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Constitution-making as intergovernmental relations: a case study of the 1980 Canadian constitutional negotiations

[journal article]

McDonald, Adam D.

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Abstract The Constitution Act, 1982 is a document that profoundly changed the Canadian political landscape. It brought home the highest law of the land; it provided Canadians a mechanism to change their Constitution; it created a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, entrenched within the Constitution, out of the reach of one government. Perhaps its most important legacies, however, are the seemingly permanent isolation of Quebec and the primacy of place in Canadian history it gave Pierre Trudeau. This paper will examine the constitutional history of Canada with a view to determining what made the 1980 negotiating sessions successful when the sessions that led to both the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord were not. It is important, however, to note that the word “successful” is used in the sense that an agreement was reached. Unlike Meech and Charlottetown, the repatriated constitution did not have unanimity among the participants. The question that comes to mind is this: if the governments did not really agree in 1981, why was a Constitution ratified? More importantly, are there lessons that can be drawn from this agreement that can be applied to the failed accords of the Mulroney era? (author's abstract)
Keywords Canada; constitution; constitution-making; constitutional amendment; historical development; political history; political lawsuit; political negotiation
Classification Political System, Constitution, Government
Document language English
Publication Year 2004
Page/Pages p. 1-23
Journal Federal Governance, 1 (2004) 1
ISSN 1923-6158
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence