History of Canada (1982–1992)

Bibliography of Canadian history Canadian Broadcasting Corporation History of Canada (1992–present)

The history of Canada (1982–1992) refers to the period immediately following the early 1980s, and prior to the 1993 resignation of Brian Mulroney the 18th Prime Minister of Canada.

The constitution

In 1982, the Canada Act was passed by the British parliament and granted Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II on March 29. The corresponding Constitution Act was passed by the Canadian parliament and granted Royal Assent by the Queen on April 17, thus patriating the Constitution of Canada, and marking one of Trudeau's last major acts before his resignation in 1984. Previously, the constitution has existed only as an act of British parliament, and the documents remained there. Canada had established complete sovereignty as an independent country, with the Queen's role as monarch of Canada separate from her role as the British monarch or the monarch of any of the other Commonwealth realms.[1]

At the same time, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was added in place of the previous Canadian Bill of Rights. Some of the negotiations between provincial and federal leaders, specifically those concerning the so-called Notwithstanding Clause, had failed to include Quebec Premier René Lévesque. Resentment over this "stab in the back" led to attempts to veto the constitution, which were ultimately ruled out.[2]

Air India Disaster

On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 exploded while at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,400 m) above the Atlantic Ocean, south of Ireland; all 329 on board were killed, of whom 82 were children and 280 were Canadian citizens. Up until September 11, 2001, the Air India bombing was the single deadliest terrorist attack involving aircraft. It is also the largest mass murder in Canadian history.

Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell

Mila (left) and Brian (right) Mulroney greet Rt. Hon. Pierre Trudeau (Foreground).

Brian Mulroney came to power in the 1984 election, and quickly restored friendlier relations with the United States, which had been strained during Trudeau's time as Prime Minister. Prime Minister Mulroney's major focus was the establishment of free trade with the US, a very controversial topic. Eventually, the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement was signed in January 1988.

Mulroney also worked to appease the sovereignty movement in Quebec. In 1987, he attempted to draft the Meech Lake Accord, amending the 1982 constitution so that it would be acceptable to Quebec, which had not yet signed it. However, the Meech Lake Accord failed to be ratified by all provinces.

In 1989, the Progressive Conservative government of Prime Minister Mulroney proposed the creation of a national sales tax on goods and services (GST). The proposal was an instant controversy; a large proportion of the Canadian population was irritated and disapproved of the tax. Despite protests from the other parties and even members of Mulroney's own caucus, the GST was introduced on January 1, 1991. The political ramifications of the GST were severe. It contributed to the Mulroney government becoming one of the least popular in Canadian history.

École Polytechnique massacre

On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine entered the École Polytechnique in Montreal. He went into an engineering class, separated the men from the women, forced out the men at gunpoint, began to scream about how he hated feminists, and then opened fire on the women. Lépine continued his rampage in other parts of the building, opening fire on other women he encountered. He killed 14 women (13 students and one employee of the university) and injured thirteen others before committing suicide. The massacre profoundly shocked Canadians. The Quebec government and the Montreal city government declared three days of mourning.

Initial news reports did not note that all 14 victims were women. When Lépine's motive became clear, the event served as a massive spur for the Canadian feminist movement and for action against violence against women. In 1991 Parliament officially designated December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Oka Crisis

The Oka Crisis was a land dispute between the Mohawk nation and the town of Oka, Quebec which began on July 11, 1990, and lasted until September 26, 1990. It resulted in three deaths, and would be the first of a number of violent conflicts between Indigenous people and the Canadian Government in the late 20th century.

Gulf War

Canada was one of the first nations to agree to condemn Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and promptly agreed to join the US-led coalition. When the UN authorized the full use of force in the 1991 Gulf War, Canada sent three warships, two CF18 fighter squadrons and field hospital with support personnel. This was the first time since the Korean War that its forces had participated in combat operations. Canada suffered no casualties during the conflict, but since its end, many veterans have complained of suffering from Gulf War Syndrome.

Good and Services Tax Implementation

On January 1, 1991, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislation became effective.[3] This decision was particularly controversial because Prime Minister Mulroney lacked the sufficient votes in the Senate to pass the legislation enabling the tax, as the Senate had a Liberal majority and who refused to support the legislation.[4] Mulroney bypassed the Liberal majority by invoking section 26 of the Constitution Act, 1867 and appointing 8 new Senators with support of Queen Elizabeth II, creating a Progressive Conservative Senate majority.[5] While originally intended to be set at 9%, the rate was lowered to 7%.

See also


  1. ^ Trepanier, Peter (2004). "Some Visual Aspects of the Monarchical Tradition" (PDF). Canadian Parliamentary Review. Canadian Parliamentary Review. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  2. ^ Charting the Future: Canada's New Constitution, CBC Archives
  3. ^ "1990: Mulroney stacks Senate to pass the GST". CBC Digital Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
  4. ^ "1990: Mulroney stacks Senate to pass the GST". CBC Digital Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
  5. ^ "1990: Mulroney stacks Senate to pass the GST". CBC Digital Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved December 27, 2014.