Charlottetown Accord Essay, Research Paper
What was the Charlottetown Accord?
The Charlottetown Accord was a body of legislation proposed by Federal and Provincial governments in 1992. The changes proposed in the draft of the Accord would have meant drastic changes to the constitution of Canada.
There were five major changes to the Accord. The first was a modified Triple-E Senate, which would require a seventy- percent majority to defeat most federal bills that were proposed. The second change that would occur was to increase the number of seats in the House of Commons from 295 seats to 312 seats. Of the additional seventeen seats, ten would go to Ontario, three each would go to both Quebec and British Columbia, and the final seat would go to Alberta. The third alteration proposed would be an amending formula, which would give provinces a veto over future constitutional changes, which was a direct demand of Quebec. The fourth change brought about the entrenchment of an inherent right to self- government for aboriginal Canadians. This would allow the Natives to ask the courts to enforce the right to self-government after a five-year negotiation period with federal and provincial governments. The last major amendment that was proposed was to implement a new distinct society clause that would be placed in the main body of the Canadian constitution.
Why was the Charlottetown Accord Created?
The Charlottetown Accord grew out of discussion initiated in the summer of 1991. It was created, for the most part, because of the failure of the Meech Lake Accord in 1988, and the Oka Crisis in 1990, which was a confrontation between the Natives and the Federal Government.
The Oka Crisis garnered unwanted international attention. This particular event and other minor dealings and confrontations brought aboriginal issues to the forefront of Canadian political discourse. On the final day of the Oka Crisis, the current Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced his Native Agenda in the House of Commons. Mulroney s agenda set the stage for what many aboriginal people hoped would be a new beginning.
Native issues aside, the Charlottetown Accord was also meant to promote greater unity amongst the provinces. With the failure of the Meech Lake Accord back in 1988, the pressure was on both the Federal and Provincial Governments to show their competence by creating a body of legislation that the majority of politicians could agree with, while avoiding the mistakes made with the Meech Lake Accord.
Who Created the Charlottetown Accord?
Many political and non-political parties were involved in the creation of the accord. The current Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney was the leader of the Accord talks. The Premiers from all provinces, including Quebec were also heavily involved. As a sign of respect four national aboriginal groups were invited to attend and contribute to the drafts of the Accord. The aboriginal groups invited to attend the meetings were the Assembly of Fist Nations (AFN), the Inuit Tapiresat of Canada, the Metis National Council, and finally the Native Council of Canada.
A series of meetings were held throughout 1991,
and into the late summer of 1992. The last meeting on
the Charlottetown Accord was held in Charlottetown, Nova Scotia,
where the fathers of confederation first proposed a united Canada, on August 27th and 28th, 1992.
How will the Accord Affect the Natives?
If the body of legislation passes the affect will be a positive one for the Natives. It has been the goal of Natives to govern their own land, with their own rules ever since the English forced them into reserves in the 1800 s. The Natives have made many attempts for self-government, through negotiations and meetings with Federal and Provincial Governments, but each time they have come away empty handed. The major part of the Accord would be to ensure the Natives self-government. Self-government would be a big step not only for the Native people, but the people of Canada as well. Self- government would mean that Native reserves would in effect be tiny nations within a large one.
The Referendum Outcome
In the days leading up to the vote, the accord was the center of much controversy in the Canadian media. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau warned the electorate not to give into Quebec s blackmail of declaring sovereignty if their demands, many of, which were included in the Accord, were not met. Shortly after Trudeau s comments were made public, current Prime Minister Brian Mulrony called Canadians disloyal if they turned down the Accord.
The National Referendum vote on the Charlottetown Accord was taken on October 26, 1992. It was time for the people to speak. Canadians rejected the vote 53.7% to 45.2%. Although the majority rejected the Accord, it was unclear what the vote really meant. Canadians from coast to coast were asked to deal with a very complex set of constitutional issues, with a simple yes or no answer.
Reactions to the Accord and the outcome seem to be divided amongst the Natives. The Aboriginal leadership of Canada puts so much emphasis on the Charlottetown Accord, since it was overwhelmingly defeated by the majority of Canadians, including Natives on the reserves. However, in the wake of the defeat of the accord, the national Aboriginal leadership agreed on one thing. They agreed that the accord itself represented a victory as far as the inherent right to native self government is concerned. The Aboriginal people appear to have been recognized by all provinces in the accord, and, in fact, seem to have nation wide support amongst Canadians. On the other hand, many Canadians voted against the Accord, and the majority of the votes from reserves were against the Accord as well.
For the Natives the Charlottetown Accord is yet another example of their goal of self-government slipping away from them. With two Accords, the Meech Lake and the Charlottetown, failing in the last four years, the Federal or Provincial Governments are not likely to try and come up with any new accords any time soon. Hence, the problem for the Natives. It will now be up to them to brainstorm and draft what they feel would be a suitable form of self-government, which the Governments of Canada and the people of Canada can live with.