Historical Context

The Constitution Act
Canada’s original constitution was an act of Britain’s Parliament, and since the 1930s, Canadian officials and politicians have worked to bring the Constitution under direct Canadian control. Not until 1972 did Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau finally win unanimous agreement for a complex package including a formula for amending the Canadian constitution, a role for the provinces in choosing Supreme Court judges, and a transfer of some other powers to the provinces. When Quebec’s premier backed out of the agreement, however, negotiations had to begin again, and the amending and modernization of the Constitution was delayed. In September 1980, federal and provincial leaders met again to work out terms of a new Canadian constitution, but a compromise that satis- fied the provincial and federal governments was not negotiated until November 1981. While the provincial governments, for the most part, accepted the proposed constitution, many Canadians—particularly feminists, aboriginals, the disabled, and ethnic minorities—were not satisfied. Many of these groups lobbied for changes, resulting in an ‘‘Equality Clause’’ proclaiming that men, women, and the disabled would be guaranteed complete equality before the law. Canada’s new Constitution Act was finally signed on April 17, 1982.

The Canadian Economy and Government
In the early 1980s, Canada experienced a recession, leading many...

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