Constitutional Predicament: Canada After the Referendum of 1992

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Canada's fifth effort at "mega-constitutional politics" was a period of popular discussion and leadership negotiation, that ran from the defeat in 1990 of the Meech Lake Accord through the Charlottetown Accord and the referendum of 26 October 1992. Constitutional Predicament explores the referendum in relation to the democratic process; nationalism (Canadian, Aboriginal, Québécois) and pluralism; principles of constitutionalism, constitution-making, and popular participation in constitution-making; the role of the Charter and Supreme Court; future constitutional efforts; and worldwide trends. The contributors agree that Canadian voters rejected the Charlottetown proposals because they disapproved of both their content and the procedure by which they were drawn up. They conclude that, while Quebec remains the chief problem for the Canadian constitution, Quebec was not the sole constitutional issue or the sole issue which determined how Canadians voted. The constitutional process did help make it apparent that Canada is multinational and that each of the three major nations has valid claims on the political system. The contributors offer contrasting views on how the Charlottetown Accord came to read as it does, why negotiators at Charlottetown so misjudged public opinion, and the prognosis for further constitution-making. Readers may also see the referendum vote as a preview of the vote in the general election of October 1993, which unseated the Tories one year later, almost to the day. Taken together with the accompanying provocative commentaries, the essays will be of specific interest to students of Canadian politics and constitutional affairs. The complete text of the Charlottetown Accord is included in an appendix. The contributors and commentators are Janet Ajzenstat, Alan C. Cairns, Curtis Cook, Barry Cooper, Peter Emberley, David Hendrickson, Robert J. Jackson, Juan Lindau, F.L. Morton, Alain Noël, and James Tully.

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