadians, particularly Albertans, and that if the provincial governments were enticed by this modest progress in ‘Senate reform’ to pass the constitutional amendment they would be trapped in a situation where real Senate reform would become impossible – due to the accord’s requirement of unanimous provincial agreement for future constitutional amendments; McGillivray felt that this ‘bait-and-trap’ was intentional because Mulroney liked the patronage Senate. 285

When Canada was founded as a British dominion in 1867, the British North America Act establishing it became its Constitution – updated only by the power of the British parliament – until prime minister Pierre Trudeau ‘repatriated’ a modern Constitution in April 1982 in a ceremony attended by Queen Elizabeth II. 286 The 1982 Constitution had a Charter of Rights and Freedoms with protection for the basic rights and freedoms, recognition of English and French as the official languages, and recognition of “existing” aboriginal and treaty rights of the native people; it also specified a future constitutional amending formula, under which major constitutional changes would require approval by the parliament and by at least two-thirds of the provincial legislatures representing at least 50% of the population of all provinces; but the 1982 Constitution left the national political institutions unchanged – including the appointed Senate modeled after the British “House of Lords” but without a peerage system and with a mandatory retirement age of 75. 287

In 1981 in reaching an agreement between the federal government and nine provinces (without Quebec) on the new Constitution, there was a “kitchen” episode involving a crucial compromise worked out among then justice minister Jean Chretien, Ontario attorney general Roy McMurtry, and Saskatchewan attorney general Roy Romanow, at Chretien’s Ottawa home and then in a fifth-floor kitchen of the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa, regarding what rights should be in the Constitution: at the time, Trudeau felt that minority-language educational rights (i.e., rights of French education for people of French heritage in an English region, and vice versa) were his bottom line and that the usual fundamental rights could be for a national referendum to decide, but he had difficulty getting agreement of the provinces and was thinking about the federal government going it alone; Quebec’s separatist Parti Quebecois premier Rene Levesque wanted both the minority-language rights and the fundamental rights to be decided by a referendum; then in late 1981 the “kitchen” players initiated a compromise whereby the federal government and the nine English-speaking provinces would accept the minority-language rights but would add a “notwithstanding clause” in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that the parliament or a provincial legislature would have the option to ‘suspend’ the “fundamental freedoms”, “legal rights” or “equality rights” in the Charter, i.e., to make a legislation exempt from the rights and freedoms; Trudeau agreed to this “McMurtry formula” on the ‘sunset’ condition that any ‘suspension’ would need to be re-enacted every 5 years. 288 

The “McMurtry formula” later became known as the “Kitchen Accord” Jean Chretien was proud of; Chretien’s Liberal successor Paul Martin has expressed that he was ashamed of the “notwithstanding clause”, while Canadians have been divided about it. 289 In any case, controversies about Chretien’s convenient “undemocratic” tendencies date back to when he was a key member of the Trudeau government.

In late 1981 Quebec’s Levesque refused to sign the agreement for the new Constitution, claiming that his province had the right to exercise a veto based on English-French duality in Canada, or alternately unanimity among provinces was required for constitutional change; a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 1982 found insufficient evidence to support Quebec’s claim of a right to veto based on duality, and found the notion of a unanimity requirement among all provinces contradictory to that of English-French duality. 290 

The new Constitution’s mention of existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the native people was won near the last minute in 1981, after years of native protests led by the National Indian Brotherhood (predecessor of the Assembly of First Nations) and intense pressure put on the British parliament by the Canadian natives; however the natives continued to seek recognition of “title” rather than “rights”, a veto similar to what Quebec claimed, as well as a greater political role. 291, 292 

During the 1984 election Tory leader Brian Mulroney expressed sympathy toward Quebec separatists who opposed the “Centralistic” attitudes of the Liberal government; after he became prime minister and in 1985 Quebec Liberal leader Robert Bourassa became premier (again), negotiations for a constitutional amendment to accommodate Quebec began with a 1986 summary of five demands from Quebec: recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, a guarantee of increased provincial powers on immigration to Quebec, limits on federal spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction, a Quebec say in Supreme Court of Canada appointments, and a Quebec “right of veto” on future constitutional changes. 293, 294

The Meech Lake accord reached in 1987 by the federal government and all provinces gave Quebec better concessions in most areas of the five demands than Bourassa had originally asked for, but it was achieved in accordance with the Mulroney Tories’ decentralization agenda; thus, whereas Quebec alone would be recognized as a “distinct society” for its unique French culture, in most of the other areas the same or similar concessions would be granted to all provinces; in particular, future constitutional changes concerning the Senate, the House of Commons and the Supreme Court would require consent by every province in Canada. 295

The Meech Lake accord also featured a small step of Senate reform whereby Senate appointments would be made from lists of candidates submitted by the provinces.

In retirement from politics, Pierre Trudeau was very critical of many aspects of the Quebec demands, of the Meech Lake accord acceding to these demands, and of the Mulroney government’s decentralization objectives. Trudeau said of the decentralization and the provincial veto: 296

“For those who – despite all the Canadian government’s largesse with power and with funds – might still have been hesitant to sign the Meech Lake accord, the prime minister had two more surprises up his sleeve. From now on, the Canadian government won’t be able to appoint anyone to the Supreme Court and the Senate except people designated by the provinces! And from now on, any province that doesn’t like an important constitutional amendment will have the power to either block the passage of that amendment or to opt out of it, with “reasonable compensation” as a reward!

What a dark day for Canada was this April 30, 1987! In addition to surrendering to the provinces important parts of its jurisdiction (the spending power, immigration), in addition to weakening the Charter of Rights, the Canadian state made subordinate to the provinces its legislative power (Senate) and its judicial power (Supreme Court); and it did this without hope of ever getting any of it back (a constitutional veto granted to each province). It even committed itself to a constitutional “second round” at which the demands of the provinces will dominate the agenda.”

Some others, including Liberal leader John Turner who gave cautious endorsement to the accord, expressed opposition to the provincial veto; in an article first published on February 20, 1988 in The Gazette and The Vancouver Sun and two days later in The Windsor Star, the late columnist Christopher Young of The Ottawa Citizen pointed to the potential break-up crisis developing in Yugoslavia where Mulroney’s wife Mila was from, and warned Canadians to take a look in relation to the provincial-veto issue before deciding to accept the Meech Lake accord: 297, 298 

“Prime Minister Mulroney in particular should take a look, in the light of his decision at Meech Lake to concede a constitutional veto power to every Canadian province.

He may soon have the chance. At meetings in Ottawa and Calgary last week, Mulroney told Yugoslav Prime Minister Branko Mikulic that he and his Yugoslav-born wife, Mila, may accept an invitation to visit the country in September or October.

Yugoslavia is in a deep crisis, both economic and political, a crisis aggravated and made more difficult to solve by a constitution that allows each of the country’s six republics and two provinces a veto on major constitutional change.”

Despite these and a few other voices of opposition, prime minister Mulroney forged ahead, fought and won the 1988 election campaigning on the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement and the Meech Lake accord, stating during the election campaign, “A vote for the [federal] Liberals on Nov. 21 is a vote to kill Meech Lake”. 299

Although Mulroney won a second majority term, afterwards a larger chorus of voices in the media could be heard dissenting on the Meech Lake accord, as the more conservative began to join Trudeau and the small band of leftwing voices opposing it, pointing out that the provincial-veto issue was a serious sticking point making the accord unacceptable and dangerous to Canada. 300

The opposing opinions were bolstered by changes in the provincial political landscapes ahead of the 3-year timeline to ratify the accord by June 1990.

On October 13, 1987, New Brunswick Liberals under Frank McKenna toppled premier Richard Hatfield’s Tory government and won all 58 seats in the legislature; in 1988, Manitoba Tories under Gary Filmon defeated the New Democrats under premier Howard Pawley, winning a minority government; and in 1989, Newfoundland Liberals under Clyde Wells defeated Tories under Tom Rideout who had succeeded premier Brian Peckford, although in this case it would take a while for Wells to act tough as he was humbled by the loss of his own seat on April 20 and had to stand in a by-election – but unopposed as both the Tories and the NDP chose not to run against the new premier-elect. 301

All three new provincial leaders objected to the Meech Lake accord as it had been, and became holdouts requesting major changes.

Among the three, premier Frank McKenna was the least demanding, asking only for a companion accord to strengthen minority rights (he would serve as premier for 10 years, similar to Chretien later did as prime minister, and has been active in the national scene – in particular as Canadian ambassador to U.S.). 302, 303 

Premier Gary Filmon became opposed only after the Manitoba New Democrats under new leader Gary Doer joined the provincial Liberals under Sharon Carstairs to demand changes to the accord or defeat of Filmon’s minority Tory government; but once committed, Filmon called for a full Senate reform for the Senate to be elected and equal (an equal number of all-elected senators from every province), preferably with the same powers it already had, and that if this could not be achieved within a short timeframe the provincial-veto provision be dropped and negotiations continue under the 1982 Constitution’s amending formula, i.e., approval by two-thirds of the provinces representing at least 50% of the population. 304

Filmon’s opposition to the accord rekindled a debate over whether there could be a veto formula that would not be either a Quebec-only veto or a veto for every province; Quebec premier Robert Bourassa and incoming Liberal leader Jean Chretien had favored a regional-veto approach in which the large provinces of Quebec and Ontario would each count as a region and every other province part of some region; it was an old idea dating back to the 1971 Victoria Charter time when a relatively fresh prime minister Trudeau and first-time Quebec premier Bourassa were trying their hands at constitutional reform, but in May 1990 the all-party parliamentary committee on the Meech Lake accord, headed by future Tory leader Jean Charest, included it as well as McKenna’s idea of a companion accord among 23 recommended changes to the Meech Lake accord. 305

Filmon continued to insist that no province should have a constitutional veto.

Premier Clyde Wells put forth some carefully thought out ideas, including a reformed, equal and elected Senate, and a provincial veto exercised in the Senate by Quebec senators only and limited to matters affecting Quebec’s linguistic and cultural rights and its civil law: 306

“Extending a constitutional veto to all provinces would effectively halt all significant future constitutional change.

Newfoundland recommends that Quebec’s proposal for a constitutional veto be addressed through special votes in the Senate. Quebec, through its senators acting at the national level, would have an effective veto over constitutional amendments affecting linguistic or cultural rights, or civil law judges on the Supreme Court of Canada.”

In early June 1990 ahead of the deadline, prime minister Mulroney managed to use pressure and promises of future constitutional reforms including Senate reform to get an agreement from all provincial premiers to ratify the Meech Lake accord by the deadline without any change – all except Clyde Wells who said he would either hold a provincial referendum and let the outcome decide or allow his Liberal members of the House of Assembly a free vote in the legislature. 307

But when the deadline of of June 23 arrived, Clyde Wells had done nothing to put the accord to a vote in Newfoundland; he made the decision after an aboriginal people’s campaign – with Manitoba Legislative Assembly member Elijah Harper as their point man – had prevented the accord from being introduced in the Manitoba legislature, with the natives objecting to the negotiations’ exclusion of native participation and the accord’s exclusion of aboriginal issues; at that point Wells decided to rebuff Tory Senate leader Lowell Murray’s proposal of extending the deadline and let the accord expire. 308

That act of ‘good riddance’ by Clyde Wells became such a lasting sour point between Mulroney and Wells that later on February 24, 1993 when announcing his intent to retire, Mulroney again criticized Wells for not putting the Meech Lake accord to a vote in 1990 and thus betraying a written promise, and Mulroney also revealed that he would have retired in August 1990 – (just in case people were glad to see him go!) – had it not been for the Meech Lake accord’s failure and a number of other issues, including the emerging GST fight with the Chretien Liberals in the Senate and the discovery that Robert Bourassa had cancer. 309 

Mulroney’s disappointment with Wells for the latter’s role in the failure to ratify the Meech Lake accord is understandable given the Newfoundland Tories’ prior gesture in 1989 not to oppose Wells in a by-election after the incoming Liberal premier had failed to win his own seat in the general election.

But in any case columnist Don McGillivray’s metaphor of “bait in a mousetrap” in 1989 referred to a situation with the Meech Lake accord – and later with the Charlottetown accord also though to a different degree – where prime minister Mulroney tried to coerce the country into accepting an amended Constitution that would have been profoundly lacking or contained serious flaws (in its reform of the national political institutions) and yet nearly impossible to be further amended.

Back on New Year’s Day 1990, columnist Andrew Coyne of the Financial Post had offered his view that the type of constitutional veto in the Meech Lake accord was there for the political interests of Brian Mulroney and Robert Bourassa: 310

“Quebec’s present “veto” is a construct of emotional blackmail on the part of Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa and the political interests of the Prime Minister.”

Among the 23 changes recommended by a parliamentary committee headed by Jean Charest to improve the Meech Lake accord was public hearings by the parliament and provincial legislatures in the future for constitutional reform; in November 1990 Mulroney took a bolder first step toward post-Meech Lake constitutional reform, appointing a 12-member royal commission, headed by prominent academic and journalist Keith Spicer, to hear the views of ordinary Canadians across the country on the future of Canada; Mulroney said: 311

“Every Canadian who wants to will be able to have a say.”

Reactions to the Citizens’ Forum on Canada’s Future from politicians and the media were mixed: some felt that by using this forum to preclude other concrete constitutional steps he had previously promised Mulroney was actually stalling the new reform; some others felt that due to Canadians’ “divergent aspirations” the forum would lead more to cacophony and anarchy than to constructive inputs on constitutional reform; Spicer viewed it as a kind of collective therapy for the country, a quest for the Canadian soul and values. 312

Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells said that it would be more effective to convene a gathering of elected/appointed politicians from the federal and provincial levels – a “constitutional convention” – to focus on concrete constitutional proposals. 313

Columnist Don McGillivray believed the Spicer forum was just “window dressing” by Mulroney, and predicted that once the process was over Mulroney would revert to his accustomed, behind-closed-doors discussions and negotiations for the Constitution. 314

The forum took the form of both public hearings held across the country and telephone inputs, over a period of five months; the participation results turned out to be mixed as well: forum moderator Lloyd Brown-John had several hearings in Southern Ontario in which he sat alone in an empty room, and when a hearing at the town of Tecumseh was cancelled due to heavy snowfall it was not rescheduled; in some other instances the forum drew comments that were bigoted or racist. 315

In the end, the Citizens’ Forum consulted about 300, 000 Canadians compared to Spicer’s original goal of one million, via public hearings, telephone lines, and mail; the Spicer commission report released in June 1991 declared that Canada was in a crisis, of identity, understanding and leadership, and of national unity; in his forward for the report, Keith Spicer stated that (despite all that about crises) the report’s consensus editing did not reflect enough the depth of people’s anger toward Mulroney and Mulroney’s role in the national unity crisis; Spicer also noted that the degree of decentralization contemplated by Mulroney was out of step with the English-Canadian (though not with the French-Canadian) values. 316

After the report’s release, national polls indicated that two-thirds of Canadians felt it had been a waste of time, and two-thirds of Canadians also wanted Mulroney to step down. 317

Although the forum’s discussions were often not focused on constitutional reform, some important themes did emerge early as to what Canadians would like to see in that respect: they wanted Quebec to be part of Canada, wanted to go a distance to do the right thing and fix the problem of the aboriginal people, and wanted more or less decentralization but definitely not more centralization. 318

The commission was however taken aback by how much dissatisfaction people expressed toward the official English-French bilingualism policy (enacted by Pierre Trudeau): they called it divisive and unnecessary. 319

Many Canadians also expressed desires for more direct democracy – fundamental changes to the political system that would include “referendums, impeachment, recall, proportional representation, free parliamentary votes, an elected or abolished Senate, direct election of the prime minister and the convening of a constituent assembly” 320 – a plethora of changes far beyond the Meech Lake accord and its process in the past, and in fact beyond the elected politicians’ visions for post-Meech Lake constitutional reform.

Despite overwhelming sentiment expressed by Canadians, a constituent assembly was not among the Spicer commission report’s official recommendations; that and a national referendum were quickly termed by the new constitutional affairs minister Joe Clark as what the government would use only as ‘last resort’, who had already initiated a special joint (Senate-and-Commons), all-party parliamentary-committee process with public hearings, to work on constitutional proposals. 321

But the Mulroney government then tightly directed (if not undercut) the parliamentary-committee hearings when on September 24 – the day before the hearings’ start – Mulroney unveiled a constitutional package that would include “distinct society” status for Quebec, an elected Senate with special seats for the aboriginals, and native self-government within ten years. 322

The Assembly of First Nations launched an ad campaign calling the self-government plan a “hoax” and  an “empty promise”; the all-party committee’s public hearings then ran into occasions of nearly empty audience – especially in Manitoba – and quickly descended into partisan squabbling that saw hearings suspended over demands by the Liberals and the NDP to remove Manitoba Tory MP Dorothy Dobbie from co-chairing with Quebec Tory Senator Claude Castonguay. 323

Bypassing the committee, Clark announced a series of five national policy conferences to be held on the major elements of the federal constitutional package: economic union, aboriginal self-government, Quebec as a distinct society, institutional reform and the division of powers. 324

Shortly after the committee’s hearings resumed, Clark also announced the Mulroney government’s plan for behind-the-scenes negotiations with the provinces to begin in January 1992 – before the completion of either the public hearings or the policy conferences. 325

But by late 1991 the Canadian political landscape had changed further from May-June 1990 when three recently elected provincial leaders Frank McKenna, Gary Filmon and Clyde Wells demanded changes to the 1987 Meech Lake accord, with the latter two’s provinces, Manitoba and Newfoundland, holding up its ratification and eventually ending it. By October 1991 three more provinces had new governments, and they were all New Democrats (NDP): Ontario’s Bob Rae elected in October 1990, and British Columbia’s Mike Harcourt and Saskatchewan’s Roy Romanow in October 1991, premiers to a total of over half of Canada’s population. 326

Ontario premier Bob Rae had been well known for his socially progressive political views; once elected, Rae immediately championed the positions of enshrining aboriginal self-government in the Constitution and a stronger Charter of Rights and Freedoms; together with Clyde Wells, Rae also pushed persistently for a constituent constitutional assembly, but this in any pan-Canadian way was unacceptable to Quebec and was (thus) dismissed by Mulroney weeks before the Spicer commission report’s release despite overwhelming support for it expressed to the forum; Rae also welcomed Joe Clark to be in charge of constitutional reform (even though in 1979 as a federal MP Rae had orchestrated the non-confidence motion that brought down Clark from his short stint as prime minister). 327 

Perhaps most significantly in his NDP role, Rae and federal NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin began campaigning for a social charter in the Constitution, that would included basic shelter and basic living standard among constitutional rights; this idea caused concerns among businesses, the Conservatives and even the Liberals, and was excluded from the initial federal constitutional package unveiled on September 24, 1991; skepticism was also expressed by the other newly elected NDP premiers – of B.C. and Saskatchewan. 328 

A former Vancouver mayor, B.C. premier Mike Harcourt was more centrist in his political views; in Canada’s westernmost province with rampant anti-Quebec and anti-Ontario sentiments, Harcourt had been the only major party leader in the 1991 election who favored a “distinct society” status for Quebec, but he was opposed to any provincial veto or regional veto (that would give the two largest provinces Quebec and Ontario each a veto) in the constitutional amending formula, and he labelled himself an “extreme decentralist” for his grassroots, community-based orientation; responding to Bob Rae’s proposal of a social charter, Harcourt said he would support national standards in healthcare and education but not necessarily written in the Constitution; once elected, Harcourt opted to let the traditionally B.C.-oriented NDP MLAs have a higher profile on constitutional issues and, given the constitutional disagreement between Quebec premier Bourassa and the other provincial leaders – with Bourassa boycotting any constitutional meetings of the premiers and the prime minister – he wanted Mulroney to focus on the economy instead. 329 

Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow was even more blunt and direct when it came to pressuring Mulroney to concentrate on the economy, for the reason that a recession had been hitting the prairie farmers hard; Romanow would be an ally for the other NDP premiers when it came to defending traditional NDP positions against what they viewed as rightwing attacks such as a proposed guarantee of property rights in the constitutional package announced by Mulroney on September 24; beyond that, on the constitutional process Romanow’s view stood in contrast to Bob Rae’s championing of a constituent assembly: 330 

“But the reality is at the end of the day it’ll be 11 first ministers – hopefully after a lot of public consultation – who will be making decisions on behalf of all Canadians.”

An experienced constitutional negotiator Roy Romanow had been: (as also mentioned before) in 1981 as NDP attorney general, Romanow, Ontario’s Tory attorney general Roy McMurtry and federal Liberal justice minister Jean Chretien had been instrumental in forging the “McMurtry formula”, or “Kitchen Accord”, to bring in the 1982 Constitution with a “notwithstanding clause”. 331 

As NDP members both Harcourt and Romanow were expected to support native self-government which Rae had championed and which was given initial inclusion in the constitutional package. 332 The two’s demand for focus on the economy won endorsement from Rae who stated that the economy was important to national unity. 333 

As a result of their insistence as well as Quebec premier Robert Bourassa’s boycotting of constitutional meeting, a first ministers’ (prime minister and premiers) meeting was held in December 1991 – the first such meeting since June 1990 – fully devoted to the economy, as was the next meeting in February 1992. 334

But this time around a clock was ticking for possible Quebec separation from Canada: in June 1991 the Quebec National Assembly had passed a law requiring a Quebec referendum be held no later than October 26, 1992, on Quebec sovereignty/independence; pundits differed on how seriously the Bourassa government would carry it out or back down and change the law when the time came, but Gil Remillard, Quebec’s justice and Canadian intergovernmental affairs minister, stated at a late-February 1992 Canadian Bar Association meeting in Whistler, B.C., that it was “no bluff”. 335

(Continuing to Part 8, next blog post)


279. Rosemary Speirs and Edison Stewart, “Mulroney puts Buchanan in Senate Dogged by scandal, Nova Scotia premier steps down”, September 13, 1990, Toronto Star

280. Peter O’Neil, “Angry Delta Tory MP ready to quit government; Delta MP prepared to quit Tories: Badgered all summer over government performance, says angy Stan Wilbee”. September 21, 1990, The Vancouver Sun

281. John Deverell with files from Pat Brennan, Tony Wong, and Patrick Doyle, and from Canadian Press, “Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s latest Senate appointees include two kingpins of Canadian business: Trevor Eyton and Claude Castonguay”, September 24, 1990, Toronto Star

282. “Liberal rollercoaster derailed by area’s Reform candidates: southern suburbs: Reform tide scours
Lower Mainland sector as Tories and New Democrats alike blame either former leaders or current provincial party affiliations”, October 26, 1993, The Vancouver Sun

283. Murray Dobbin, The politics of Kim Campbell: from school trustee to Prime Minister, 1993, James Lorimer & Company

284. Don McGillivray, “Senate reform like bait in a mousetrap”, February 9, 1989, The Ottawa Citizen

285. The late Don McGillivray, former president of the Canadian Centre for Investigative Journalism, after whom the top Canadian investigative-journalism award has been named, was also known for his unusual collection of RCMP memorabilia and kitsch which he was proud of being unlike the Mickey Mouse official RCMP collections; he later died of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a Parkinson’s-like brain disorder; see: Don McGillivray, “Black can’t seem to hold a job”, July 3, 1989, The Windsor Star; Moira Farrow, “Free-trade deal sparks brain drain”, February 9, 1990, The Vancouver Sun; Don McGillivray, “Taking the mickey out of the Mounties”, September 17, 1995, Aileen McCabe, “Columnist took the mystery out of economics”, June 27, 2003, and, Thulasi Srikanthan, “Citizen writer wins top prize for story RCMP tried to suppress; Investigative piece sparked review of witness protection”, May 26, 2008, The Ottawa Citizen

286. “Queen transfers signatory powers to Governor-General”, December 31, 1977, “THE CONSTITUTION COMES HOME ‘Long, difficult process’ Leeaders’ tolerance praised by Queen”, April 19, 1982, and, Jennifer Lewington, “THE CONSTITUTION COMES HOME A political Who’s Who at rare Council meeting”, April 19, 1982, The Globe and Mail

287. The Constitutional Act, 1867, and, The Constitutional Act, 1982, official website of Department of Justice Canada

288. Robert Sheppard, “The Constitutional Conference Secret, all-night talks behind historic accord”, November 6, 1981, Hugh Winsor, “Usual Canadian solution”, November 6, 1981, and, “Could have called election, Governor-General says Schreyer would have blocked forced patriation”, January 22, 1982, The Globe and Mail; and, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, official website of Department of Justice Canada

289. Andrew Coyne, “The trouble with ‘notwithstanding’”, January 29, 2005, National Post; Peter McKnight, “Notwithstanding what?”, January 21, 2006, The Vancouver Sun; “Judges, let politicians make laws”, April 16, 2007, The Gazette; and, Janice Tibbetts, “Chretien relives night of the ‘kitchen accord’; Charter a symbol of justice worldwide, former PM says”, April 17, 2007, The Ottawa Citizen

290. “Ahead of deadline Ottawa, 9 provinces reach pact on rights”, November 24, 1981, Robert Sheppard, “Year of wrangling near end Patriation resolution to pass Wednesday”, November 28, 1981, John Gray, “Quebec bitterness blunts joy of patriation, visit by Queen”, April 15, 1982, and, Jeff Sallot, “Quebec veto claim over Constitution rejected by court”, December 7, 1982, The Globe and Mail

291. Michael Valpy, “The sellout of Canadian native rights”, November 11, 1981, John Fraser, “Indians, Quebec can’t delay bill, Chretien says”, December 11, 1981, “Indians create a snag February patriation now highly unlikely”, January 8, 1982, Morris Zaslow, “A history of growth: from missionary to political
mission Canada claimed the land, but never the natives’ soul, and now fine ideas pursue ideals and
wealth”, June 29, 1982, Jeff Sallot and Rudy Platiel, “Native leaders split on eve of talks”, March 15, 1983, and Rudy Platiel, “Radical riots Canadian native leaders ponder outcome of militancy of 1970’s”, October 1, 1984, The Globe and Mail

292. Around the time of the new Constitution ceremony in April 1982, Canadian natives upped the ante by electing a tough-talking Saskatchewan native leader, Order of Canada recipient David Ahenakew, as their national chief, and began a process demanding equal political status and sovereignty; more recently, comments made by Ahenakew on Friday, December 13, 2002, stating that his German friends told him Jews had started World War II, and praising Adolf Hitler’s murder of European Jews, caused wide condemnation; Ahenakew was subsequently stripped of the Order by then Governor General Adrianne Clarkson; see: “Indians plan boycott”, April 2, 1982, “ACROSS CANADA Indian Brotherhood elects new leader”, April 23, 1982, “Delivered ultimatum Indians win the right to stand by themselves”, May 5, 1982, and, Jeff Sallot, “PM says Ottawa supports limited self-rule for natives”, March 16, 1983, The Globe and Mail; James Parker, “Native leader tells audience Hitler ‘cleaned up’ world”, December 15, 2002, Calgary Herald; Rick Mofina, “Former native leader faces hate crime probe: Endorsement of Hitler draws bomb threats”, December 17, 2002, Times-Colonist; Simon Doyle and Julie Saccone, “Clarkson revokes Ahenakew honour: Order of Canada axed over hate speech”, July 12, 2005, The Gazette; and, Betty Ann Adam, “Crown won’t appeal acquittal of Ahenakew; Anti-Semitic remarks delivered in speech led to hatespeech trial”, March 24, 2009, The Ottawa Citizen

293. Graham Fraser, “Mulroney willing to reopen Constitution talks with PQ”, August 7, 1984, and, Graham Fraser, “Johnson says PQ best bet for Mulroney”, December 10, 1984, The Globe and Mail; Peggy Curran, “Quebec must regain veto, Liberal says”, November 1, 1985, and, Irwin Block, “Quebec gets chance to end odd-man-out status”, August 9, 1986, The Gazette; Robert McKenzie, “Quebec using native rights as lever for new accord”, August 10, 1986, and, Robert McKenzie, “Provinces must back Quebec on Constitution Bourassa says”, August 11, 1986, Toronto Star; and, Sarah Scott, “Premiers agree to talks on Quebec’s constitutional demands”, August 13, 1986, The Gazette

294. Continued Quebec nationalist opposition to Robert Bourassa’s negotiating positions was foretold in 1986 when Prof. Leon Dion (father of Stephane Dion, future federal Liberal party leader and architect of the 2000 Clarity Act specifying conditions under which the federal government would negotiate a full Quebec separation from Canada) resigned as constitutional adviser to Bourassa’s Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Gil Remillard, over the Liberal Quebec government’s decision not to use the “notwithstanding” clause systematically; Dion was also critical of what he viewed as weakness in Bourassa’s demand of the “distinct society” clause; see: “Bourassa is warned on tactics over rights”, May 20, 1986, The Globe and Mail; Hubert Bauch, “Breakup should be tough, Dion says: Student-union rules cited as example”, March 24, 2000, The Gazette; and, “Final result astounds the (political) scientists”, December 3, 2006, Winnipeg Free Press

295. Carol Goar, “Constitution: Last piece in place First ministers set aside differences to put an end to 53 years of wrangling”, May 2, 1987, and, Joe O’Donnell, “Here’s what fuss is about”, May 30, 1987, Toronto Star; and, Jeffrey Simpson, “Anatomy of a deal”, June 2, 1987, The Globe and Mail

296. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, “Canada in weakling’s hands: Trudeau; Ex-PM speaks out in his own words on Meech Lake Constitutional deal”, May 28, 1987, The Gazette

297. Deborah Coyne, “Mulroney’s Canada is a bunch of provinces”, May 6, 1987, and, Joel Ruimy, “Opposition leaders give cautious okay to Quebec constitutional agreement”, May 12, 1987, Toronto Star; and, Christopher Young, “Yugoslavs betray Meech Lake flaws”, February 20, 1988, The Gazette

298. Columnist Christopher Young had been born in the capital of Ghana in Africa, “the first white child born on the Gold Coast” according to former colleague Charles King; a long-time editor of The Ottawa Citizen and general manger of Southam News, Young retired in 1996 when Conrad Black bought the Southam newspapers with whom he did not agree, and he soon descended into the grip of Alzheimer’s Disease and could not finish his memoir before he died; see: Robert Sibley, “Christopher Young dies at 79: Award-winning columnist and longtime editor of Ottawa Citizen”, March 22, 2006, The Vancouver Sun; and, “Christopher Young was ‘extraordinary journalist’; Covered war zones, edited Ottawa Citizen Didn’t see eye to eye with Conrad Black”, March 24, 2006, Toronto Star

299. David Crane, “Meech Lake plus free trade threaten Canada”, October 26, 1988, Toronto Star; Susan Delacourt, “CAMPAIGN ‘88 Mulroney dragoons gloom, Meech pact in fight for Quebec”, November 9. 1988, The Globe and Mail; and, Jennifer Robinson, “Liberals would kill Meech Lake pact, Mulroney tells Quebecers”, November 9, 1988, The Gazette

300. Andrew Cohen, “SIGNS ARE NATIONAL WILL MEAN REGIONAL: New contours of country beginning to form”, December 5, 1988, and, Michael Bliss, “Business should be worried about Meech Lake Accord”, December 5, 1988, Financial Post; John D. Whyte, “Meech Lake: Accord or Disaccord?”, January 28, 1989, and J. E. Rea, “Meech Lake is a dangerous power transfer”, May 26, 1989, The Whig-Standard; “Suggestions for a new accord”, Editorial, November 6, 1989, and, Andrew Coyne, “Unanimity, not Quebec, is basis for dissension on Meech Lake”, January 1, 1990, Financial Post; “Is this the path to civil war?”, January 15, 1990, Calgary Herald; and, Robert Sheppard, “THE PROVINCES Dance of the 10 premiers, or, bring me the head of the country”, January 17, 1990, The Globe and Mail

301. “McKenna says public will act as opposition”, November 9, 1987, and, “Liberals hold Manitoba PCs to thin minority”, April 27, 1988, The Gazette; John Spears, “Liberals in Newfoundland would reject Meech accord”, April 14, 1989, and, John Spears, “Wells to use skill as lawyer in battling for Meech reform”, April 21, 1989, Toronto Star; Stephen Ward, “Meech not a big stick, victor says: Newfoundland Liberal chief conciliatory to Mulroney”, April 21, 1989, The Vancouver Sun; and, “Tories won’t fight Wells in May 31 byelection”, May 18, 1989, The Gazette

302. “Meech Lake: Where they stand”, May 29, 1990, The Windsor Star; and, Carl Davies, “Frankly, McKenna has better things to do than lead Liberals”, January 31, 2006, Telegraph-Journal

303. Compared to Chretien’s predecessor Mulroney whose length of reign was eclipsed by Chretien, McKenna’s predecessor Hatfield had been premier for 17 years, with lifestyle controversies and one related criminal charge, and died of brain cancer at 60 less than 4 years after election wipe-out by McKenna; see: Jonathan Ferguson, “Colorful Hatfield believed in Canada”, April 27, 1991, and, Dalton Camp, “Richard Hatfield: Above all he was a New Brunswicker”, April 28, 1991, Toronto Star; James Ferrabee, “Hatfield remembered in song and prayer; ‘He practiced the politics of joy,’ Mulroney eulogizes”, May 4, 1991, and, “Hatfield accused of sex assault; Premier harassed me and other group-home boys, man claims”, November 10, 1992, The Gazette; and, “New Brunswick judge faces tough decision in sex abuse inquiry”, September 16, 1994, The Record

304. Les Whittington, “Meech Lake aground in Manitoba”, November 25, 1988, The Vancouver Sun; Susan Delacourt, “Senate reform key to deal on Meech”, May 28, 1990, The Globe and Mail; and, “Meech Lake: Where they stand”, May 29, 1990, The Windsor Star

305. Elizabeth Thompson, “Liberals on the issues”, May 12, 1990, The Gazette; Julian Beltrame, “23 changes proposed for Meech”, May 17, 1990, The Windsor Star; and, Ross Howard, “Canada not in crisis, Chretien declares”, May 26, 1990, and, Jeffrey Simpson, “The arithmetic of Senate reform”, May 29, 1990, The Globe and Mail

306. Clyde Wells, “’The accord must be reopened’”, May 7, 1990, Financial Post

307. Paul Gessell, “It’s a deal!; PM and premiers reach pact on Meech accord”, June 10, 1990, and, Ian Austen and Larry Pynn, “Meech: PM’s decision pressured Wells”, June 12, 1990, The Ottawa Citizen

308. Benoit Aubin, “Manitoba chiefs reject Ottawa’s offer; THE CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE”, June 19, 1990, The Gazette; David Roberts, “Elijah Harper under siege: Bodyguards move in as tension mounts”, June 20, 1990, The Ottawa Citizen; Roy MacGregor, “Quiet man with the feather; Elijah Harper has been against Meech Lake from the start”, June 23, 1990, and, Julian Beltrame, “MEECH DEAL IS ‘DEAD’; Wells killed last hope, Murray charges”, June 23, 1990, Edmonton Journal; and, “GARY FILMON; Manitoba premier forgives, won’t forget federal tactics”, June 24, 1990, and, “CLYDE WELLS; Hero to some, bitter enemy of others”, June 24, 1990, The Ottawa Citizen

309. Graham Fraser, “MULRONEY RESIGNS Meech still evokes bitter memories Failure to put accord to vote in Newfoundland listed by Prime Minister as low point”, February 25, 1993, The Globe and Mail; and, Terrance Wills, “Mulroney steps aside; ‘I have done my very best’”, February 25, 1993, The Gazette

310. Andrew Coyne, “Unanimity, not Quebec, is basis for dissension on Meech Lake”, January 1, 1990, Financial Post

311. Julian Beltrame, “23 changes proposed for Meech”, May 17, 1990, The Windsor Star; and, Don McGillivray, “Spicer commission used as excuse for stalling”, November 5, 1990, Edmonton Journal

312. Don McGillivray, Ibidem; John Yorston, “Editors give mixed reviews to Spicer forum”, November 6, 1990, The Gazette; and, Michael Valpy, “IN SEARCH OF CANADA The Spicer commission’s revving into high gear. Its chairman hopes that a million Canadians will participate in its hearings A noisy quest for a nation’a values”, January 7, 1991, The Globe and Mail

313. Ashley Geddes, “Wells proposes convention to study Meech alternative”, January 25, 1991, Calgary Herald

314. Don McGillivray, “Constitution may not remain in open”, April 6, 1991, Calgary Herald

315. Michale Valpy, Ibidem; Cindy Kavanaugh, “Spicer group moderator a lonely guy”, February 18, 1991, The Windsor Star; and, Carol Goar, “Like it or not, we need Spicer Commission”, March 5, 1991, Toronto Star

316. Paul Gessell, “THE SPICER COMMISSION REPORT; Government blamed for crisis; Spicer says colleagues let PM off too lightly”, June 27, 1991, and, Keith Spicer, “Canada’s Crisis of Spirit; The chairman concludes there is a breathtaking challenge of perspective”, June 28, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen

317. “Spicer commission waste of time: poll”, July 29, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen: Tim Harper, “PM dismisses ‘dime a dozen’ popularity poll”, July 9, 1991, Toronto Star; and, Monica Zurowski, “Royal Commissions: Inquiries cost a lot but sometimes accomplish very little”, September 21, 1991, Calgary Herald

318. David Howell, “Spicer group says meetings are beginning to produce results; Fil Fraser believes consensus can be found”, January 21, 1991, Edmonton Journal

319. “Canada Speak; The Spicer Report”, June 28, 1991, Edmonton Journal; and, “Official bilingualism draws blasts as ‘divisive, unnecessary’”, June 28, 1991, The Gazette

320. Carol Goar, “Submissions show Spicer’s reaching people”, March 23, 1991, Toronto Star; and, Robert Miller, “Spicer: ‘a crisis of structure and spirit’ JUST WHAT WAS SAID”, June 28, 1991, The Globe and Mail

321. Susan Delacourt, “CONSTITUTION The Spicer Report Constituent assembly plea rejected Clark terms proposal last-resort measure if super-committee fails this fall”, June 28, 1991, The Globe and Mail; and, Robert Mason Lee, “Reports are in; Clark must now stickhandle route to new federalism”, July 6, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen

322. Paul Gessell and Iain Hunter, “Tories plan major changes; Distinct society status for Quebec; An elected Senate; Native self-government”, September 24, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen

323. Joan Bryden, “Reshaping the future: Clark lambastes native ad: Assembly insists on full sovereignty”, November 1, 1991, The Windsor Star; Edison Stewart, “Unity panel near collapse as tour plays to empty hall”, November 6, 1991, Toronto Star; and, Joan Bryden, “Clark calls opposition bluff on Dobbie Fate of committee cloudy”, November 12, 1991, The (Hamilton) Spectator

324. Joan Bryden, “Stalemated committee bypassed; Clark tries new unity tack”, November 14, 1991, Edmonton Journal

325. Joan Bryden, “McLaughlin throws in with unity committee”, November 19, 1991, The (Hamilton) Spectator; “Unity panel revived after Liberals end boycott of hearings”, November 20, 1991, The (Kitchener-Waterloo) Record; and, Claire Hoy, “Public consultation not really wanted in constitutional debate”, December 12, 1991, The Windsor Star

326. Ian Austen, “String of NDP victories changes the political map”, October 23, 1991, The Windsor Star; and, “SASKATCHEWAN: Romanow wants premiers, PM to discuss economy”, December 7, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen

327. Charles Lewis, “Natives hopeful NDP victory leads to breakthrough”, September 8, 1990, The Ottawa Citizen; Laura Eggertson, “Rae champions native rights reform”, November 6, 1990, The (Kitchener-Waterloo) Record; Richard Mackie and Gene Allen, “Rae urges stronger Charter Premier calls for talks soon”, March 28, 1991, The Globe and Mail; Eloise Morin, “Constituent assembly ‘unacceptable’ to Quebec”, April 19, 1991, Toronto Star; Chris Hall, “Rae welcomes Clark into constitutional fray”, April 23, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen; “PM wrong to reject assembly approach to hammer out new constitution: Rae”, April 27, 1991, The Gazette; and, Julian Beltrame and Joan Bryden, “Constitutional veto urged for natives”, June 21, 1991, The (Kitchener-Waterloo) Record

328. Susan Delacourt, “Ottawa to float concept of constitutional ‘social charter’ National-unity package could include plan to entrench rights to shelter, decent living standard”, September 10, 1991, The Globe and Mail; Geoffrey Scotton, “Can Rae avoid a collision with business?”, September 23, 1991, Financial Post; Catherine Thompson, “Premiers react cautiously”, September 25, 1991, The (Kitchener-Waterloo) Record; Ian Austen, “String of NDP victories changes the political map”, October 23, 1991, The Windsor Star; and, “Meeting with PM leaves Rae intent on social charter”, October 30, 1991, The Windsor Star

329. George Oake, “B.C.’s NDP at odds with Rae”, September 21, 1991, Toronto Star; Terry Morley, “Harcourt unlikely to fall in line”, September 26, 1991, and, Daphne Bramham, “Harcourt odd man out on Quebec distinct society issue”, October 16, 1991, The Vancouver Sun; Martin Cohn, “NDP premiers likely to differ on constitutional talks”, October 20, 1991, Toronto Star; Vaughn Palmer, “B.C. cabinet is divided on unity issue”, December 7, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen; and, Justine Hunter, “Recovery must head agenda, says Harcourt”, December 14, 1991, The Vancouver Sun

330. Sarah Scott, “THE NDP 3; HARCOURT, RAE AND ROMANOW HAVE THE CLOUT T DEFEND OUR SOCIAL SAFETY NET. BUT CAN THEY UNITE TO USE IT?”, October 26, 1991, and, “Unity buck stops at PM, premiers Romanow says”, November 15, 1991, The Gazette; “SASKATCHEWAN: Romanow wants premiers, PM to discuss economy”, December 7, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen; Joan Bryden, “Let’s lighten up and forget about the constitution”, December 9, 1991, The (Hamilton) Spectator

331. Roy McMurtry, “’His energy, enthusiasm remarkable’”, March 1, 1986, Toronto Star

332. Jack Danylchuk, “Native self-rule seen as inevitable; Enough provinces will back constitutional change, native leader says”, November 20, 1991, Edmonton Journal

333. “SASKATCHEWAN: Romanow wants premiers, PM to discuss economy”, December 7, 1991, The Ottawa Citizen

334. Paul McKeague, “’Minor victories’ at summit”, December 20, 1991, The Windsor Star; and, Deborah Dowling, “FIRST MINISTERS’ CONFERENCE: BROAD SMILES, EMPTY HANDS; Premiers wait with consumers, jobless for economic boost”, February 11, 1992, The Ottawa Citizen

335. Sandro Contenta, “Bourassa beats federalist drum on Baptiste eve”, June 23, 1991, Toronto Star; Peter Maser, “Canada: The year of Quebec; Five views on what will happen with the debate over Quebec sovereignty”, December 29, 1991, Edmonton Journal; and, “Quebec referendum must be respected, Remillard says”, February 25, 1992, The Windsor Star

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